USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox followed in the footsteps of Alex Molden at Oregon, joining the Ducks’ secondary in 1996 as Molden was departing as the New Orleans Saints’ first round draft pick — the first cornerback selected in the 1996 NFL Draft.
Now Wilcox is paying close attention to someone else trying to follow in Alex Molden’s footsteps, his son Elijah. With Wilcox’s brother, Josh, playing for the Saints in 1998 and 1999, Justin and Alex have crossed paths often. And Justin remembers Elijah as just a little toddler in diapers.
“He said he knew me when I was a little kid when I was like 1-year old running around,” Elijah said. “I think that’s awesome and I’m really interested in them.”
Like his father, Elijah Molden is a highly touted defensive back. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound West Linn (Ore.) cornerback will only be a junior this fall, but has already earned a reputation as a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think I’m physical as a corner. I’m not the biggest at 5-foot-10, but I’m physical. I can move my feet,” Molden said. “I have pretty high expectations of myself. I want to win every rep.”
Many people believe he is a lock to become an Oregon Duck like both his parents before him, but that’s not a given. The Molden family lived in San Diego before moving to West Linn in 2006, so Elijah said he’s paid close attention to the cardinal and gold thanks to another player that used to live in San Diego.
“I grew up in San Diego, so I’ve been a fan of USC ever since Reggie Bush and all of those guys.”
Molden recently took an unofficial visit to Troy to check out the campus.
“It was great. All the coaches were out recruiting other players, so it was just a couple of assistant recruiting directors, but it was great. I loved the campus. I love the tradition there. That was the highlight for me.”
On his trip, Molden said he was able to check out the McKay Center and came away impressed by the locker room and training room, but it’s not all about the bells and whistles schools can offer with new amenities.
“Nowadays, all of the colleges have the right equipment. I think for USC, the Coliseum was great. It was great to visit there. It was incredible. Facilities are great to show off to the recruits and all that stuff, but when it comes down to it, you can get better wherever.”
Molden is working on improving this offseason in the 7-on-7 and camp circuit, but he had a setback in March when he suffered a fractured skull during the Pylon 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas. Molden only has four offers currently, but schools may be taking a wait-and-see approach based on how his summer results start to heat up.
USC is a school Molden thinks could be close to extending a scholarship offer.
“They said they were really interested in me. They talked to my coach Chris Miller and hopefully, I like to think, they are close to offering. I’ve talked to Coach Wilcox and a number of the other coaches.”
Check out these Elijah Molden highlights playing running back last season: