Jake Elliott, a Lyons Township grad and junior kicker at Memphis, already has racked up an impressive amount of stats and accomplishments in his two years with the Tigers. As the starting kicker both years he’s been on campus, Elliott is eighth all-time at Memphis with 192 career points and his 56-yard field goal as a freshman is the longest field goal in program history.
In addition to Elliott’s individual success, Memphis went 10-3 last season, going to a bowl game for the first time since 2008 and winning a bowl for the first time since 2005. Elliott hit a 54-yard field goal in the Miami Beach Bowl to send the game to double overtime, where Memphis won 55-48.
Elliott is a two-time American Athletic Conference First Team All-Conference placekicker, was the AAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014 and is a standout student with a 3.84 GPA.
Elliott spoke with Suburban Life sports reporter Dan Santaromita about his success at Memphis and what lies ahead.
Santaromita: Memphis had a big turnaround year last year. What was that like?
Elliott: It was huge to be a part of because we haven’t had that much success in the past and it was huge for the city in general. Everyone is excited about football and we haven’t seen that in a while.
Santaromita: I’m sure you had some confidence in the team, but did you ever expect to win 10 games?
Elliott: We didn’t really know what to expect going into last year. We had a bunch of returners and definitely thought we could make a run.
Santaromita: How did you land at Memphis?
Elliott: Recruiting went kind of slow for me. At the end of the day I had some preferred walk-ons offers from Big Ten schools. I only had one scholarship offer and that was at North Dakota. Memphis came in late and offered me. I loved everything and the coaching staff, and it was a good decision for me.
Santaromita: You’ve won some all-conference awards and are garnering preseason awards as well. Do awards mean anything to you?
Elliott: It’s nice to be respected in a sense, but the way I look at it is that’s what’s expected. It’s something to strive for but not really anything significant until I put all the pieces together during the season.
Santaromita: How did you get into kicking?
Elliott: I was always a big tennis player growing up. I played every sport growing up. Junior year of high school I hadn’t even thought about playing football. I was messing around with some buddies who knew I could kick. They asked me to come out for summer and it worked out.
Santaromita: Was there a point where you realized you had a future in kicking?
Elliott: Junior year I had a pretty big year there. After the season I started hearing some buzz and thought this could turn into something.
Santaromita: Have you ever messed around with trick shots?
Elliott: A little bit. You goof around with some of that stuff in the offseason. Every once in a while I mess around with it, but for the most part you stay focused and work hard.
Santaromita: What are you goals for this year?
Elliott: I’d say team-wise just another 10-win season would be huge just to build on. We’re missing some leadership from last year so we need to step up in that way and turn this into a successful program.
Santaromita: Do you keep up with the team at LT?
Elliott: I’ll talk to some of the characters every once in a while just to keep up. Every time I go back home I stop by and see what’s going on.