Pros and Cons of 4-Star DT Matt Elam's Top Schools
Matt Elam is a monster defensive tackle prospect from Kentucky who stands 6'6" and 350 pounds. He has impressive power, and he can be a load in the defensive trenches. With his strength, ability to anchor versus running plays and natural space-eating capabilities, Elam is wanted by many programs.
However, he has narrowed his list to six schools, according to Brian Eldgride of Scout.com. No timetable has been set for Elam's decision, but he will need to take his time and decide which program gives him the best chance to succeed academically and as a football player.
A dominant SEC program can picture Elam being its next great nose tackle, while another program believes he can help it compete with SEC teams in bowl games. A Big Ten program feels he would compliment its speedy defensive ends, and staying close home is also a great option for Elam.
The Volunteers have a renewed sense of energy under new coach Butch Jones. Elam would be able to play for an SEC program while staying relatively close to home.
Early playing time is likely available for Elam in Knoxville, as the Vols would use him as a run-down defender early in his career. The football team receives great support from its fanbase, and the facilities are great.
Elam may not be a great fit in Tennessee's defensive scheme, and he stated to Brian Eldgride of Scout.com that a Volunteer coach initially felt the same way. Elam will have to take a wait-and-see approach to Tennessee, as Jones has yet to even coach one game for the Vols.
Tennessee is not as high in the SEC pecking order as its was in the last decade.
Head coach Charlie Strong is one of the top defensive minds in the country. Strong is open and honest with his players, who in turn are fiercely loyal to him.
Louisville is a program on the rise, as it is scheduled to join the ACC in 2014. Elam would play as a true freshman, as Strong would put him in a position to succeed right away.
Playing for Louisville would allow Elam to stay inside his native state of Kentucky.
Louisville is not as glamorous as other programs on Elam's list, and Strong could leave for a higher-profile program before Elam graduates.
The Cardinals will have to overcome schools such as Florida State, Clemson and Miami each season to win their conference.
The Buckeyes are led by Urban Meyer, who is one of the best coaches in recent history. Meyer is a proven winner, and he also recruits at an elite level. Elam would be able to play for one of the top programs in the country, and would be surrounded by talented players.
His strong and powerful style of play fits in well in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes have solid facilities, a great fanbase and are always in the hunt for the Big Ten title. Ohio State is one of the best non-SEC programs in the country.
Also, Columbus is not far from Kentucky.
If Elam has his heart set on playing in the SEC, then that's the only main con for Ohio State regarding his recruitment.
Notre Dame has the best academic reputation of any school on Elam's list. An Irish degree would be an outstanding insurance policy for when Elam's playing days are over.
Notre Dame also receives national exposure, has a worldwide fanbase and the program has unrivaled tradition. Head coach Brian Kelly is one the best in the business, and has armed the Irish with a wealth of young talent.
Notre Dame runs a base 3-4 defense, which Elam would be a seamless fit in. Immediate playing time is possible in South Bend.
The culture of Notre Dame's program and campus is not ideal for every recruit. Elam will need to get a solid feel for if this is the environment he wants to spend four years of his life in.
Kelly could bolt for an NFL job before Elam graduates.
Alabama is the premier program in college football. It is a winning program, sends many players to the NFL, has fantastic facilities and has a passionate fanbase.
Head coach Nick Saban is regarded by many as the best coach in the country. Saban never fails to sign an elite recruiting class, runs a pro-style 3-4 defense and dominates the SEC.
It wouldn't get any better than Alabama for Elam.
Alabama's program is extremely demanding on its players. Elam would have to be certain that he is prepared to make the kind of commitment it takes to succeed at 'Bama.
He would not be assured early playing time.
Kentucky offers Elam the chance to stay close to home while playing in the SEC. New head coach Mark Stoops is a defensive-minded coach, so he would help Elam develop into a great college defensive tackle.
Stoops has re-infused passion and excitement into the program, and has already gotten results on the recruiting trail. Elam would be able to help build his top in-state program into a juggernaut, which would make him a statewide hero.
Elam would likely start as a true freshman in Lexington.
Kentucky is not a powerhouse program in the SEC, and the Men's Basketball team will always be more beloved than the football team. Stoops is a first-year head coach, so he needs to prove he can win.
Elam would have to deal with SEC schools such as LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida every year just to win his conference.