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Downers Grove, 08/31/12--Lyons Township High School's Kevin Essig holds the ball for Jake Elliott as he attempts a 52 yard field goal. It was a little short and wide right. Downers Grove South High School hosted Lyons Township High School in football Frid
Jake Elliott confessed that he likely owes teammate Connor Wasz a steak dinner in the near future.
It was Wasz who encouraged Elliott to volunteer as a freshman when pep rally organizers looked for someone out of the crowd to attempt a field goal. Elliott split the uprights.
It shocked even Elliott, who had never played football and instead excelled in tennis.
Elliott would go on to qualify for the state tennis meet the next three years and also played for Lyons’ sophomore basketball team.
As for football, Elliott became an overnight sensation. He was named to the Sun-Times’ all-area team as a junior and planned to sign with Memphis Wednesday on national signing day.
Elliott, a Western Springs resident, chose Memphis over North Dakota, the only other football program to offer him a full scholarship. He turned down the chance to walk on at Illinois.
Elliott was to be one of three Lyons seniors signing Wednesday, along with defensive back Matthew Harris (Northwestern) and offensive lineman Nick Demes (Penn).
Elliott’s career highlight was his 52-yard, game-winning field goal against Oak Park-River Forest in 2011, his first season as kicker. This past season, he converted 15-of-21 field goals and placed 50 of 68 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
After discovering Elliott could kick, Lyons football coach Kurt Weinberg encouraged him to come out for the team as a sophomore. Elliott declined. Another recruiting effort before his junior year by assistant coach Jason Brauer changed his mind.
“It’s insane. When I was younger, obviously, I never thought I would play football,” Elliott said. “This sport was something I never understood. For me, it was always pretty much tennis and I’m a big basketball fan.”
Memphis offered Elliott on Jan. 17 and the senior gave a verbal commitment a day later. The Tigers showed interest after Jamie Kohl, the head of the Kohl Kicking camp in Wisconsin, started calling some schools on Elliott’s behalf. Elliott won a showcase the camp sponsored in December.
“Memphis started recruiting me pretty recently,” Elliott told TigerSportsReport.com. “They saw some film and saw me kick. Coach (James) Shibest told me everything they are trying to do there and it was intriguing. I started looking at them and was impressed with the facilities and the direction they are going.”
Memphis is expected to sign another kicker, Thomas Farst of Briarcrest Christian in Eads, Tenn., according to rivals.com.
Harris, who verbally committed in July, is one of four Northwestern recruits listed as an athlete for a position by rivals.com, along with former Lincoln-Way East quarterback Tommy Fuessel.
“I’ll stay more close to home there,” Harris said. “My family can watch me and I’ll have an education that will set myself for life. I’ll be set with a Northwestern degree for good after playing for the football team.”
Demes, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound tackle, plans to join Hinsdale Central linebacker Andrew Pyle at Penn after committing in September.
“I couldn’t see myself anywhere other than Penn,” Demes said.