Oregon Academics Impress Qualls The Most

Arguably the most unique top-level prospect in the entire class of 2013, Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande four-star athlete Elijah Qualls could stand at virtually any position in spite of his 6'2'', 279 lbs. frame. Recruited heavily at both running back and defensive line, Qualls says familiarity with coaching staff and strong academics will be the two main factors going in to his decision.

Do you currently have an offer from Oregon?

"No, I don't. I was actually going to contact them sometime this week. We've been keeping in contact and they told me they were interested. I guess they were on spring break last week, so I guess everybody got back this week. Hopefully they offer me, but I'll find out in the next few days."

Which coach from Oregon have you been in the most contact with since Oregon started recruiting you?

"Coach [Nick] Aliotti."

In your conversations with him, what kinds of things have the two of you discussed?

"He's told me that they're most likely going to recruit me on defense. For the most part, we haven't really been talking about football. He's more interested on getting to know me as a person and he said that they want good people in the program and get kids who are good at school and also be good at football. He's been real interested in getting to know me as a person. My coach and one of the principals today told me that he called and asked how I was, what kind of student, what type of person I was on campus. He's real interested in getting to know what kind of person I am, which I really respect."

How often would you say that you've been in contact with Oregon?

"I'd say once a week."

You took an unofficial visit up to Oregon a few weeks ago. Describe your visit and the impressions you were left with.

"We didn't do much on the visit because a lot of the coaches were with NFL teams and talking to them while they were on business trips, so there were only a few coaches there. Coach [John] Neal was there and he was a real cool guy, very straightforward, kind of an old school guy; he was an interesting person, so I like him. Mostly, they were showing me around. It wasn't really a high end visit, I guess you could say, which I wasn't really expecting. They were all telling me that a lot of them weren't there, but for what the visit was, it was pretty good. I got to check out the stadium and the facilities and all that. Of course, I knew it was going to be nice, but it was better than I thought."

Was there anything in particular about the visit that really stood out to you?

"Yeah, but it wasn't even the coaches, it was more of the academics. I knew they had a great athletic program and everything, but their academics extremely impressed me. They showed me the set up and how they basically map out your whole day for the incoming guys and even some of the older veterans and I thought that was amazing. How they set up the program and how the academic people and the coaches, they all get together and make everything to where you can be successful. I thought that was a amazing."

What is your overall interest in Oregon at this point?

"I'm definitely interested in Oregon. From what I saw, it's a great school and that guy, [Associate AD, Football Chief of Staff] James Harris is an amazing guy. He told me a lot about the coaches and everything and I'm definitely curious about Oregon. Hopefully I can get back up there one day when the coaches are there and get to know all of the coaches because that's going to be a big part of my decision, so I definitely want to meet all of the coaches and see what kind of coaching staff they have. I'm definitely curious about Oregon."

When you consider Oregon as a possible destination, what stands out to you the most?

"The facilities and everything and the academics, they both stand out. They definitely get the best that they can for their players and do everything they can to make them successful. Just how much they put in to their athletics, stands out itself."

How would you describe yourself as a player?

"I'm just a person you could put at any position, to where, if the team is lacking at that position, then I can go play there because I know how to play every position. I'm not going to say that I'm the greatest at every position, but I definitely know how to play and I will play that position hard. I'm just an athlete. I've always played multiple positions on both sides of the ball; I mean, I even started out as a quarterback before I even became a running back and that [quarterback] I can play that, too."

Is there a guy at the collegiate or professional level that you try and pattern your game after?

"I take a lot of parts of other stuff and I try to change what I feel would make me better. There's definitely people that are very good, but I'm not like all those people, so I mean, I can't be exactly them but I can take whatever would benefit me. As a running back, I would say that I would try to describe my running style as I'd say around Marshawn Lynch's because he runs hard, never stops his feet, and he runs through people more than he does run around them. I would say defensive wise...I'm not really sure. I'm not really like a lot of defensive linemen. A lot of them are really tall and some of the people who would be on the inside are a lot bigger than me and some people on the outside are smaller. I'm not really sure, I just try to be as athletic as possible, that way I can get that advantage."

Do you have a preference between playing on offense or defense?

"No, it doesn't matter. Position-wise, that's not going to matter to me at all in college. To me, I'm going to school for a good education and to be around great people and whatever school is going to benefit me in order to make me a better person and a better player, at whatever position I do play. Running back is fun and defensive line is fun. James talked about what if he wanted me to drop 25-30 pounds and become a linebacker and I'm fine with that too; whatever I would be more of an asset to the team, that's what I will play."

What are you looking for in a program?

"For me, coaches would be first. I want good coaches who are also great people; someone that is going to do what they need to to make you a better person on the football field and also be there for you off the field. Where I came from, there wasn't a lot of people that cared about anybody. Now, where I'm at right now, a lot of people would do anything for me, so I want to stay around good people because good people make you a better person. I definitely want to be around good people, and then second would be academics, and then third would be the environment -- the fan base, the people in the city, the city itself, and the players."

Have you given any thought as to what you might want to study when you get to college?

"Yeah, I'm kind of going back and forth on psychology, business, and engineering. I'm not really sure which one I really want to do yet. I guess I'll probably figure that out when I go to college and so I'm not even sure if those are going to be one of my three options because throughout my time in high school, I've become interested in a subject and then something else came up and I like that [other subject]. Those are just my three so far."

What are some of the offers you currently hold from other programs?

"I just got one from Nebraska today, Arkansas before [Nebraska] was my latest, before that would be Cal and Colorado...Basically, everybody in the Pac-12 except USC and Oregon have offered me. I have Michigan, Iowa State, [too]."

Do you have a top five or a list of favorites at this point?

"Not yet, but I'm hoping I can cut my list at least in half by mid-summer. I don't want to rush in to my decision, but I definitely want to make it a lot more simple than it is right now. Especially going in to my senior year, I just want to be able to focus on my senior year; I'm still trying to win a championship in football in high school, so I want to focus on that. I want to focus my attention and everything I can on my team because they're the ones that are with me right now, so I'm definitely focused on that and definitely school, [as well]. I want to at least cut down my list before my senior year."

As far as camps, unofficial visits, and Junior Days go, where have you been and where do you plan on going over the next few months?

"I've been to Washington, UCLA, USC, Cal, I plan on going to Arizona and Arizona State actually next week, I've been to Oregon State and at the same time I went up to Oregon. I would like to take some officials out East because those schools are hard to reach right now and if I haven't taken all my officials, maybe I'll go back to some schools that I'll have on my list by the time that time comes around."

Elijah Qualls profile

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