Atmosphere Rules

While many eyes were on the visit of St. Xavier running back Victor Anderson this past weekend, there was another St. X player in the house for WVU's 46-44 win over Louisville.

Offensive lineman Derrick Elder (6-2, 295 lbs., 5.2) was on the field and in the stands for the Mountaineers' comeback win, and he sounded as thrilled as the most diehard Gold and Blue fan with the outcome.

"I loved it. It was a real exciting game. The atmosphere was unbelievable," Elder said excitedly. "I got treated really well there, and the whole place was just electric. I didn't know a lot about West Virginia, because that was my first trip there."

Elder did have a sounding board in the form of his teammate, Anderson, who also took in WVU's win, and they talked a bit about the game and the WVU scene.

"We talked some about all the excitement around the game, and how seriously they take their football," said Elder, who rates "an electrifying game day experience" as one of the things he most wants from his collegiate team. It's obvious that he got that, and more, during West Virginia's rally to overtake the Cardinals.

Like many players on WVU's recruiting list, Elder is still waiting for an offer, but the big lineman figures to begin getting them soon. In addition to West Virginia, he has been to games at Louisville, Cincinnati and Kentucky this year, and counts the Mountaineers, Cardinals, Wildcats and Purdue as his favorites.

Despite playing in a run-dominated offense, Elder believes pass blocking is one of his strengths.

"We don't run much in games, but we still work on pass blocking every day in practice," Elder related. "I learned a lot this summer from the different camps I went to."

Elder attended sessions at Ohio State, Louisville, Indiana, Boston College and Ball State, and said he picked up a number of techniques from different coaches, which he has managed to put together to forge a solid pass blocking style. However, he hasn't ignored his run blocking, which helps make the ground-oriented St. Xavier attack go. He says he relishes running downfield to get more hits on running plays – a trait that will certainly endear him to college coaches.

Elder admits that he has spent some time thinking about blocking for Anderson in college. The pair has made an outstanding combination at St. X, which is primed to make another run at the state title this fall.

"He's excellent to block for – he makes us all look good," said Elder. "You don't have to hold your block a long time. Just give him a little bit of space and he will squirt right through. He's an amazing player."

Elder liked the treatment he got at West Virginia, and lists that as another important item he's looking for when he picks a college.

"I want to go somewhere that fits me well, and the way that the coaches and team treats players is important to me," he explained.

Elder has sent game tapes of his senior season out to several schools, and is now playing the waiting game.

"West Virginia told me they really liked me, and will be evaluating my tape and several other players'," he said. "I'm just waiting to hear from them now. It kind of gets nerve wracking balancing school and football this year while waiting for the call, but I'm sure it will all pay off."

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