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Elder returns to his roots



April 13, 2010

This is the ninth and final part in a series of stories about UC's new assistant football coaches. Today: Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Mark Elder

By Bo Jessee

While Director of Strength and Conditioning Dave Lawson said the move to Cincinnati was a homecoming of sorts, it really is a homecoming for Mark Elder, UC's new running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

"My dad was a Cincinnati alumnus and with his influences I grew up a Bearcats fan," Elder said. "I had been down here a hundred times growing up and hadn't been back in over 10 years."

Elder was born and raised in Cincinnati and graduated from Sycamore High School.

"I always thought about coming back," Elder said. "But it was a difficult process because there are only a handful of opportunities that you might have and there are only a handful of opportunities within a short distance of the city, and to have it work out right here in Cincinnati was absolutely a dream come true for me."

After graduating from Case Western Reserve, Elder started his coaching career as a graduate assistant coaching defensive backs from 2000-01 at Akron.

Following one year stints at Iona and Wayne State, Elder worked as a defensive graduate assistant at Michigan in 2005 and 2006. Elder was a part of a defensive staff that guided Michigan to a No. 1 ranking against the run and a No. 10 ranking in total defense in 2006.

Elder then moved on to Central Michigan, where he hooked up with the future Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Elder coached linebackers for Jones the past three years.

After being away so long, Elder was shocked at how the campus and the football program had changed. For a Bearcats fan who remembers going to an empty Nippert Stadium to watch losing football teams, perhaps the biggest difference is the fans' support.

"Obviously the support shows and that's critical," Elder said. "It's critical for recruiting when you are going head-to-head with people. If you bring a recruit in to an empty stadium, that's not going to leave the impression that bringing them to a packed stadium with a crazy student body that we now have here will."



As the recruiting coordinator, Elder handles which areas the team recruits, which coaches are going to different areas when they go on the road, what coaches are going to be on the road and on what days, as well as structuring official visits for recruits.

With the city's strong tradition of high school football, Elder said the staff's No. 1 goal in recruiting is getting the top talent in Cincinnati to stay home.

"The bread and butter, where it all starts, is right here in the city of Cincinnati," Elder said. "We feel very strongly that if we are able to get the best players from Cincinnati, we will compete for national championships here. We think that the there is certainly enough talent here to win a national championship."

Elder said the coaching staff also has developed recruiting ties to areas like Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and Maryland.

"But those are going to be a supplement to the vast majority of our kids, which are going to be Cincinnati and Ohio kids," Elder said.