In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a dynamic offensive athlete who can impact the game in multiple ways: Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman 4-star TE Elija Lofton.
Good offenses need good players to make good plays. And, in the effort to continue to add talent to the offensive side of the ball, Miami turned their attention to a well-known school and their current star player: Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman and TE Elija Lofton.
If you’re thinking to yourself that you’ve heard the name of that school before, you’re right. Miami has recruited Bishop Gorman as well as any program in the country recently. Since 2018, Miami has signed S Bubba Bolden and QB Tate Martell as transfers, and DE Cyrus Moss and, the first player of the group, TE Brevin Jordan from the powerhouse program. Miami also recruiting several other Gorman players — such as Washington WR Rome Odunze — but they elected to go elsewhere. Regardless, Miami is among the top programs to recruit Gorman, and their continual presence introduced them to Lofton.
Early in the 2024 cycle, Miami, fresh off a top 10 class in 2023, went about the business of identifying elite prospects to add to the class. And, with their previous connection to Gorman, Miami immediately thought of Lofton.
A multi-talented player, Lofton burst onto the scene as a sophomore for Gorman in 2021. He stepped into the starting lineup at TE and caught 22 passes for 507 yards and 8 TDs for the Nevada State Champions. After that, he raised the bar higher as a junior in 2022: 30 catches for 756 yards and 11 TDs, along with 7 rushing TDs as a goal-line power RB for the Gaels as they won another State Championship.
Selected to the Under Armour All-American game, Lofton resembles former Gorman TE Brevin Jordan. Both were in the 6’2” 230lb range as recruits, and moved all over the Gorman offense, to great success. And, to take the comparison further, both wore jersey #9 for Gorman. I know Lofton is his own player, but the comparisons between he and Jordan are many.
Lofton visited Miami multiple times in the early part of 2023. And, after coming to Legends Camp in June, Lofton committed to the Canes a week later. With that out of the way, Lofton was able to focus on helping Gorman win a 4th straight State Championship. Lofton did just that, compiling 29 catches for 594 yards and 10 TDs, along with 9 more rushing TD’s as Gorman won their 4th consecutive Nevada 5A Division 1 State Championship.
On the 247sports composite, Lofton is a 4-star prospect, the #20 nationally, #1 in the State of Nevada, and #292 player overall in this class.
Lofton committed to Miami over a list of 11 scholarship offers from around the country, including Arizona State and Hawai’i to name a few.
As A Player
Like Brevin Jordan before him, Lofton is an undersized player at the Tight End position. A thick and stocky 6’2” 220lbs (he seems heavier), Lofton uses his size differently than taller, lengthier players at this position.
From an alignment standpoint, Lofton is more an H-Back; he can line up in the backfield, on the wing, or in the slot. He played out wide sometimes in HS and that could be an option in specific packages, but it’s unlike that part of his game continues in college.
Lofton shows the ability to run many of the routes on the route tree in games. All your typical TE routes — crosses, square-ins, out routes, spot routes, seam routes, etc — but Lofton also shows timing and skill in the screen game. Gorman threw Lofton several slip screens and inside TE screens over the course of the last few season. Lofton shows good acceleration and decent elusiveness for a bigger player in these situations. Lofton has decent speed, but he won’t be confused with a burner. Still, he should be able to run away from many LBs that will be covering him, and use his size/strength against DBs.
The thing that was most surprising for me was Lofton’s willingness and physicality as a blocker. Lofton does not shy away from contact at all. He engages with defenders well, has good balance, and is stronger than nearly all the HS LB’s and DB’s he tasked with blocking. Lofton will need to continue to develop strength and proficiency as a blocker in college, and Miami will need to be creative with how they use him as a blocker. Lofton likely won’t be able to block bigger EDGE players solo, but he could be good as a chip blocker, or as the move player in split zone, a la what Khalil Brantley did (exclusively) a couple years ago.
The last thing that stands out about Lofton is his effort. He’s a high-motor, always gives max effort kind of player. This can be seen with him chasing down defenders after interceptions, or following running backs down the field to keep blocking, or keeping his feet going and making multiple defenders gang up to tackle him. That insane level of effort can overcome size or skill deficiencies, and having a player with that mentality on the team can have a positive effect on the roster as a whole.
For another view of Lofton, here’s what 247sports Mountain Region Recruiting Analyst Blair Angulo had to say:
Big-bodied prospect with broad shoulders and thick lower half. Strong and powerful tight end with multi-faceted skill set. Imposing pass catcher with above average hands. Flashes good route running ability and tough to bring down in space. Shows consistent presence over middle of the field to create issues for linebackers. Willing run blocker who seals the edge well. Demonstrates technique that should make him a three-down contributor. Could continue to improve overall fluidity and out-of-stance explosiveness. Potential multi-year starter at elite Power Five level.
- Winning pedigree (4 State Championships in HS)
- Willing blocker
- Lack of height
- Strength relative to players he may be asked to block
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player a couple years ago and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
With Miami’s near total lack of production from the TE position in 2023, adding Lofton is a good start toward getting back to being Tight End U. Like Brevin Jordan before him, Lofton should be able to pair his talents with another TE on the roster — maybe someone like Riley Williams, who is a more prototypical 6’6” TE — to form a dynamic tandem at this key position.
As a freshman, Lofton should be able to find his way onto specials, with the potential to earn snaps on offense as his development (and that of the other players on the roster). Through the course of his career, Lofton should be able to carve out a big, versatile role for Miami’s offense. If he’s able to approach Brevin Jordan’s career numbers and impact at Miami, things will have gone very, very well for all parties.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.