LISBON FALLS – Elijah Trefts was blessed with the ideal physical stature and mental make-up to be a dominant, two-way lineman on the high school gridiron. Chances are, those tools would guarantee him a fabulous small college career, too.
But as a senior at Lisbon High School, Trefts is already wise enough to recognize that football probably isn’t going to pay his bills.
With both eyes on a career in medical research, Trefts tentatively plans to attend Northeastern University. That decision means there is a strong chance Trefts has donned a helmet and pads for the final time. Northeastern has not offered him a scholarship.
“My plan right now is to try and walk on,” the 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman said Wednesday during a break at track and field practice. “(The University of) Maine invited me to walk on, and Northeastern is at the same level in the same conference, so I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
But even those plans seem up in the air. Trefts has made only limited contact with the Northeastern coaching staff, and he said that he has not yet begun the Huskies’ prescribed off-season training program.
Trefts’ interest in Northeastern developed from a visit to the Boston campus in December and grew when he didn’t earn acceptance to his first choice, Yale.
“Yale has the largest application pool in the country, with 30,000 applications every year and only a six-percent acceptance rate,” Trefts said. “When I think about those numbers, I can’t feel too badly about not getting into Yale.”
NCAA Division III programs Bowdoin and Amherst showed the most interest in Trefts. Out of respect to those schools, Trefts said he didn’t want to give them a verbal commitment and then back out if Yale gave him an affirmative answer.
“He is a rare breed,” said Lisbon co-curricular coordinator Jeff Ramich. “Academics really do come first for him.”
Northeastern offers a biochemistry major that would put Trefts in position to achieve his eventual goal of attending medical school.
Trefts is also intrigued by a co-operative education program that allows Northeastern students to graduate in five years while working a part-time job related to a prospective profession.
“Most of the schools I was looking at (Bowdoin, Amherst and Yale) can’t offer athletic scholarships,” Trefts said. “And I would rather not end up having to pay back (thousands of) dollars in loans.”
With no guarantees on his side of the equation, Trefts’ road may end in August. He has come to terms with that possibility and says he understands that the chance of following Lisbon neighbors Jeremy Shorey (baseball) and Greg Moore (hockey) into a professional contract is remote.
“Every kid dreams of playing in the NFL. But as you get closer and closer to that dream, you realize that it’s farther and farther away,” Trefts said. “Not many people make it.”