With Jeremy Cordell being lured from the greater Chicago area to be Ozark's new head coach this year, he had no knowledge of the roster he inherited.
A multitude of new names and faces, nearly 100 in fact, were presented to him during a meet and greet with his new players.
Looking back on his whirlwind first week in Ozark, one player intro stood out to Cordell. During his first meeting with Tigers linebacker Parker Elliott, he picked up on a strong sense of determination and competitiveness, traits Cordell can relate to.
“He's our type of player,” Cordell said immediately when asked about his first impression of Elliott. “He’s got a very competitive spirit. I love that about him. He’s a hungry kid, a fierce competitor, just like I am.”
Likewise, Elliott recalls his first encounter with Cordell and he, too, was mightily impressed.
“He's my coach,” Elliott summed up regarding his initial feelings about Cordell. “I knew he was going to come out and do everything he can to help us achieve the goals we want to achieve.”
Cordell’s impact on Elliott is twofold. Elliott is among Ozark’s players who share a special bond with their head coach since he is also the Tigers’ linebackers coach.
With Ozark’s trip to Webb City marking the general halfway point of the Tigers’ season, Elliott’s progress on Cordell’s watch can be measured statistically in his 45 tackles, 19 solo stops, three quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and one TFL.
“He's improved my game a lot,” Elliott said. “I've made a lot of strides and I'm going to try to continue to improve.”
Cordell is confident Elliott will do what it takes to allow him to fulfill his potential.
“He's still a junior, so he's still learning the game,” Cordell said. “He’s got a great motor and has brought in. He loves what we do. He’s got a passion to get better. I enjoy coaching him.”
Elliott has been happy with his defense against the run, but would like be able do more as part of Ozark’s pass-defense.
“The D-line is making great holes for me to run through to be there to make the tackles,” Elliott sad. “You can always improve on your reads and I need to improve my blitzing. When I line up as an edge-rusher, I’d like to better at that.”
Elliott could mature into an All-COC First-Team linebacker as a senior next year, thanks to the combination of his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame, his athleticism and his passion for the game.
As Cordell inferred, Elliott’s competitiveness might be his strongest attribute.
“That stems from my personality of wanting to win,” Elliott said. “I strive to win every day. I want to win everything I do, school, life and everything.
“I care a lot about this program,” he added. “I want it to be back on track.”