After a 9-2 campaign a Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) College, sophomore defensive back Doug Elliot was ready to shift his focus on recruiting. The 6-foot, 210-pounder has versatility in his game, and it is fit for FBS football.
"I'm balanced, I'm a hitter and I can cover," he said of his skill-set. "I try to bang people, but I also get that ball when it's in my area."
"Coming out of high school I was a corner, so I never played safety," he continued. "They moved me there because of my size. The safety position – you just have to be the quarterback of the defense. You have to make calls and make sure everybody is where they need to be. So I learned that safety is the most important part of the defense."
Elliot, who projects as a free safety, has gained interest from New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming after his most recent season. But, looking for his first offer, he took an official visit to Syracuse over the weekend.
The interest from the Orange was gauged by defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, who took a trip to California to meet with Elliot last week.
"He told me he wanted me to get up there on a visit, then on Thursday they flew me out," he said with a laugh.
Elliot arrived in Central New York early Friday morning.
"The weather wasn't too bad for me, the cold didn't really bother me at all," he admitted. "It started feeling far once you start talking to your family members back home. You can't talk to them until 12 o'clock because they're not even up. The difference in time, I didn't feel it until I got back home. I was jet-lagged."
On Day 1, the former Norco (Calif.) High standout got to know the Syracuse staff.
"We had breakfast with the coaches and drove around a little bit," he said. "It's cool out there, it's different. I hung out with the defensive coordinator (Scott Shafer), the O-line coach (Greg Adkins) and the DB coach (Henderson)."
Elliot got to meet with Head Coach Doug Marrone later in the trip.
"I met with him [Marrone] later on that day," he said. "He was real nice, he's a collective dude. He just talked to me and let me know the deal with the new football facilities. They just re-built them.
"They're off the charts…they're ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it."
The visit continued with more meals.
"We went out to dinner, to eat, later on that night," Elliot recalled. "We hung out with the team and a couple of kids from California – the D-tackle Deon Goggins and a receiver named Chris Clark from East L.A. They just kept it real with us and told us what it was like out there."
"They just let us know you can't just go home, you've got to tough it out and make the best of it," he continued. "There will be times you struggle, but you have to tough it out. I'll definitely make the best of that. It's D1 football, it's all I ever wanted to do."
The sophomore was hosted by another sophomore defensive back, Brandon Reddish, who also let him in on the culture of SU football.
"He's a cool guy, laid back," said Elliot. "He kept it real with me and told me everything I need to know about the school. He helped me get to know the coaches and take in the lifestyle, really.
"I was just taking it all in. Just watching, observing."
Elliot had additional meetings with the coaches and particularly Henderson, who is recruiting him.
"He let me know his perspective," he said. "He kept it real, he's a cool guy. The way he was talking, he definitely wants me to come up there – he thinks I'm a good football player. I would definitely love to play for him.
"They have two more JUCO safeties they want to bring up. They want to see our character, that's what Coach Henderson told me. They're looking to take two JUCO safeties, and I was the first one to visit."
After the football protocol, Elliot and fellow official visitors took on the town with some current players. They had a good time, and it enabled Elliot to envision himself on campus next season with a fellow Californian – L.A. Harbor cornerback Cleshawn Page – who was also on a visit there.
"Talking to Cleshawn, we were both talking about the practice and stuff," he said. "We could see ourselves starting and bringing our California swag to New York."
It's safe to say the Orange made a solid overall impression on their latest California JUCO target, who will have three seasons to play two and enroll at his school of choice in January.
Said Elliot, "They're at the top right now. You can't beat the conference they're going into next year [ACC], they're just on top right now."