By LARRY VAUGHT
Here are insights John Hardin coach Chad Lewis shared about defensive tackl Elam, who won the Paul Hornung Award as the state’s top player, as Elam prepares to announce Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl whether he’ll play for Alabama or Kentucky.
Question: How versatile is Elam? Could he play in the offensive line, even at center, in college if need be?
Lewis: “The thing that is unique about him is that his footwork is almost impeccable. His reach the other day was almost 7-foot. His wingspan and footwork is what sets him apart. If he wanted to play offensive tackle, I guarantee you he could play it. If he wanted to play center … and Florida wanted to recruit him as an offensive lineman because that is what they saw him at. We will see what happens with the future and what it may hold. He is a defensive minded player and where he wants to play first.”
Question: How important was he to your team’s success the last four years?
Lewis: “He’s been very important to the success we have had over the years and the legacy he is leaving will be very important.”
Question: Did the recruiting process ever overwhelm him?
Lewis: “Matt had an outstanding time with recruiting. He is a funny guy and he always had fun. The recruiters always talked about the ability he has to talk in front of cameras and talk to people. A lot of recruits they see don’t have that ability. He can speak and is just a very intelligent, fun-loving young man.
“He did love it. Sometimes it could get overwhelming. The phone calls (from coaches and media) can be overwhelming because people wear him out. But it gave me an opportunity as a head coach I will probably never have again. I was able to meet (Alabama coach) Nick Saban and (Louisville coach) Charlie Strong and (UK coach Mark) Stoops and (Notre Dame coach) Brian Kelly and all these other guys because he handled it all in stride so well.”