“Do your job”
That was the message Miami Hurricanes’ players told themselves as a 23 point lead crumbled down to a tied game in the fourth quarter.
And on 1st down and ten in overtime, that’s exactly what Junior cornerback Cornelius Elder did; intercepting Nebraska Quarterback Tommy Armstrong and setting up a game winning field goal from Kicker Michael Badgley.
“I didn’t have no receivers to my side, so I was basically just playing the field,” Elder said. “I saw him scramble so I just took off deep. He threw it and it just came right to me.”
But despite the fact that the ball came right to him in overtime, success hasn’t just happened to come his way.
Coming out of High School, Elder was the #17 running back prospect, not defensive back prospect, in the nation. From The Ensworth School in Nashville Tennessee, Elder was a two- sport star who wanted to play basketball and football at the next level. He excelled at both,winning three state championships in both sports.
During his freshman year at Miami, he was listed on both rosters and was realizing his goal. On the football field that year; however, everything changed.
Elder tore his meniscus, and was unable to play basketball that season.
Despite making the practice squad a year later after recovering, Elder decided to leave basketball behind and focus his efforts solely on football.
“Playing two sports is kind of hard,” Elder said in an interview while discussing his decision to leave basketball. “It wears down on your body. During the offseason I need to rest my body and just work on getting stronger.”
Having the offseason has paid off for Elder, who has now used the time to also become a special teams threat.
“We might get the ball every time inside the 50 if they mess around and let him take one back,“Miami quarterback Malik Rosier said after the Hurricanes week one victory against Bethune Cookman. “Having him back there as an explosive player is really gonna help our offense.”
Whether he is on special teams or at cornerback, versatility has become a key to Elder’s game. Ever since the former four-star prospect began to focus primarily on football, he has elevated his talent to another level. In 2015, Elder impressed coaches in camp and became the starting nickel cornerback in Defensive Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s scheme.
Throughout the team‘s 3-0 start Elder has been a bright spot, playing a crucial role in saving the team from a devastating loss. And with his focus solely on football this season, Elder clearly has coaches believing that the sky is the limit.
Bye week this week for the Miami Hurricanes, so coming off their 36-33 victory there is no game prediction for the ‘Canes.