When the words "lvy League football" and "pro football prospect are used in the same sentence, you can be sure that somebody has been making waves in a big way in the college football arena.
This year Princeton senior running back Keith Elias has been doing just that. Through five games this season Elias has been tearing up defenses at a scout-attracting clip, and spitting out stats that make him the NCAA leader in yards per game (171.8 yds/game), and points per game (14.8).
"His pro football prospects are pretty good. There are scouts at all the games and even a lot of the practices," Says Mark Panus, director of Sports Information at Princeton said.
"He's been so productive that pro scouts have to come out and watch him," Princeton head football coach Ray Tosches says.
"Elias' numbers for this year put him on a pace to eclipse many of his final statistics for last year, when he ended the season as the leading rusher in Division I-AA, second in the NCAA in scoring, and fourth in the NCAA in all-purpose running.
In the Tiger's game against Lehigh last weekend, Elias chalked up his 17th passing '98 graduate Judd Garrett's Career all-purpose running record.
"The career rushing record is his most impressive record," Tosches says, "What's is amazing is that he broke Judd Garrett's record with 138 less carries."
But even if he has produced Heisman-like numbers over one-and-a half season, few consider him even an outside choice for the nation's top collegiate football honor because of his status as a division I-AA player.
"Keith has not seriously been mentioned as a Heisman candidate because he's been playing against I-AA competition. and in the lvy League which is not the best I-AA league," Panus says.
Elias may get his chance to play the field against division I-A players in a post-season all-star game.
"He really wants the opportunity to play on the next level," says Tosches.
Elias' leadership abilities have also earned him the respect of the Princeton head coach.
"His work ethic and intensity has elevated everybody's efforts around him," Tosches says.
"He's driven to win--a real team player," Panus says.
Elias' actions on the field, however, have not been the only thing that have drawn attention. Over the years the history major has cultivated a colorful image that mirrors his on-field intensity.
Hours before home games Elias pumps him self up by listening to some heavy metal music as he walks around Palmer Stadium.
In an interview with The Express-Times, Elias said, "It wasn't like the music created this madman. I went and searched out something that is as intense as I am."
"Once in a while he lies to revert to his shore background," Tosches says of the Lacey Township. N.J. Nature, who only recently cut his shoulder length hair that used to flow out from under his helmet in previous seasons. Of course, when Alias gets on the field today against Harvard, the Crimson defense will have a lot more to think about than what type of music Elias listens to or how long the All-American's hair is.
Harvard will have to think about stopping the lvy League's premier offensive weapon, and if the Crimson fails, it'll be just another day at the office for the Tiger's human bulldozer.