Film study: Notre Dame DB commit Jalen Elliott
DB Jalen Elliott, 6-1, 177; Chesterfield (Va.) L.C. Bird.
The numbers: Elliott intercepted five passes, broke up seven more and added 14 tackles on defense during his senior season at L.C. Bird. Elliott also played quarterback and threw for 928 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Skyhawks (11-1) finished the season with a loss in the second round of the VHSL Group 5A playoffs.
The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 15 safety. 247Sports – Three stars, No. 28 athlete.
First impression: Elliott is a dynamic athlete who has shown a lot of versatility in his high school career. He is a ball hawk in the secondary with a penchant for making big plays. Elliott could play safety or cornerback at Notre Dame.
Strengths: Elliott has shown a strong football intelligence. He seems to put himself in the right position to make plays for his team in the secondary. His ball skills are excellent. He closes in quickly on receivers to get a hand on the ball or even intercept the pass. With the play in front of him, Elliott reads quarterbacks well. Elliott looks as comfortable in his backpedal as he does moving forward.
He did what? (:47 vs. Matoaca) Elliott drops back deep in coverage. He puts himself in a spot to make a play on the ball and snags an interception on the sideline making sure he stays inbounds … (1:07 vs. Midlothian) Elliott rolls to his left for a pass but can’t settle for a throw because of the pass rush. Elliott aborts the play and turns it into a long run. After he passes the line of scrimmage, Elliott makes two defenders miss in the open field. He then circles around trying to find room with his blockers. He keeps the play alive a little longer for a 35-yard gain … (:11 vs. Clover Hill) Elliott has to cover the pass more than his receiver because of a poor throw from the quarterback. Elliott extends to make a nice catch for the interception … (1:26 vs. Louisa County) Elliott shows his pure speed on a quarterback run to the left. He outruns the entire defense down the sideline for a touchdown of nearly 65 yards.
Competition level: L.C. Bird cruised through the regular season against a schedule with few standout teams. The bid for back-to-back state titles was ended by Hermitage, the No. 3 team in Virginia according to MaxPreps. Virginia has been a fertile recruiting ground in recent years with pockets of talented players. As of 2015, only seven states produced more top 100 recruits in the last five years.
Left to prove: Elliott seems to have the raw tools to be a dependable defensive back. He just needs the polish. Having the responsibility of being his team’s quarterback in high school may have prevented him from putting in the time to sharpen his technique as a defensive back. At times, Elliott was relying on his athleticism rather than sound fundamentals in high school. He won’t be able to do that at the college level. He needs to be more precise in transitioning in and out of breaks while covering receivers. Elliott’s skill set may be better suited for safety, but his size may make cornerback a better option. How he balances those two things will dictate his position at Notre Dame.