SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was an absolutely dominating performance against UCLA. Jonah Elliss had 3.5 sacks himself, five tackles for loss, and earned Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“It feels good,” Elliss said about the accolades. “I know that I can do it. Now I’ve just got to go out there and keep doing it. Teams are obviously all different, [offensive] tackles are all different. I’ve just got to watch the film, see how they set and attack differently. I’ve just got to give that effort every time.”
Now in his third year at Utah, Elliss has transformed himself into the new mayor of Sack Lake City, as he leads the entire nation in sacks with 5.5 in just four games.
“He’s put on about 25 pounds since he got here,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s about 245 or 250 right now. When we got him, he was 215, 220. In the weight room he’s developed himself and hasn’t lost a step. In fact, he’s probably faster than he was when he got here.”
Elliss’ dad Luther Elliss was one of the greatest defensive linemen in Utah history. Luther became a first round pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, and went on to become a 2-time Pro Bowl player. Now currently the Utes defensive line coach, Elliss has been not just a dad to Jonah, but a teacher.
“I love it,” Jonah said. “He’s really good to me. He’s always helping me with extra film and what not. It’s awesome having him down here, especially now that my family is down here. Having my family close, I love that too.”
Whittingham understands Jonah’s situation, having played for his own father, Fred Whittingham.
“Having played for my father, I know that’s a great motivator,” Whittingham said. “I think it is for Jonah as well. Especially with Luther’s expertise being the defense line and that’s where Jonah plays, they can talk football, continue to find ways to get better at home. I see it as a plus. I see it because I lived it.”
Elliss will try to keep his torrid start going Friday at Oregon State.
“Their environment in that stadium is pretty hard to play in,” he said. “I think it’s pretty similar to playing in our house. It’s loud and the fans really let them know you’re in their home. But they’re a really solid team and they’re coached really well.”
Utah and Oregon State will play Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Corvallis.