May 28—If ever there was a case study of a high school athlete taking advantage of his or her's lone opportunity in college, Jack Elliott might be it.
Elliott loves baseball, but that doesn't guarantee a player anything after high school.
So when Elliott was putting a bow on his baseball career at Willoughby South, there weren't many takers. Correction: There were none. At least until he attended a camp at Mercyhurst University, where his older brother Dan was a baseball player. More on that in a bit.
"I was a tiny kid growing up," said Jack.
As a freshman at South, Jack said he was a 5-foot-6, and about 125 pounds. Hitting the ball out of the park was a dream.
Jack eventually grew to 6-1, 175 and became a fine infielder for the Rebels. But for anyone to project what he was about to accomplish in college — well, Elliott probably would not have believed it himself.
"I hit one home run in high school," he said.
Recently, Elliott finished off his college career at Division II Mercyhurst at 6-1, 215 pounds. It's a career that won't be forgotten.
That's because Elliott leaves the school as the all-time leader in home runs with 35. That includes back-to-back 14-home run seasons in 2021 and 2022. In 194 games, he had 133 RBI.
O̶n̶e̶ o̶f the best home run hitter in Mercyhurst HISTORY!
Jack Elliott closes his Mercyhurst career with 35 homers which is the most in program history! pic.twitter.com/5AUnoDLsaN
— Mercyhurst Baseball (@HurstBaseball) May 18, 2022
As a sophomore in 2019, the Lakers advanced to the semifinals of the D-II College World Series, and finished 36-16. Elliott started every game that season and had five home runs and 36 RBI.
"Did just about everything except win (the CWS)," said Elliott.
All that was possible by attending a baseball camp at Mercyhurst. Had his brother not been playing at Mercyhurst, there's no telling the extent of his baseball career after high school.
His performance at that camp got him noticed by the Mercyhurst coaching staff, who extended an offer. Jack was on his way to western Pennsylvania, where he had some footsteps to follow.
Dan also had a standout career at Mercyhurst. He hit 27 career home runs — including 10 as a senior — with 174 RBI.
Jack's power surge coincided with his work in the weight room to add some bulk. It allowed him to gain 40 pounds, which he put to good use at the plate.
"As a freshman (at Mercyhurst), I had no power," said Jack. "But I got bigger and stronger and that made my swing faster and I started to get more lift."
Hits that made it to the gaps and warning tracks as doubles turned into ones that cleared the fence. He was now a bonafide power hitter, and it felt good for Elliott.
Still, Elliott's record-setting 35th home run this past spring was as low-key as it gets. He wasn't even aware of the mark when it happened. It wasn't until a freshman got his first college hit that an assistant coach shared the news.
"I was like, 'I did that?' " said Elliott, who owns a finance degree. "I had no idea, but I thought, 'That's cool.' "