When Elijah Theus Jr. first stepped into the halls of Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas, few knew his nickname. Then he let one of his football coaches know that some of his childhood friends had combined Theus and Jr. into a little-used acronym.
"Now the coaches start calling me T.J., then, you know, my [teammates] start calling me T.J., the teachers and the fans, the students and all that stuff," Theus said. "Then, even the paper and the announcers and all that kind of stuff, they are calling me T.J., and I'm like, ‘Aw, man.'"
Theus, though, said that he really does not mind the name change.
"T.J.'s like a football name now," he said. "Everybody just goes by T.J. when I'm playing football."
By any name, Elijah "T.J." Theus Jr., is a standout at Kempner (3-4 overall, 3-2 in district). He ranks second in Texas' District 20-5A in receptions (24) and receiving yards (341) and also has two touchdown catches.
College coaches have taken notice. Theus has scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Arizona, Nebraska, Duke, Tulsa, Houston and Colorado.
"Right now Wisconsin is pretty much my favorite school," Theus said.
Theus, though, said that two schools that have not offered—Utah and TCU—are among his favorites.
"I would say Wisconsin is up there at the top, Utah is up there at the top, maybe TCU and then the rest," Theus said. "These other schools that have offered me they haven't been talking to me so I've been leaning off of them too and moving on to the other schools who are talking to me and letting me know about their school and what's going on, stuff like that."
Theus is in his third season as a varsity wide receiver. He is also playing cornerback this season.
"Last spring I kind of worked on going both ways," Theus said. "Pretty much now I'm going to have to be going both ways throughout the season."
All of the schools that have offered, in addition to Utah and TCU, are looking at Theus as a receiver, he said.
Theus has an official visit to Wisconsin scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 22. He stressed the Badgers' coaching staff, in particular the coach recruiting him, Rob Ianello, as a major reason why he was interested in UW.
"They sound like a good school that's going to treat me good and not just out for my talent or anything like that," Theus said. "They're looking at the person on the inside and seeing what I can offer them. They are telling me what they can offer me and I guess, program-wise, you know, you can't say enough, they're….[6-0] right now. In the Big Ten—that's a big conference too. That conference plays, you know, they have a game every single Saturday…on TV. Just playing in the league and seeing all the fans in… the renovation of the stadium…. 80,000 fans now—that's just like a dream come true."
Theus said that quality academics and the strength of the football program drew him toward TCU.
"Great academics," he said. "Good program, you know, successful last year, doing good this year, just playing kind of harder teams at first but that's what you've got to do to be the best, you know, play the hardest teams and you get better. I think that's a real good program."
Theus also likes the coaches at Utah and is intrigued by the Utes' persistent use of four- and five-wide receiver formations.
"Great coaching staff," he said. "Real good coaches to talk to. It's a real different offense for me, something I've never played in before and it would be probably pretty cool to play. I know that's every wide receiver's dream. So, I guess that's something new to look at."
Theus said he is concentrating on the schools that are contacting him most often.
"I don't have a certain school that I could go to," Theus said. "I know how, you know, you have other players who wish LSU or the University of Texas, somebody like that will call them. I just look at it this way…if they don't call me then that's just their fault, and I'll just go somewhere and be the best that I can be and, hopefully, if I play against them one day I'll show off what I had, show everyone else what they could have had."
Theus talented by any name
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