Arbor View High School student Elijah George is 6-foot-8, 270 pounds, and looks all of it.
For four years, the senior All-State defensive tackle smashed heads on the gridiron and made a name for himself in the country. He played an integral part in putting the Arbor View football team on the map.
The Aggies have gone 9-3, 9-3, 10-2, and 11-1 in the past four seasons, claiming dominance of the Northwest division. But the team was upset by archrival Centennial in the playoffs in November, ending George's prolific career at Arbor View.
Although he struck fear into the hearts of opponents, teammates and spectators alike, a look into George's personal life reveals a gentle, soft-spoken guy at heart, who simply knows how to turn it on to become a formidable player on the field.
George led the Aggies last season in sacks, notching four as an interior lineman. When he plays, he looks like a natural, breaking through defenders with relative ease. However, the game of football was foreign territory to George until his freshman year at Arbor View, where he decided to join the team because all of his friends were playing.
"I didn't really know anything about the game at that point," he said. "It had mainly just been what I had seen on TV."
George was an immediate standout at preseason camp, quickly gaining the attention of the coaches by being bumped up to junior varsity. He proved to be so dominant that he eventually found his way onto the varsity squad as a freshman, an unusual accomplishment.
"I think I was on JV for 12 seconds it seemed like," he said. "The next thing I know, I'm rocking a varsity football jersey before I'd even had my first day of high school."
Later, George would anchor the Arbor View defensive line, leading the team in sacks and tackles for multiple seasons.
"I remember thinking, 'It seems like these guys should be better. Why is this so easy?' " he said. "And I wasn't being cocky or anything. I just really didn't understand why I was so good."
Other high school coaches and teams began to notice, too, awarding him with all-conference honors, (which is voted on by coaches), as well as national recognition. He also found himself in the prestigious ESPNU 150 top recruiting program. Football has become an outlet for George, and the field has become his own personal sanctuary.
"When I'm out there on the field, everything just seems to make sense," he said. "It's a place for me to relieve a lot of the stresses of high school and to get ready for college, as well as a place for me to fight my inner demons."
George says the No. 1 reason for his success has been the people who surround him.
"I would be nowhere without the help and support of my coaches and teammates," he said. "The Arbor View football team is like one big family, and we're always there for each other, both on and off the field."
Thanks to solid grades, George is being courted by many Division I schools, including San Diego State, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, Oregon State, Navy, Duke and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"I think there's some pressure, being a Vegas kid, to stay and play for UNLV," he said. "But I've got a lot of options right now, and I'd like to explore outside of the norm a little bit."
George is confident and optimistic about his future, whatever he does.
"No matter what I do, I know I can proudly say that I'm proud to be an Arbor View Aggie, and that I have the support of the entire school with me," he said. "Nothing beats that feeling."