Matt Elam transformed from a powerful five-star recruit to a fizzling reserve.
Elam was used sparingly as a freshman before he was forced into a starting role as a sophomore, following Melvin Lewis’ season-ending injury. With 23 tackles in 2015, Elam appeared to be turning a corner, set up for a breakout junior season. Instead, he was absent from the stat-sheet for ten games and recorded just nine tackles, two less than his freshman total.
Even though Elam’s trajectory tends to favor the pessimist, Cole Cubelic believes Elam can still turn around his career.
“It’s pretty obvious that we’re all waiting on Matt Elam to sort of morph into what he can be. His ability is not mythical. It’s there,” the former Auburn center and SEC Network analyst told Freddie Maggard on The Depth Chart Podcast.
“It’s just, he’s gotta harness it. He’s gotta get his weight under control and find some consistency. Then he could play in the NFL for a really long time because you don’t just get guys who are 6’5″-6’6″ and over 330 pounds that can move that way.”
For some, push has to come to shove for the player to decide it’s time to change. With just a year left, Cubelic believes urgency can transform Elam into the player we thought he would be.
“If he can get in shape. He was 340 at one time last year, and that’s manageable for him. If he balloons back up to over 355-365, that’s when it gets problematic because you get two good plays and you’re done. I think he’s a guy that if he can find a way to get into shape, and a lot of times that light goes on right before the senior season or late in the career. Guys realize all of a sudden, ‘Man, I’ve only got one more year to do this.’ That’s when it comes on a lot of times. I saw it happen firsthand. So if he can come around, I think the gut on the interior of that d-line could be solid.”
Hear everything Cubelic and Freddie had to say on The Depth Chart Podcast.