A Welcomed Surprise

A self-described football junkie, Casa (Calif.) Grande tailback Elijah Qualls described himself as a player that is willing to do whatever he can for a couple extra yards. It's a style that mirrors the University of Wisconsin, a main reason why they extended the 265-pound athlete a scholarship.

MADISON - With the way Casa (Calif.) Grande athlete Elijah Qualls has been reeling in offers this month, even he had a hard time keeping track of them. How so? His reaction to being told Wisconsin offered him today while he was busy at a wrestling tournament today says it all.

"Oh, wow, that's really awesome!" Qualls told Badger Nation. "I hadn't really been in contact with them but my coach said he was going to get in contact with him. That's really cool."

While Qualls – a 6-2, 265-pound jumbo athlete – was caught off guard by the offer, he isn't in the dark about what the Wisconsin football program has done the last two seasons. Describing himself as a ‘football junkie' where he can always be found watching college football on the weekends, Qualls did not need to be educated on the running back history at Wisconsin.

"Montee Ball, John Clay, Ron Dayne … there running backs have been awesome," Qualls said. "They've had great running backs and their linemen are great run blockers. That style works for them."

It's a similar style that works well for Qualls at his San Francisco area high school. Last season, Qualls finished with 76 tackles and four sacks on defense while adding 1,139 rushing yards and 215 receiving yards on offense. He even pulled a Montee Ball by passing for a touchdown, as well.

"I do whatever I can to pick up those extra few yards," said Qualls. "Whether it's running around somebody or running through somebody, that's OK. My goal is to break that last tackle and help my team."

In addition to Wisconsin, Qualls has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Iowa State, Michigan, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.

Qualls has also visited UCLA and USC for the school's junior day and plans to go to Washington on March 8th-9th, Oregon on the 19th and Oregon State on the 20th.

"I just love that schools feel I am good enough to play at their school," said Qualls. "I would have been fine with just two or three offers, but all the schools that offered me are great schools."

Qualls' big body gives coaching staffs some options. He's been offered mostly as an athlete, as schools are looking at him to either fill a position at running back, fullback or, potentially, the defensive line. Qualls plays fullback and on the defensive line for Casa Grande and while he would prefer to play on the line, he'd be open to whichever for the school he feels is the best fit.

"Whatever coaches I decide to play for, I know they'll know best of what position I should play," said Qualls.

When he's not running over opponents, Qualls is pinning them, recording a 29-8 record this season as a high school heavyweight wrester and qualifying for the state tournament. When that's done, he'll hit the road.

"I have a family in a lot of these states, so I'll be able to stay with them while I check out the schools and the coaches," said Qualls. "I have family in the Midwest, in Arizona, in Oregon and a few other places. I would love to visit Wisconsin and all the schools that have offered me. I am an open-minded person about everything."

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