Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Jalen Elliott Embracing Significant Leadership Role In '19

March 5, 2019
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Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott experienced growing pains through his first two seasons at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder not only had to make the transition from quarterback to safety, but he also saw playing time as a true freshman because of depth issues on the Irish roster. 

2018 was the Virginia native’s breakout season as he recorded 67 tackles and four interceptions after recording 56 tackles and forced zero turnovers his first two seasons. 

“It’s definitely been a move,” Elliott said of his growth over the last year. “Alohi (Gilman), Coach (Terry) Joseph and the support of Coach (Clark) Lea have definitely helped and made it an easier transition. I’m just continuing to push myself through the whole process and not taking a step back is big for me as well.” 

Joseph arrived in South Bend last winter and has taken the safety unit from a weakness to a strength. Now, Joseph has benefited from his guys having experience, but he’s also taken the time to build relationships to let his guys know he truly cares.

“I love the way he coaches and the energy he brings to the room,” explained Elliott. “I appreciate him giving us the techniques to be successful. We have a great off the field relationship and it’s just building.

“His everyday consistency with all the techniques. I don’t think it was one or two. He did a great job of making it repetitive and easy for us to understand.” 

Elliott isn’t a finished product on the field as he enters his senior year, but he also is focused on taking the next step in his development. Leadership is the next step on Elliott’s path and he’s fully embraced the opportunity.

“I feel like I’ve always been a vocal leader,” stated Elliott. “As far as talking in front of the team, I feel it has to be earned. I feel the guys have come to me and said I earned it. I want to continue to earn it. I want to lead by example as well as being a vocal leader.” 

Part of Elliott’s rise to a leadership role goes back to his quarterback days at Lloyd C. Bird.

“I always say safety is the quarterback of the defense,” Elliott explained. “Being able to elaborate what I want to say and put guys in the right places is what I did at quarterback. I think it translated to safety. As far as technique, it took some time to make sure I was in the right places at the right time and to make sure I was using the right techniques in the right situations.” 

Confidence has allowed Elliott to take his game to the next level and it should easily translate into his leadership style, but he also knows he has to continue to make plays on the field.

“We have a younger secondary, so I want to make sure I’m leading by example and pushing those young guys,” Elliott said. “I want to make sure I’m also not losing myself while doing that. I want to make sure I’m pushing myself in every aspect of the game whether it’s lifting, on the field or watching film.” 

Sophomore safeties Derrik Allen and Paul Moala will be given a chance to get significant reps this spring. Gilman is battling a strain and head coach Brian Kelly said they would be careful with him all spring, but Elliott has also earned the chance to get a few reps off to let the youth of the Irish secondary develop. 

“They are pushing to get better every day,” said Elliott. “We knew we needed guys to step up regardless of if Alohi is back or not. We have to have those young guys to push us and come in to make plays when needed. We saw them step up and we’re asking them to be consistent.” 

 
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