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July 22, 2014

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high school football:

Arbor View’s Elijah George, a diamond in the rough on recruiting trail, already has offers from UNLV and Duke

The 6-foot-6, 248-pound offensive tackle didn’t start playing football until his freshman year, still very much a work in progress

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Arbor View lineman Elijah George works out in the weight room Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Arbor View Lineman Elijah George

Arbor View lineman Elijah George smiles during an interview Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Elijah George

Arbor View High offensive lineman Elijah George talks about the upcoming high school football season.

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Arbor View High rising senior offensive lineman Elijah George isn’t your typical college football recruit.

Sure, he has all the measurables college coaches look for in building an offensive line. The tackle is 6-foot-6, 248 pounds and still growing. And he’s quick, running a 4.93-second 40-yard dash — great for someone his size.

But George is far from a finished product.

He didn’t play organized sports upon joining the program at Arbor View during his freshman year and still is developing. During the last recruiting cycle, two local lineman — Bishop Gorman’s Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) and Cedrick Poutasi (Utah) — received multiple scholarship offers and could have handpicked a college.

George isn’t as polished as those players, but could also have double-digit suitors. He’s already been offered a scholarship by UNLV, Duke and Southern Utah, and is receiving heavy interest from other schools. That's not bad for someone who primarily joined the football team because his friends were playing.

The high school season is still four months away, but George is spending the offseason competing in recruiting showcases against other top recruits. The general consensus is he’s a star in the making.

“He is pretty raw, yet very smooth,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “He has the size and you can’t create that. He has speed, which you can coach and teach, but a lot of his is natural."

Barnson said the Duke offer caused a bit of excitement. “The excitement hasn't worn off, but he has gone back to work in the weight room and track like he is still without an offer. He plays basketball and is raw there, too. He also does track. Everything leads back to football and getting better for football."

Barnson was tempted to play George on the varsity team during his freshman year because of his size, but hesitated until George added strength to his frame and better understood the ins and outs of the Aggies’ complex double-wing rushing attack.

George has started every game the last two years, helping Arbor View to 19 wins and a pair of Sunset Regional semifinal playoff appearances. He’s twice been picked for the all-state team, leading Arbor View in 2010 to its first playoff victory in school history (the school opened in 2005) and last year paving the way for 3,757 rushing yards.

“Those (offers) mean all of my hard work is paying off. It's going to pay for me to go to college,” George said. “That’s a burden off my parents. I really didn’t want to have them pay for school.”

George never imagined joining the Arbor View team would lead to a college scholarship and is still getting comfortable with the responsibilities of being a top recruit. Tasks such as being interviewed by reporters from a university’s fan site or knowing his every move will be dissected by coaches takes a little getting used to.

“It is amazing how much more there is to learn,” George said. “I like being able to go to the all of these (recruiting) events to learn new concepts and bringing those back to my team.”

During Arbor View’s sixth-period weight training class of primary football players, there is no question which player is leading the way — the soft-spoken George. While he’s not the most vocal, he is one of the hardest working and others are quick to follow suit.

Come Friday nights in the fall, they know having George anchoring the line will help them get over the hump. Arbor View’s defeats the last two years have come to Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde — the area’s top two teams.

“Even though Elijah is big and stuff, he is really fast,” rising senior running back Donnie Gaskin said. “He’s faster than some of our (skilled players).”

George, who has attended just one college game, said his recruiting is wide open. He plans on giving hometown UNLV a long look.

“I like how they want to go further than they have been the last couple of years,” he said of UNLV. “I like that. They have a plan and they are working hard to get there.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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