Versatile Qualls open to playing anywhere

Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande athlete Elijah Qualls will strongly consider character and academics when deciding on a school this fall.

ELK GROVE, Calif. – With the sheer number of positions he could play in college, simply labeling Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande standout Elijah Qualls as a jumbo athlete would be a mistake.

Qualls plays running back, fullback and even Wildcat quarterback on offense, defensive end, defensive tackle and middle linebacker on defense, and that versatility has drawn notice from coaches across the country.

"I've been pretty much recruited at every position I've ever played in high school. I'm definitely happy about that," Qualls said at the Passing Down Elite 7-on-7 Northern California Regional. "The only thing that really sucks about it, I don't know how to train in the offseason (for a specific position). I just try to stay in the best shape possible, trying to make sure my body is ready for next season."

Working at linebacker during the 7-on-7 tournament, Qualls was effective covering the middle of the field and showed good footwork defending tight ends. It could be more than an weekend exercise, as Oregon and other schools have floated the idea of playing there full time, something he would be open to.

"To me, honestly, I don't mind what I play in college," he said.

Instead, Qualls will base his decision on a combination of academics and campus environment. Perhaps the most surprising consideration will be the character of his future coaches and teammates.

"I want to make sure I'm around good people because being around good people makes you a better person," Qualls said. "(The coaching staff), the AD, the president and all that, I want to make sure those are all people I can go to whenever I just need somebody to talk to about anything. I want to make sure I have people around me that are going to make everything a lot easier for college."

Qualls is considering eight schools, including Arizona, California, Iowa State, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington, and would be open to the Ducks, Oklahoma and USC if they offered. Trimming his list took a major weight off his shoulders.

"About a year ago I thought I was going to a JC," he said. "I wouldn't have even thought all this was going to happen. As soon as it started hitting me, it started really getting to me and realizing all this was going on, plus school and some family issues and things like that. Now that I cut my list, it took some of that pressure off."

Qualls has visited all of his West Coast destinations unofficially and will make a return stop to Seattle this weekend for the Huskies' spring game, while targeting Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa State for official visits this fall. He would like to make a decision soon after and is planning to commit in October or November.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/ Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan. Top Stories