Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: West Region [Print without images]

Monday, January 14, 2013
Classroom focus pays off for UW commit

By Mason Kelley

Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) was stressed.

Days before the 6-foot-1, 282-pound defensive tackle was scheduled to take his last finals before winter break, he was worried about his grades in chemistry and Spanish.

The senior stayed after school. He studied at home late into each night.

He did everything he could to ensure he got the grades he needed to be able to start his college career with Washington on time.

That stress turned to relief when he received his grades.

“Things are looking good now, as long as I keep it up, I’ll be heading up there in June,” Qualls said.

Rated the No. 117 prospect in the ESPN 300, Qualls has spent as much time on his schoolwork as he has on the field.

When asked what it felt like to see his hard work pay off in the classroom, Qualls said he was so excited it was difficult to explain what he was feeling.

“There was so much weight lifted off my shoulders, so much stress gone,” Qualls said. “I know I’ve got another semester of it but, just to know that part is over and I’m that much closer to being home, man, it made me happy.”

But, like his football career, Qualls isn’t satisfied with success. He wants even better grades in the next semester.

“It just shows that, whatever you put into something, you get back out,” he said.

Things have been working out well for Qualls recently. In addition to his success in the classroom, the four-star standout was one of the stars of the recent Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. UW was showing out in that game. We were definitely the standouts of the West team. It was great.”