Project players who could be European League of Football stars

While shining a light on the European League of Football’s brightest stars every week, the goal is also to create more in-depth pieces that can serve as time capsules that can be referenced in the future of the growing space of European American football.

Similar to the “Freak List” which documents players in Europe who had extreme athleticism before the start of the ELF season, scouting U19 and youth players in Europe is actually how I first started writing and scouting.

During that time players such as Gerald Ameln, Kevin Fortes, Marco Schneider, Milos Ilic, and many others who are playing in the various leagues in Europe emerged as players to watch in the future. 

This project is designed to shine the light on players with high ceilings who can become stars in “Tomorrow’s ELF”. Naturally, there will be a few cross-over athletes on these two pieces as the younger selections on the Freak List inherently have the gifts to be future stars.

Let’s dive in.

1. Destiny Idiahi – Austria – Defensive Line – Danube Dragons

Let’s get straight to the point with Idiahi as he has featured on the Freak List, but he is a Division One athlete. He’s a winner and has experienced championships in two countries at a young age and, from what has been communicated, he is a very coachable player. In this specific category, he has one of, if not, the highest ceilings and the highest floors as a player at the next level. There’s positional flexibility over the defensive line, his second step of his release is better than players in the league now, he can rush the passer (4th in AFL Sacks + 2 Forced Fumbles) and he can disrupt the run game. He has an array of hand techniques that he can use from the nose tackle to an outside end. The list goes on and on for the skills he posses. In terms of his progress, some more sharpness from the initial get-off and redirection of his hands and pad level at times would be his points of emphasis. That being said, if a team in the ELF announced that he was signed tomorrow it wouldn’t be surprising.

2. Lucas Harting Candido – Germany – Running Back – Hamburg Sea Devils

Coming into the 2023 ELF season, LHC was a Rookie of the Year candidate, and there is still time for that to happen although it is rather unlikely as he is only seeing occasional game time. That being said, with this being his first pro season in Europe and him scoring his first pro touchdown just this last weekend, the sky is the limit. He has the perfect frame for a running back at 6’0 195 pounds and brings big play ability potential on all of his touches. He’s able to go through the middle of the field or the outside and it doesn’t affect his twitchiness or explosive potential. This is what makes him a great running option for anywhere on the field for many situational instances. For him to show he can be a 3-Down-Back starter quality player he needs to diversify his skill set to encompass a more balanced ability. This includes his value out of the backfield and in pass protection. He has the advantage now of being around a talented offensive line and other weapons on offense that can, hopefully, allow him to build on his base. He is only 20 years old so he has the time if the team continues to believe in his development.

Vysočina Gladiators

3. Jakub Čižek – Czechia – Defensive Back – Vysočina Gladiators

If Jakub was in Florida, Georgia, or Ohio he would have D1 scouts ready to line up to every game he had. A 6’2 200 pound zone specialist safety/corner who plays aggressively and isn’t afraid to tackle in the box. Given that the Czech season is ending, the Prague Lions are expected to be hot on his recruitment. He does need development in his speed and man coverage, as well as his general experience as playing in the Czech league. Without both the Prague teams competing in the league, he hasn’t seen many elite receiver threats, but as raw safety potential goes, there are very few players that can compare. There is some suggestion that he will be moved to an OLB or nickleback position in the future. Personally, I would say that safety would see him reach his peak as an athlete. His coverage is too good to not utilize. Only time will tell.

4. Joe Cassidy – United Kingdom – Safety – Dresden Monarchs

Joe certainly has the experience for the ELF and is another player who will be getting calls at the end of the GFL season. From Filton Pride, Great Britain at Senior & U19 levels and time at Dickinson College in the States, he has excelled as a Strong/Box Safety. Now at the Dresden Monarchs, alongside many other potential young stars, he is second in team tackles, the only player with an INT and 4th for TFLs. He’s outperforming players who have been in the league for years and this is only his rookie year. Increasing his range as a safety is imperative for him stepping into a role for an ELF team. Being able to be more fluid in his hips and serving as a free safety as well would go a long way in his signing. A team isn’t necessarily going to want to sign a player without positional flexibility within their positional group. This writer has no doubts about his physicality, explosiveness in the box and tackling any position on the field on defense or special teams. He will be signed at some point in the next season or so.

Photo: Jari Turunen

5. Nico Barrow – Finland – Running back – Dresden Monarchs

Am I allowed to have two players on the same team and two players I’ve had on the Freak List? Yes. Barrow is the starting back for the Monarchs and is the offensive side of the nucleus of youth talent that they have built this season. Like his Finnish countryma, Karri Pajarinen, he has been on the radar for a while and with those two in the ELF in the future it could be a strong case for a Finland expansion. He is the closest we have to Glen Toonga in the newest generation of the position. He has a big frame, blocking ability, one-cut ability, and physicality when it’s needed. In three games, he has 30 carries (20th) and 186 yards (12th) for 62 yards a game (8th) and 6.2 Yards per carry (4th). These stats paint a picture of overperformance based on the opportunities he has been presented with. He has fumbled once this season and we will see if that’s a recurring problem, but looking at additional needs, increasing his top speed and acceleration would be the priority.

Honorable Mentions

It’s incredibly exciting to see where this generation of players will continue their football careers in the coming seasons. With a variety of countries, we could very well see all of them in the same league at some point, as for some honorable mentions whom I’m a fan of I have a number but for today there are a few quick names. Marc Jackson, brother of Cologne pass rusher Jai Jackson, is an athletic linebacker from Nottingham. On the reverse of that rivalry, Ange-Michel Malan has the physical gifts to be a threat at DE when he is more developed. Feodor Chepyzhov, the Austrian/Hungarian wide receiver could be in the league tomorrow and he would be able to perform at a decent level so he’s been left off this list as he still is in development. Valentin Bader is another talented Austrian League player who needs experience and coaching before he can carve out a role.