The Cougars’ starting quarterback has a gift for football but his love and compassion for others is another gift altogether
Success can appear in many different forms and abilities but it is different for every single person. According to writer and journalist Malcolm Gladwell, “achievement is talent plus preparation.” This is one of the ways that can define Azusa Pacific University’s senior quarterback Andrew Elffers.
Elffers is currently in fifth place on the all-time career-passing yards list at APU with 4,084 and tied for fourth place on the all-time career-passing touchdowns list with 37.
“I think when you put in the extra work, you reap the benefits of it,” Elffers said. “Yet, I think to myself, there’s still areas that I can do more, find ways to improve as a quarterback and keep getting better.”
Elffers started playing flag football in second grade and his first year of Pop Warner Youth Football was in sixth grade.
Before college, Elffers was a three-year starter at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif.. After his sophomore year, he received letters from most of the PAC-12 schools and some of the BIG-10 schools such as Nebraska, USC and UCLA.
“Towards the end of my junior year, I received offers from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Sacramento State, Eastern Washington and Idaho…those are the main four full-ride scholarships I received,” Elffers said.
Elffers said location was not a factor in his decision, but he did have a sister who went to APU. She told him that he could build a whole separate community here, which intrigued him.
“The main reason why I chose APU is due to the Christian principles that they were going to teach here at the university,” Elffers said. “Because I knew football was going to last only so long and I wanted to choose to be apart of a community that was going to build me into a man of character and to a man of God.”
He has been a contributor to this team in some capacity after he was an academic redshirt in his first year in 2013. An academic redshirt may practice in the initial term and receive athletics aid during the initial year but may not compete, according to the NCAA.
Elffers said that he started as mostly a run game quarterback but was thrilled about that opportunity.
“Every year, I’ve always wanted to know how can I push myself to be better, how can I be a better quarterback, how can I push this team to be better, and I think as I stayed the course and as I kept pushing, then bigger responsibilities were put on me,” Elffers said.
Elffers said the list of previous players who were mentors to him included: Nick Owens, Justin McPherson, Terrell Watson, Ethan Danielson, Grant Widmer and many more. He said they all pushed each other to get better and to stay accountable.
APU’s offensive coordinator and QB coach Rudy Carlton was instrumental in recruiting Elffers to APU.
Carlton said he knew they were dealing with a mature kid when Elffers had Division I offers, but instead chose to play at APU. Carlton said he struggled at some drills when he first got to school but he had the talent and the arm strength.
Carlton is a former APU alumnus who is in his tenth year as a coach at APU and his eighth year as offensive coordinator.
“What I’ve been so impressed with him about—and it’s a testament to his work ethic—from day one he just wanted to get better with every little detail that I have ever given him,” Carlton said. “And so he came in as kind of a package guy. He’d do our red zone, short yardage quarterback run game to where now he’s developed into a complete player. I think it’s awesome and a testament to his commitment of getting better every day.”
In his sophomore year, Elffers rotated with former Cougars QB Chad Jeffries for the starting role. In his junior year, Elffers earned the starting spot over Jeffries last season.
Elffers is in his second full season of being the starting quarterback for the Cougars, playing in the competitive Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). He happens to also be the reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Last year, Elffers led APU to an undefeated conference record of 8-0, and a 9-3 overall record. He threw for 2,123 passing yards with 21 touchdowns with only three interceptions, while maintaining a 62 percent completions rating. Elffers added seven more touchdowns on the ground and ran for 353 yards.
Head coach Victor Santa Cruz said that you learn what competition is about when you watch Elffers. Santa Cruz voiced that his QB hates to lose, always wants to be the best in the weight room and that the heart of Christ is best shown by displaying what God’s people are all about.
Coach Santa Cruz is in his twelfth year as head coach for APU and has been a part of the program for 17 years.
“He is the ethos of the program. He makes up the whole ‘one blood football’ that we talk about. It’s really who he is,” Santa Cruz said about what Elffers has meant to this program. “I love the fact that he can endear himself to any of the young men on our team whether age, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, and he understands the true ethos of who were are. The rest of the team vibes off of his energy and his clarity of focus of where we as a program are going.”
Elffers loves his decision to come to the school and is glad God led him to this place.
“My favorite part for sure is the brotherhood,” Elffers said. “And we always say this during the game: ‘You want to play for the love of the brother besides you rather than the hate of the enemy in front of you.’ That is something I have taken to heart before every snap of each game.”
Elffers started at APU as an allied exercise science major after he tore his meniscus in his senior year of high school, but switched to business. Last year, Elffers graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business and is currently pursuing his master’s in business.
“In the past year and a half to two years, I have really found a passion for business and just the impact you could make either in small business or a corporation,” Elffers said. “Corporations could change society as how they do business. The influence and impact you could have to do good in a community is huge.”
Santa Cruz said he really admires Elffers’ humility and his silent strength to where he has confidence to succeed but also a growth mindset.
Elffers credits those traits to his parents and how he was raised.
“They raised me to realize that all these abilities that I have were given by the Lord and I’m just a steward of these gifts,” Elffers said. “I want to live for others way more than I’ll ever live for myself.”
During his time at APU, Elffers has been active in serving the community. He has participated with the FCA Total Athlete camps at UCLA and is currently volunteering at Sandburg Middle School, where he plays football and capture the flag and reads books to the kids.
“It’s a great time,” Elffers said. “Just the impact you can have and the moments you share with the guys on your football team and how you can serve and make a difference in the community is what the Lord calls us to do.”
Over the first six games this year, Elffers has thrown for 1,313 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 306 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Elffers has led the Cougars to a 4-2 record, which includes a three-game winning streak.