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PREP FOOTBALL: John Hardin's Elam wins another award (1/13)

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By Chuck Jones

As John Hardin senior Matt Elam waits to make his college selection, the awards continue to pile up for the 6-foot-6, 360-pound defensive tackles.

Elam was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year in the state by the USA Today. He was named to the 2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Kentucky Football Team.

“That’s pretty cool,” Elam said of the latest award. “That’s a great honor. It’s surprising because I didn’t know anything about it. It shows if you work hard, you can get what you want.”

It’s not the first major honor for Elam, who won the Paul Hornung Award in December. He also was a finalist for Mr. Football, which was given to Bowling Green senior Nacarius Fant. Elam was the Area Lineman of the Year for the second consecutive year, Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team selection. He was also selected to the Associated Press and LouisvilleCourier-Journal’s first-team and the LexingtonHerald-Leader’s Class of Commonwealth, which recognizes the top 22 seniors.

Elam, one of the most sought-after recruits to come from this area, postponed his college decision. He was going to make his choice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in San Antonio, Texas, but was still torn between Kentucky and Alabama.

“The night before the game I was still going back and forth,” Elam said. “Do I pick Kentucky? Do I pick Alabama? I called Coach (Chad) Lewis and I told I don’t know what to do. I know everybody expected me and wanted me to do it, but I decided to wait a little bit.”

One reason Elam elected to wait is so he could take an official visit to Alabama, which he will do this weekend. He has been to Alabama at least three times, but his mother hasn’t seen the campus. She went with him on his official visit to Kentucky.

“The main point is I want my mom to see what I see,” Elam said. “She was able to see Kentucky, so I want her to see Alabama. I want to be able to get input to make a good decision. They’re two great programs. I don’t want to make a choice just because someone wooed me. That has stuck in my mind.”

Elam said he plans to make his choice on National Signing Day, which is Feb. 5, or possibly sooner. Assistants from Kentucky and Alabama will be at John Hardin on Thursday, when coaches are able to visit recruits again. Elam said he’s 50/50 between the two schools, and there are no new schools in the mix.

“I’ve felt a little bit (of backlash) from people wanting me to decide,” Elam said. “If I did, that would take a lot of pressure off me. I don’t want to waste more time. But it’s an important decision and I decided I could make a better decision if I waited.”

As for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, where Elam made two tackles, including one for a loss, he said it was an experience he’d never forget.

“It was a lot of fun,” Elam said. “The level of athletes was different than the level of competition in Kentucky. I can use a bull rush and get through a double or triple team. They stop you in your tracks there. The competition was just crazy. But it was a nice opportunity to see how you stack up and a great honor to be selected.”

Chuck Jones can be reached at 270-505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com.