CLEMSON, SC -- Exactly how would Chad Elliott fit in at Clemson?
Elliott, a quarterback at American River Junior College, came out of nowhere
and committed to Clemson two months ago after watching the Clemson -Florida
State game on television.
"The things coach (Tommy) Bowden does like faking field goals and punts and
plays is exciting," said Elliott. "I see him guruing over there. It's just
exciting. That's the kind of coach you want to play for to win a national
And Elliott would certainly bring excitement to the Clemson program.
He's a guy that likes to play and likes to throw the ball. He also likes
sitting on the bench as much as a cat likes a dip in the lake. Finding a
place for Elliott could be interesting.
"I started playing football when I was eight, I was a linebacker and second
string guard," he said. "The coach finally moved his son out of the
quarterback spot and I've been a quarterback ever since. The other players
parents would get mad because me and my dad wanted to throw the ball and we
would tell the coach that he needed to be throwing like 20 times a game.
They wanted us to run the ball and hand the ball off to their kids and
Fast forward about five years. Elliott leads Grass Valley, California's
Nevada Union High School to the section championship as a sophomore. That's
the equivalent of a state championship in California.
Elliott was happy until Grant Valley's coach switched the offense to the
wing-T. After his junior season at Nevada Union he went shopping for a
school that would pass the ball. He didn't have to go far to find Grant High
School, Nevada Union's rival.
"You've got to understand that everybody is close knit in Grass Valley," he
said. "You go to the grocery store or the movie theater and everybody knows
each other. I was the hero as a sophomore. When I moved to Grant it was
wild. It got blown out of proportion."
Grant is in Sacramento, an hour away from Grass Valley. He and his parents
got an apartment there to satisfy the transfer requirements.
He threw 47 touchdowns and just three interceptions during his season at
Fast forward a couple of years. Elliott, after redshirting his first season
at Arizona State, was stuck behind local boy Ryan Kealy at quarterback. And
Elliott was not happy.
"They were telling me when I visited that I was going to start right away,"
he said. "And I go there and the story changes immediately. All I was told
was just learn the system, learn the system and I felt like I had already
learned the system and I made that known. I was making plays and I was more
mobile than the starter."
After two years at Arizona State, Elliott burned rubber back to Sacramento.
On the advice of UNLV coach John Robinson, he enrolled at American River to
give him time to figure out his options.
He led American River to over 40 points a game and its conference
championship this season. Clemson started recruiting Elliott during the
summer and he committed to the Tigers midway through the season.
But where does Elliott fit in?
He's not the quarterback of the future - that's Willie Simmons. He's not
comfortable as a back-up. His dream growing up wasn't to play for Clemson -
he visited the campus for the first time this week. Clemson doesn't need a
quick fix at quarterback - it has Woody Dantzler coming back if Simmons
isn't ready to play right away. Elliott also doesn't have a lot of time to
learn Clemson's offensive system.
On the surface, it looks like a problem waiting to happen. Elliott hasn't
proven that he can be content as a back-up and Simmons expects to play if
"I can't afford to make a bad decision now," Elliott said. "If I don't get
the starting job, I'm going to be dissatisfied, but I'm going to be a
Clemson Tiger one hundred percent and I'm going to give it all in the role
that I have."
Elliott could enroll in a couple of weeks if he signs with Clemson. There's
a couple of things keeping him from signing right away. First, he visited
Syarcuse this week. "I just want to make sure I do the right thing this
time," he said.
He also made a D in one of his classes at American River, which could be a
problem with Clemson's admissions office.
"The teacher for that course went somewhere for the holidays," said Elliott.
"We'll see what we can do when he gets back I guess. We've left voice mails.
A bunch of voice mails. It would have been different if I hadn't shown up
for the class and done all the work required. It was just unfortunate that I
got a d on the final."
Still, by all accounts Elliott still wants to be a Tiger.
"Quarterbacking is all about competing," said Chad's dad Stan Elliott. "If
he can't do it at Clemson, how is he going to be able to do it in the NFL?"