Editor’s Note: Casa Grande High School graduate Elijah Qualls has had an outstanding collegiate football career at the University of Washington and is preparing to play in the college football playoffs against Alabama. The junior is also eligible for the NFL draft and is projected as a No. 2 pick with some scouts ranking him as potentially the second-highest rated defensive tackle in the draft. Petaluma brothers Jadon and Jaret Bosare had an opportunity to talk with Qualls before Washington played at Levi Stadium against Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game.
When the Washington Huskies went up against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Football Game this past Friday night at Levi Stadium, we, along with many others, were fully focused on the game. Elijah Qualls, one of Washington’s star defensive lineman is a local home town hero. He hails from Petaluma, graduating from Casa Grande High School, where he dominated the football field.
Now, as a junior at the University of Washington, 6-1, 321-pound defensive tackle Qualls has a strong physical appearance that threatens his opponents, while his quickness gives him an upper hand on the field. Even though he currently is a defensive lineman, he also played running back while at Casa Grande. He has a gift for pass rush moves that most offensive lineman are not prepared to handle. We met up with Elijah a few weeks ago to discuss his football career: past, present, and future.
Washington is doing well this season. The last time the Huskies were this successful was in 1992. Elijah shared that the team’s accomplishments are due to “the offense, defense, and special teams picking up our game. We have had the talent for the past couple years, but we just didn’t execute. We just had to get our rhythm together and become more of a team. It was everything. We worked on all the aspects we needed to be a national contender and it has worked.”
For Qualls, just making it to college was a major goal in his life, but now he is focused on the National Championship. Having a family and becoming a dad are things that Qualls will also want in the future, but that is no time soon. For now, he is focused on Husky football.
Qualls is listed as a top NFL draft prospect on multiple draft boards, so the NFL could be on the horizon. Playing in the NFL is something Elijah has wanted to do since he was eight years old. He told us what prepared him for football in college and the NFL was “coaches and mentors always pushing me to do more than the bare minimum. My coaches, mentors and family have always pushed me to do better because they could see me as a much bigger and better person. A lot of people have supported me every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Qualls said he wants to tell his hometown fan base that he absolutely appreciates the support. “It’s not overlooked. I feel it and it means everything to me,” he said.
His hard work and determination has helped the Huskies make it to the final four in the College Football Playoff, where they will face top-ranked Alabama on New Year’s Eve in the Georgia Dome.