October 07, 2010
On Wednesday, The Oklahoman reported that Oklahoma State landed a commitment from a fast-rising linebacker in Texas. That hardly seems out of the ordinary, yet Alex Elkins is one of the most unique recruits among major national recruiting classes for one reason: He never played high school football.
Elkins is a sophomore at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, one of the nation's premier junior college programs which routinely sends top players to Division I schools across the country. By those standards, Elkins' commitment is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet his lack of football past sends Elkins' story far from the everyday. Unlike most Blinn players, who arrive on campus after heralded high school careers, Elkins had never played a day of organized football before he arrived on the East Texas campus.
A high school baseball star in Georgia before a senior transfer to Keller (Texas) High, Elkins was on track for a collegiate scholarship before a broken hand ended his high school career. According to the Brenham Banner-Press, Elkins was on vacation in Panama City, Texas, the following summer when his mother told him about a football combine being held at Blinn, where prospective athletes were competing for a football scholarship. With no firm collegiate plans and plenty of competitive drive yet to tap, Elkins showed up in Brenham for the combine, and later landed a scholarship after standing out among some 200 other athletes who actually had played football in high school.
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"There were a lot of talented athletes there and I was like ‘What did I get myself into?'" Elkins told the Banner-Press. "I showed them what I was capable of and earned the spot."
A year and a half later, Elkins is aiming for 80 tackles and eight sacks against the best competition in the junior college ranks. The sophomore relies on his athleticism -- he stands 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and runs a 4.47 second 40-yard dash -- and a brief stint on Keller High's rugby team to help compensate for his lack of experience.
"Every time I go onto the field I want to make the play," Elkins told the Brenham Banner-Press. "I critique myself in practice to make myself better. I learn by reps and I don't take any steps back.
"I talked to the 2009 linebacker coach and he asked me what position I played. I told him quarterback because I was a pitcher. He said Blinn already had a quarterback, so what other position was I trying out for, and I told him that I never played football before. He said ‘why don't you try the linebacker position?' and the position worked for me."
While Elkins is still learning on the fly, his junior college coach said he has little doubt that the linebacker will be a success at the next level, just as he's been at Blinn.
"He's only played 17 [games of] football and for him to get the attention and recruiting he's gotten says a lot," The Oklahoman reported that Blinn head coach Brad Franchione told Oklahoma State website GoPokes.com. "The best football for him is in front of him. He's learning the game and as he learns the game, he's going to continue to play faster and faster."
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