Elijah Molden's mix of physicality and finesse makes him one of the top defensive backs in the nation. What makes the 2017 recruit stand out is his ability to study the game.
Molden's edge is between the ears.
"It’s the mental side that I’m good at, and that’s from my dad teaching me concepts...just feeling the game as it goes, making plays with my instincts and studying the players in the offense before we play."
His dad is Alex Molden, who played for Oregon from 1991-95 and was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 11th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. Elijah said his father has helped him pick up complex concepts on the field, but he waited for his son to show an interest in the game before they started working together.
"It was my freshman year, my first year playing cornerback where I started talking to him just about basics, Cover 2 and that sort of stuff. Since then, I think I’ve done a good job," Molden said. "Even when I visit these schools and watch film of their defensive backs and defenses, I’m able to understand and tell the coaches what comes next because of him."
Those conversations, the advice, the life lessons, transformed into Molden's ability to make adjustments mid-game based on who he is manning up on the other side of the ball.
"One thing I think I’m good at is adapting to the receiver as the game goes. And as far as the team goes, I want to be a leader this year. I have been but previously I’ve led by example. Now I’m going to (provide) a more verbal leadership."
The West Linn, OR product said Oregon, Stanford, USC and Washington currently stand out in his recruitment, and he hopes to get an offer from Nebraska and Michigan.
Molden said the connection Oregon has to his family makes them an attractive landing spot, but he also appreciates how much Stanford can offer.
"They seem different, that’s what they advertise.," the four-star recruit said. "Their athletes are different, their school is different and really their coaches. Coach Akina is who I’ve been talking to, and he is like a father figure it seems like. He seems very relatable and he cares about his players not just at the next level."
Surrounding himself with people who are striving for the best, both on the field and in the classroom, creates a stronger case for the Cardinal as well.
"They have the same motives with academics and with sports. I feel like I’ve been growing up that way in my childhood so when you get people like that who have high standards altogether, you get Stanford."
As Molden continues to sift through his options, he is seeking the advice of his father, who has gone through this process, and his mother.
To him, they provide a good balance.
"They are the ones who point out the pros and cons of universities and get me to see myself at the school that I want to go to," Molden said. "My mom is strong with academics and my dad goes strong with football so they go well together."
The 5-foot-10 defensive back said the recruiting process has been taxing, and he looks forward to being done with it.
“With constant contact with the coaches and media interviews, it can get overwhelming at times. It’s not a bad thing, it’s something that athlete have deal with.”
Molden said he doesn’t want to rush the decision and will make his choice after he has his last official visit. He is in the process of scheduling those visits now.