Resilient and persistent, former Anchorage multisport star Leroy Elliott is still chasing his dream
Leroy Elliott Jr. is no stranger to the road less traveled.
Since graduating from West High eight years ago, Elliott’s journey has taken him to four different colleges and he has overcome the kind of adversity that could crush others.
One of Alaska’s most decorated athletes of the past decade, Elliott’s ultimate goal is to make it to the NFL. Although his chances of making it to the league at age 26 are slim, he overcame many obstacles to become an All-America track athlete.
“I don’t have this mentality that football isn’t for me,” Elliott said. “I feel like it’s quite the opposite. I feel like I was made for it. It’s my goal and my main dream.
His college athletic career has been bumpy, but he believes it has strengthened his resolve and boosted his self-confidence.
“Throughout this journey, it was a little difficult because I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to end up. But looking back, I feel like it was a quiet blessing in disguise,” said Elliott.
Elliott just completed his senior year at Adams State University in Colorado, where he was a member of the track team.
He finished third in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2022 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships and also qualified for the National Outdoor Championship.
In the fall, he plans to join the Adams State football program for the first time since 2020, when he was on the roster before the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Showing off her talent
As a senior at West, Elliott led the Eagles to an Alaska Division I State Football Championship in the fall of 2013 and was named Gatorade Player of the Year. In 2014, he won a state title in wrestling and multiple state titles in track.
He received offers from college DII and DIII to play wide receiver, but decided to go to Butte Community College in California. His first season was a gray shirt year, the junior college equivalent of a red shirt. But Elliott decided to transfer after a year because the offense didn’t feature the passing game as much as he had hoped.
But in his only season there, Chabot College – also in California – caught his eye. When Butte played against Chabot, Elliott was impressed with their high-volume passing game and eye-catching uniforms.
He ran his junior college track freshman year in Chabot in 2015-16 and won All-America honors, but didn’t play football that year because he was injured in a scrimmage match and had to wear a medical red shirt that year.
In the fall of 2016, he played his first football season since moving to West High.
“I only started halfway through the season and got five touchdowns and 200 to 300 yards,” Elliott said.
After the season ended, he transferred to another junior college, City College of San Francisco, due to changes in Chabot’s coaching staff. There, he posted similar numbers to his previous season at Chabot.
“The coaches saw that I had talent, but at the time I guess they weren’t really too sure that I understood the games because I was a transfer. So they didn’t have much faith in me until halfway through the season,” Elliott said.
At that time, Elliott said, he was being scouted by some Division I schools for football, but his grades weren’t up to par.
Elliott said the main reason his academics suffered was that he spent most of his time trying to figure out where he and his brother, Chardo, who joined him at City College, were going to live.
“By the time we got back from winter break, our roommates hadn’t paid rent and we were all kicked out and split up because we were all going to different schools,” Elliott said.
He said that from February to September 2018 he and his brother were homeless.
“There were a lot of times we slept in the car,” Elliott said. “I was in survival mode.”
He said finding affordable housing in San Francisco was nearly impossible.
“For the first few months of that year, we were pretty much homeless,” Elliott said. “I had to stay another semester to get good grades and even had to take summer classes because I failed all my classes.”
He viewed this period as a test of his determination to see if he was serious about pursuing his dreams.
“I don’t want to let my family down,” Elliott said. “I don’t want to let people down who believe in me and I don’t want to let myself down.”
Homelessness put a temporary damper on his athletic career.
He had to make up more classes in the fall of 2018 and did not compete. He also didn’t play in 2019 as he had no offers from any school.
Although now in a stronger place, he said he still struggles with food insecurity and resorts to intermittent fasting.
In the spring of 2020, an old friend and former high school foe at Palmer High — Ben Aumavae — reached out. He was at Adams State (a Division II program) and told Elliott that the program wanted him to continue for football but was not going to offer him a scholarship right away.
Elliott was unable to play in the fall of 2020 as COVID-19 caused the season to be canceled, and in 2021 he focused on training for the track.
He said he felt in the right place after winning his third All-America on track and qualifying for the national championships.
“Everything from now on will depend on God,” Elliott said. “I’m still confident in my abilities but I know that without him I really am nothing.”
He could potentially have another two years of eligibility if he recovers his medical redshirt season, but even if he doesn’t, Elliott is determined to make the most of this fall.
“As I’m already 26, I want to play one more season of (college) football and see how it goes,” Elliott said. “After that, I want to declare myself for the repechage.”
Pro Football Hope
He also said he would consider playing in one of the supplemental leagues such as the American Football League, Canadian Football League or XFL when it relaunches in February if a direct route to the NFL is not possible. available.
“As long as I think about it and stay focused, kick bad habits, stay disciplined, motivated and consistent all the time, I know I can go far,” Elliott said.
Elliott believes his measurable numbers and athletic testing are on par with wide receivers already in the league.
Athletics can offer dual-sport athletes, or those who have never had a good chance at football by excelling in another sport, the opportunity to make their way into the NFL.
American track star and two-time Olympian Devin Allen signed a three-year contract in April with the Philadelphia Eagles at age 27 after falling off the charts at Oregon Pro Day. He hasn’t played football since 2016, but just recorded the third-best 110m hurdles time in history.
Another recent example of an older-than-usual wide receiver reaching the league is former Tennessee volunteer Velus Jones Jr., who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft at 25. year.
Focus on the student
Elliott said no one told or advised him to give up his athletic pursuits, but some of his coaches in recent years have had candid conversations with him about the importance of education and preparing for life after cancer. sport.
Elliott believes that everything he has endured so far on his journey has made him more driven than the average athlete.
“When a lion is starving, that’s when it’s most dangerous,” Elliott said.
He said his grades are up now and he even made the honor roll last semester with a 3.3 GPA.
“I really stepped up my game in that sense,” Elliott said. “I know when I was homeless my grades dropped, but now they’re at the highest they’ve ever been.”
Aspirations after sports
Elliott graduated in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in business. He plans to take courses to add a minor in psychology.
His field of study has helped him better understand his own body and how it functions and adapts.
“Kinesiology has definitely helped me become a better athlete because now I know how to recover properly, how to train properly, what to do and what not to do,” Elliott said.
Even though he’s not making it to the NFL, Elliott still has plans to get involved in the sport after his playing days are behind him.
He loves the impact his coaches have had on him over the years and will likely pursue a career as a strength and conditioning coach if his athletic career doesn’t advance further.
“I know the impact they had on me, and I want to have the same impact on someone else,” Elliott said.