It’s hard to leave a lasting impression on a recruit without him taking part in junior days or unofficial visits.
“I know they have a really good program going on up here, so I was looking forward to getting up here and really had a good time,” Elder said.
The staff at Tennessee got in touch with the LaGrange (Ga.) High School offensive lineman shortly after the Rising Seniors Bowl to inform him of his scholarship offer. The offer and the communication since helped get Elder to Knoxville for a junior day trip this weekend in spite of wintery conditions.
“Really impressive,” Elder said. “Overall, they just have a good thing going here, just hearing everybody talk about it. Of course they’re all going to be really positive, but they seemed like good, genuine guys. I just sat down with (Tennessee offensive line) coach (Don) Mahoney and kind of talked to him about everything he’s doing with the offensive line.
“He was saying about with his scholarships, they keep them, just how he treats his guys and just coming up here to see him coach, maybe even coming to a spring practice possibly and maybe getting coached by him but still have to figure everything out and plan out the rest of the spring and then summer.”
The campus in Knoxville was a portion of what left an impression on the blocker with a double-digit number of offers.
“Just how everything is so centralized,” Elder said. “The stadium — you’re not really there that often — but you have practice facility, workout, training room, nutrition and then your dorms are right there — the new dorms. Then, your classes, you just have to walk to the other part of campus to get to. It’s just really great. Then, the coaching staff I felt like was really good, just have a good family atmosphere.”
The 6-foot-3 1/2, 285-pounder got a list of items that Mahoney likes about his skill set.
“(Mahoney) just really likes the way I play, just physical, hard, coming off the ball fast and finishing blocks, which is what I love to do,” said Elder, who could grow into an offensive tackle with a father who is 6-feet-11.
The Scout three-star prospect from the 2016 class said he’s keeping an “opening mind” with the schools showing interest. No schools have been mentioned publicly as far as a list of favorites.
“Not right now,” he said. “I have some that just stick out in my mind, but I don’t want to make it public because I don’t know if that’s sure enough yet.”
He has criteria in place to help him separate those coming after him the hardest.
“I’d say academics are a big thing with me,” Elder said. “Academics, the football life, how the players are, how the whole coaching staff is, the whole aspect of that. And then campus life and the whole atmosphere with that is a big thing as well.”