[Vandal] Elliss ‘Shooting For The NFL’

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Fri Apr 16 11:59:47 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoFriday, April 16, 2021
Elliss ‘Shooting For The NFL’
Exceptional Vandal LB could be making final collegiate appearance Saturday
By Colton Clark
Christian Elliss feels he has shown enough. Considering his standout resume, there aren’t many who’d disagree.
The University of Idaho’s exceptional senior strongside linebacker, arguably the Vandals’ most talented pound-for-pound player, intends to ink a professional contract after Idaho’s abbreviated spring season concludes.
He will leave open his option of returning for an extra year of eligibility — granted by the NCAA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — but hopes to hear his name called at the NFL draft, which runs from April 29-May 1.
“I’m shooting for the NFL this year,” Elliss told reporters Tuesday. “If I get drafted, I get drafted, and if I get a good free-agency deal, if it comes to that, then I’m going."
“If neither of those things happen, then I still have eligibility left. I haven’t signed with any agents, I haven’t broken any NCAA eligibility things. ... But the goal is to play at the next level.”
Elliss’ final appearance as a Vandal could come Saturday, when Idaho takes on Northern Arizona at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz. 
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Pacific. {https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.pluto.tv/live-tv/watch__;!!JYXjzlvb!3fZPd6CdOg2J6RxlUYChVFNe3NMOqRJWgQp0CxwtXKlv0Bk-OlRxDUCOr76zzWsE$  -- Pluto TV 1058}
“I’ve been here for four years. It’s my last ride — maybe, we’ll see,” he said. “One last rodeo, so I’m excited to be out there and be with my brothers.”
Elliss attracted a dozen NFL scouts to Moscow in late March. Despite playing against Southern Utah two days prior, his pro-day marks were impressive.
Just like his brother’s two years before.
Christian Elliss surpassed combine averages for outside linebackers in every standard drill except one, according to data compiled by Ourlads.com.
In 2019, Kaden Elliss had a similarly superb pro day. He then was drafted in the seventh round by the New Orleans Saints, with whom he still plays as a reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor.
“I beat Kaden in almost all of (the pro-day drills),” said Christian, surely sporting a grin behind his face mask. “Except, Kaden’s really good at short distance. I’d say I’m faster than Kaden, and in the weight room, I can lift more. But he’s quicker. Just by a hair.”
Christian is aiming to become the third in his family to suit up in the big leagues — his father, Idaho defensive line coach Luther, was an NFL defensive tackle for 10 seasons, from 1995-2004. Luther Elliss was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Detroit Lions.
So yes, the NFL makeup is there.
The latest Elliss pro prospect heard “nothing but kind words and praise” from NFL representatives on hand at the Kibbie Dome, who “recognized that it was two days after a game.” Elliss battled through some expected soreness and fatigue.
“Luckily, with God’s grace, I was able to show them my athletic ability and talents,” he said. “I had some pretty good numbers. I wish I could’ve done a little better, but for two days after a game, it was nice to hear the scouts telling me to take my time and relax.”
That’s similar to the advice Kaden gave his younger brother when he handed off the reins after Idaho’s 2018 season: “Let loose and have fun. Just enjoy it.”
Christian certainly has been a joy for Vandal fans.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder has been a key figure on Idaho’s defense since arriving on the Palouse in 2017 out of Colorado powerhouse Valor Christian High School.
Christian shifted to middle linebacker as a sophomore to fill a void. It was a new role, yet he ended up an All-Big Sky third-teamer.
He returned to his natural strongside spot in 2019 and soon cemented himself among the Football Championship Subdivision’s most pro-ready players. Christian was a first-team All-Big Sky pick that season.
The Vandals also have experimented with some edge-rushing packages for him.
Christian is up to 266 career tackles, with 21 for loss and 4.5 sacks (all during 2019), and is on track to conclude his career as a top-15 all-time Idaho tackler.
This year, he’s captained a Vandal rushing defense that ranks first in the seven-team BSC at 118.8 yards allowed per game. Individually, Christian is No. 3 in the league in tackling average (10 per outing) — and in line to rake in more honors. There were moments this year in which his solo play was responsible for stalling an opponent’s drive.
“We always succeeded with the run game,” Christian said. “Teams weren’t able to do as much as they wanted to do, for the most part, when we had everybody.”
His football knowledge is as deep as his passion for the sport. Christian has been a leader vocally and performance-wise since his sophomore year — shining when reading runs and instructing his compatriots; employing his destructive hitting capabilities and particularly high motor for his stout frame.
What sets him apart most, coach Paul Petrino has said, is ambition.
With Idaho’s depth chart often plagued this season by coronavirus-caused absences, Christian assumed various posts in the defensive box. That sometimes made it difficult to settle in and find a consistent flow.
“Going back, I wish I would’ve let it all go. I wish I would’ve played relaxed instead of trying to process everything,” he said. “It didn’t really hit me until these last few games to really enjoy it. Have fun, dance. When you make a play, celebrate.”
In that case, celebrating was commonplace.
But Christian’s objectives going forward include boosting his “productivity on the ball” — pass-deflections, interceptions and forced fumbles.
He was at his all-around best when he heeded his brother’s guidance.
In the pros, it’ll be Christian’s mantra.
“We only get this opportunity once in our life, so why not go out there and have the most fun with it?” he said. “For a while there, I got a little bit caught up in overthinking, trying to impress NFL scouts, focusing on the wrong things instead of just having fun.
“That’s something I really want to pass off to (brother Noah, a Idaho D-tackle). That’s something Kaden tried to pass off to me. It took me a while to get.”
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