CINCINNATI — Elias Rudolph doesn't hesitate to bring his enthusiasm for the game of football every time he steps onto the field.
The Taft High School sophomore is so versatile at 6 feet 5 and 220 pounds that he plays defensive end, linebacker, tight end, wide receiver and participates on special teams.
"I've been playing since I was seven years old," Rudolph said before practice Tuesday at Stargel Stadium.
"I don't think I'm going to stop anytime soon. I just want to show the people all the work that I've put in."
Rudolph, 16, hasn't exhibited his talent just on the field. He's also earned a 3.0 grade-point average and transformed his outlook in school and the community to become a standout student-athlete.
"He has done a 360 with grades, being mature leading his team," Taft football coach Tyler Williams said.
"He is a leader on this team now and the plays he makes are unmatchable. He'll go on kickoffs, he'll go on kick return, he'll go to receiver, defensive end – whatever we need him at. And he's just outstanding with that."
Rudolph, who also plays basketball and runs track at Taft, has scholarship offers to play football from the University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Buffalo along with interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Iowa State.
"I think every school in the country at one point is going to want to see what he's doing," Taft defensive coordinator JR Allen said.
Rudolph's commitment to Taft goes beyond the field, court or track, according to Taft boys basketball coach Demarco Bradley.
"He will bring toughness to the basketball team," Bradley said. "He gets every rebound and loose ball; he does all the dirty work for us. He has a tremendous motor. He is a great student-athlete. He had a great academic year for a freshman. He talks to the middle school kids about school first, sports second."
That drive to succeed was evident last week when Rudolph had a lengthy fumble recovery for a touchdown in Taft's 13-7 win over previously undefeated Withrow Sept. 25. It was his first career high school touchdown.
"I thought the play was over," Rudolph said with a smile. "I thought one of our players had dove on the ball and I just saw the ball, I picked it up and I thought, 'I can't get caught.'"
Taft (3-2, 1-0 Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference) is difficult to catch at this moment of the season. The Senators have won three consecutive games and will play host to Western Hills (1-2, 0-1) Friday night at Stargel Stadium.
"What I like most about this team is we fight hard and we never give up," Rudolph said.
"And I like that we play for each other and we play four quarters – that's what I most like and the brotherhood that we all have."
Williams, a former Colerain and St. Xavier assistant coach, has noticed the camaraderie in his first season coaching the Senators.
He said the participation numbers have increased and the players are enjoying the experience this season.
"The kids are having a lot of fun," Williams said. "The culture is changing. The fan base is growing."
Rudolph said the coaches have brought leadership and character to the team.
"They're helping us build ourselves as men in the program," Rudolph said. "They're making us better athletes and gentlemen."
Rudolph is certainly an example of what Williams and the coaching staff want from student-athletes within the Taft football program.
Allen said he doesn't have to say much to Rudolph while coaching the defense. The instruction is more of a conversation instead of yelling.
"He always has his head down and he's working hard," Allen said. "I just love his motor and I love his enthusiasm and he loves Taft, so I just love being here with him."