“It’s crazy. I’m just trying to keep my head on straight and try to stay humble,” Elder says. “I don’t want to just jump on anything. I’m still trying to keep my mind wide open, and I’m just really, really excited and thankful to have these offers right now.”
Things have gotten so crazy that Elder has taken to taking notes on the entire process. The notes are one part posterity – his 6-foot-11 father played college basketball at Tennessee Tech – and another part necessity.
“I don’t want to forget anything,” says Elder. “It’s a crazy time, and it all happens so fast. I want to be able to look back on something, and when people are asking, reporters and stuff like that, it’s easy to look to it.”
The latest line in his note: Bumping into Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on his campus. That bump turned into an offer on Monday, after the courtship began on Nov. 6.
Another line: Two conversations with Bears offensive line coach Zach Yenser, another Georgia native.
“It was through a couple twitter messages, and I just started talking with coach Yenser, and we ended up calling and talking one night. I think he just somehow got a hold of my film, and liked it, and things took off from there,” Elder says. “The first night we got on the phone – we’ve talked twice now, and I’ve talked with coach Franklin, when he made the offer – but me and coach Yenser, the first time we talked, it was for 15 minutes, and we were just talking about everything, from what I do outside of football, and his coaching staff, how most of them are from Georgia, and just Georgia boys going out to the West Coast to coach and play some football.”
Elder – a 6-foot-5, 275-pound tackle – boasts a 4.25 GPA, making him a rare combination of size, strength and smarts – something that the Bears are certainly attracted to.
“I knew they were good, but since they’re on the West Coast, I hadn’t heard a lot about them, but through talking to coach [Yenser], I really learned how great they are,” Elder says. “I’ve researched them a little bit. They’re the No. 1 public school in the country for academics. It’s crazy. I’d always associated Cal and Berkeley together, because of all the colleges out there that have California in the name – Southern Cal, California-Los Angeles – UCLA – and I always knew it was Cal-Berkeley.”
Franklin struck Elder as a down-to-earth, happy guy, and reminded him of a lot of the other Southern coaches he’s talked with.
“When he was leaving, he made sure to come up to the weight room and say ‘Hi,’ and shake my hand,” Elder said.
At the moment, the offer isn’t specifically as a tackle or as a guard, because there’s a chance – given his lineage – that Elder could grow.
“Coach Yenser has said that they really like the drive that I have, the physical capability in general on the O-line, because right now, my height, I have a lot of growth – or none – left,” Elder says. “Right now, I could still be growing, or I could stop, but the doctors said that I’m still going to grow. Other than that, the coaches haven’t said guard or tackle, just that they like me as an all-around player, and they are really interested in my grades, too.”
The recruiting process back when Elder’s father was working for his shot at college athletics is much different than the recruiting process these days, but there are still some similarities.
“Since it was so different back then, and he was doing basketball, we’ve talked about it, just growing up, how he got there and his way was mostly going to camps and showcases,” Elder says. “Coaches would be there, and he’d play for them, and they’d see your height and weight and skills, and you’d just go from there.”
The younger Elder will “definitely” be doing some camps this summer, but hasn’t decided which ones quite yet. As for a potential visit to Berkeley, he “definitely” wants to visit, but it may take an official trip, due to cost.
“Nothing’s ruled out right now,” Elder says. “I might end up taking an official visit out there, because it would definitely be awesome to go out there. I would love to get out there and see it, if money wasn’t an issue. It’s definitely on my list, to see Cal.”