Elijah Qualls is going through warmups for the Washington Huskies, and it looks like he’s pretty close to 100 percent. That’s great news for Washington today, as they take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Though he was able to play in the game against the Washington State University Cougars—the Apple Cup—he was only on the field in a limited role. Even that was an improvement, since he’d been out for around a month after hurting his ankle. Ankle injuries do tend to linger a bit, making the timetables hard to predict. However, after extensive time off, he finally appears to be on track to play his first full game in quite some time.
Qualls had some big shoes to fill when he moved into the starting role this spring, as he was replacing Danny Shelton—who had been taken by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL Draft. Shelton was coming off of a year where he put up 53 tackles and nine sacks.
Qualls is similar in build, at 6-1 and over 300 pounds, but still had a lot of growth to do. He had only posted 13 tackles and zero sacks that year, though much of that came because he was buried on the depth chart. In 2015, despite the injuries that shortened his season and hampered his play, he has been able to put up 24 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
He’s not going to follow Shelton and become a first-round pick with numbers like that, but they would be much more impressive if he’d stayed healthy. He only played in eight games, compared to Shelton’s 14, so he’s not as far off the pace as the raw stats suggest. When he’s healthy, he can be very good, and the Huskies need that type of performance to finish out the season.