VIDEO: Elijah Qualls on Spring Ball Day Six

Dawgman.com's Luke Mounger met up Wednesday with Washington junior defensive lineman Elijah Qualls, who wanted to talk mostly about boxing instead of football.

On how it felt to be in full pads: “Good. You don’t really realize how much of a therapy football is for you until it’s just gone for some months. I found myself doing anything I can – I’d go workout, I’d go box – to get that physicality out of it. It’s in our system and we have to get it out somehow, so I tried everything I could. I couldn’t go do head-on-head drills with people, we don’t have gear, so boxing, working out, lifting, play fighting with my little brothers to get some kind of aggression out.”

On where he boxes: “I’ve been to a couple of gyms. There were these people who came and worked out with us last summer and they have a UFC gym so I’ll head there every once in a while.”

On if he spars: “Mostly bag stuff for the most part. I used to box when I was in high school for a year and once I started getting into the sparring I ended up moving. I used to box a lot. I didn’t know if I was going to make it into college so my ‘Plan B’ was becoming a fighter.”

On if he watches boxing/UFC: “All the time. I wrestled, so the one-on-one aspect of the fight intrigues me and I understand how tiring it is because wrestling just by itself I was already hard as hell, so wrestling and fighting at the same time or just boxing is more difficult because, six minutes of a wrestling match, I’m more tired after that than I am after a (football) game.”

On why he likes wrestling so much: “The one-on-one, in football you get one-on-ones, but there’s a whole other game and other aspects going on, but in wrestling it’s you versus him. If you lose it was because you didn’t do your job, you didn’t want it bad enough, you didn’t work hard enough, it was all on you. I absolutely love having a team, I wouldn’t want to play any other sport first, but wrestling is a good little switch-off and it’s interesting.”

On how wrestling helps him as a football player: “A lot. Conditioning, like I said in six minutes of a wrestling match than I am after a game of football. Leveraging, hand-placement, just knowing how to work your body. You have to be extremely coordinated in wrestling. It’s amazing what those guys can do.”

On stepping up as a leader along the defensive line: “I try to do what I can. I don’t want to put myself in that role, but if I see somebody needing a little help with something, I’ll put in my two cents or if I see a guy getting down, I did the same thing my redshirt year, in my redshirt year, I was so used to being good whenever I played that like when I’d win maybe two out of my five reps, that would piss me off. I hated it. My redshirt freshman year, I wondered why I played football. It was a question in my head. I did not know why I played.”

On if he thought about quitting: “It ran through my head a couple of times. It wasn’t like I wanted to give up, but I didn’t want to drag the team down. I thought I was that bad, so when I see a younger guy knocking on himself, we’re harder on ourselves than anybody ever could be, so when I see a younger guy knocking on himself I let him know ‘you’re young, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to develop’, that’s the point of having a long career. That’s why guys don’t leave for the NFL after their freshman year, you have to come here and develop and it takes years. I’m still developing a lot. I have a lot to work on.”

On what he feels he needs to work on: “Diagnosing plays faster. Always perfecting my technique. Technique is something you can never be too good at and it’s something we’re always working on every single day. I’m a perfectionist. If I’m not winning every single rep, I can win nine out of ten reps, but that one rep is going to bother me so much more. I’m actually a sore winner if that makes any sense. Some of the game we won last year, I didn’t like the way that we won that game because I have high standards. We have great players and great coaches and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be an absolute dominant team every time we step on that field.”

What did last year do for this defenses confidence and what’s the expectation for the defense this year? “It let us know we were on the right track but we weren’t satisfied whatsoever. A lot of people kept saying ‘it’s the PAC-12, so people are going to score,’ but we play to pitch shutouts every single game. Anything more than that in all honesty, in my mind especially, is a failure. I don’t feel that there’s anybody on our schedule that we shouldn’t be able to, if not completely shut out, hold to much lower than what their average scoring would be.”

 

On how much did the games like the ASU and Oregon game hurt last year? “I mean, oh my gosh, a lot. I actually didn’t get t play ASU, but I still watched the game and envisioned myself out there and watched film and everything like that. I watched the guys, obviously, and saw what they did. Every time I would watch a game – if it was an away game – as soon as they came back I would try to work with them, let them know what they did from my perspective and what I saw from the game. If I was on the sideline, every time they come to the sideline I would try to help them out. We’re not out here just to try to make ourselves get better. This is a team game. If me helping someone else, even if that made them take my job, we would still be winning and I would be absolutely fine with that.”

 

Who has impressed you on the defensive line? “All the young guys are catching up like Ricky (McCoy), Benning (Potoa’e), all those other dudes. Even Myles (Rice) and some of the new guys, all those dudes are learning fast. Like I said, every time they mess up they’re just down on themselves so much and I try to keep in their ear about it not to be, because they are young guys. I know where they’ve been at. They were used to being the guy in high school and everything like that. Once you get here and you’re just not that dominant dude anymore it bugs you. Keeping in their heads about it, ‘it’s going to happen. You’re going to make mistakes. Just go back to the film room or going back to the drills and keep getting better.”

 

Is it fair to compare you to Danny Shelton? “That’s up to whoever wants to do it. I’ve tried to distinguish myself from Danny (Shelton). But if that’s what people want to keep referring back to it’s not a bad thing. The dude was a first round pick, top 15. It’s just whatever. I don’t mind it. It doesn’t really matter to me.”

 

Do you think of the things you picked up from his game? “Yeah, absolutely. At the same time, Danny was one of the strongest people I’ve ever even seen, and that’s not strength a lot of people have. In all honesty I don’t have that. But I am faster and quicker than Danny. So I try to do what I do while implementing some of what I picked up from him.”

On Tani Tupuo taking reps at fullback and how much he’s asked to play fullback “Man, everyday. But Tani (Tupuo) did good. I was actually really impressed. I came out here with him the day before and he was running drills. I knew he played  tight end in high school but I was still a little worried because four years at defensive line is going to change up your footwork and how you make your cuts and everything like that. I knew he’s be able to do it, I just didn’t think he would be as smooth. But he was very smooth at pro day. He caught the ball nicely, ran his routes well, did the drills good. I was very impressed.”

 

Could you play fullback? “Yeah. What? Easily.”


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