Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ellis Merriweather signs with the New Orleans Saints

Merriweather becomes the fifth active NFL player from UMass
Sophia-Zoe Schreyer
Sophie-Zoe Schreyer/Daily Collegian (2022)

A dream became a reality on Monday afternoon for former Massachusetts football running back Ellis Merriweather, who signed an NFL contract with the New Orleans Saints. Merriweather joins Elijah Wilkinson, Andy Isabella, Isaiah Rodgers and Larnel Coleman as the only active NFL players from UMass.

Merriweather attended the Saints’ rookie minicamp a week after he attended the Green Bay Packers’ camp, which he said prepared him for what to expect in New Orleans. Saints camp lasted from Thursday to Sunday, and by Saturday Merriweather had the impression that they’d sign him.

“Just the way that the running back coach was talking to me,” Merriweather said. “On Sunday it kind of solidified it because during the practice he asked me a couple questions that just let me know that [New Orleans] were probably going to sign me.”

On top of running back drills, Merriweather made a name for himself in his special teams work over the weekend. He made it a point to always be first in line during special teams drills, which eventually had Saints’ special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi calling Merriweather by name when he wanted to show an example of a drill. Merriweather noted that players at rookie minicamp didn’t have their last names on the back of their shirts like he experienced in Green Bay.

“It’s the league now, I wasn’t a first round draft pick,” Merriweather said. “If you’re not a first round draft pick, for the most part you’re trying to get your way onto the field through special teams. That’s all I’m worried about right now.”

Before Packers rookie minicamp, Merriweather mentioned his new teammate Alvin Kamara as a running back he’s trying to shape his running back style after. Merriweather remembers watching Kamara when the Saints star played at Norcross High School in Georgia, since Merriweather lived not too far down the road in Alpharetta. Merriweather said he’ll try to pick his brain in “any and every way possible.”

“[Kamara] is my favorite running in the league and has been ever since he entered the league,” Merriweather said. “Just to finally be around greatness like that, it’s a blessing. I’m definitely most trying to learn how to become a better route runner out of the backfield from him. He’s probably the best or one of the best in the game right now as a duel threat running back.”

When Merriweather was at Garden City Community College in Kansas, football practices ran late and the dining hall was closed once he got out. He’d have to scrounge up enough money or ask his mom for some extra change to get a Wendy’s 4 for 4 so he could eat that night. Now, he’s living free of charge in a New Orleans hotel, along with free food and beverage.

“I learned to appreciate being taken care of, being on scholarship, to have housing,” Merriweather said. “I’ve been through a lot of things in my life that told me that’s the way that I need to move … I’ve definitely found myself reminiscing over the past couple days of where I’ve come from, how hard I’ve had to work to get to these places.”

Merriweather intends to go back to Georgia for the rest of his belongings before meetings ramp up again in the coming days.

Joey Aliberti can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *