The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Off the football field, former College of San Mateo superstar Eddie Elder has never met an obstacle he couldn’t overcome.
Local sports fans remember Elder for his All-American 2009 campaign where he was a key cog in CSM’s march to the Northern California title.
Following a successful run at Arizona State University, Elder finds himself in a familiar state as he strives toward his goal of one day becoming an NFL player.
“I don’t mind not being drafted,” Elder said as he currently partakes with the Arizona Cardinals in off-season Organized Team Activities or, OTAs in a try-out kind of role. “There are plenty of players out there that have been successful that weren’t drafted. I’ve always been an underdog, so it’s really nothing new. So, I’m just going to do my best to achieve those things.”
When the NFL draft rolled around, Elder was left without a team and instead accepted an invitation to Arizona’s mini-camp where he’s fighting day to day for a spot on the training camp roster and hopefully on an NFL sideline come the 2012-2013 season.
“The pressure is on every day, but I don’t think about it,” Elder said. “My family drives me. They support me, no matter what.
“Really, it’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve always wanted since I was a little kid. Of course, I would have liked to have gone a different direction and got drafted. But, I just have to deal with my situation and go from there.”
Elder played in all 25 games with 20 starts in two seasons at Arizona State and totaled 130 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defended, one sack and a forced fumble.
Before then, his career and story as a Bulldog was legendary. From not having the academics to attend Oregon, to stepping onto a football field at CSM and playing over 20 games at safety, to being one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation. Elder left CSM in 2010 with the school record for interceptions (13) and the winner of the NorCal Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and a NorCal championship in the same year.
Now, after receiving his bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Sociology and Communications, Elder, who admitted to a bit of adjustment period on and off the field once he got to ASU, looks to tackle his biggest dream yet.
“They were just happy for me,” Elder said of his support team, “because I’ve accomplished things that family hadn’t — I was the first in my family to graduate.
“Not only family, but friends, people at my old high school and at my old JUCO. I’m just trying to set the bar and let people know that they can do whatever they put their mind to.”
As always when the game progresses up the levels of play, players must do their best to keep up in a sink-or-swim world of the NFL.
“Not only the speed of the game, but the speed of the calls, the play calls,” Elder said of some of the challenges. “You have to see a formation, identify it and make the checks right away because they’re going to snap the ball whether you’re ready or not.
“Scouts fall in love with size, but at the same time, this is football. We play the sport for a reason and I’ve made it this far and I’ve proved people wrong. The Cardinals gave me a chance and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
As is the norm with the growing Bulldog Nation, which is sending top talent across the county, Elder counts on the support of the school and team that put him in a position to live out his dream.
“Honestly, there’s nothing like the Bulldog Nation,” Elder said. “There are a lot of good things going on over there, it’s a dynasty. We’re just trying push forward for the future and for anyone who wants to be a Bulldog. It’s family over there. Everyone is close. It’s a great place and the coaches, they’re happy [for me] because they knew my situation and I do have hard time trying to adjust but they got me through it. We made it happen.”