At first, Joe Eldredge didn’t think anything of it.
The hit to his left leg during a tackling drill his freshman year on the junior varsity football team at Loyola Blakefield resulted in a small pop, but did not keep him from playing the rest of the season. It wasn’t until a visit to the doctor in December of 2017 that an MRI revealed that Eldredge tore the medial patellofemoral ligament in his knee and the necessary surgery was going to keep him off the field for an extended period of time.
The dislocated kneecap he sustained in April 2018 while walking out of a movie theatre with his friends only further jeopardized his playing career.
“I was upset because it took away something I was looking forward to ... my sophomore season,” Eldredge said.
But, as Eldredge is quick to point out, the temporary closing of one door simply opened up another.
Instead of sitting around waiting for his injuries to heal, Eldredge instead turned to another passion that he’s had since middle school — broadcasting. He helped broadcast basketball games in the winter and lacrosse games in the spring of his freshman year.
Then, still recovering in the fall of his sophomore year, Eldredge approached Loyola coach Anthony Zehyoue about doing the same for football games.
“A lot of guys when they get injured, they don’t know what to do with themselves ... Joe used it as an opportunity,” Zehyoue said. “I remember him asking me ‘Hey coach, would you mind if I left early and went to the sports broadcasting club meetings because I’m really interested in that?’ For me, I’m like ‘Well, he’s injured. He can’t really do anything here at practice.’ So, I don’t want to ever squash a kid’s opportunity.
"He really seemed to have gotten connected with that club and really practiced and he’s gotten to call a lot of our games.”
Fast forward to this fall, as a senior at Loyola Blakefield, Eldredge continues to find a unique way to blend his career goals with athletics. He’s a quarterback for the Dons' football team, while also serving as a member of the sports broadcasting club that calls games for the school’s website.
As an athlete, Eldredge grew up playing football, basketball and lacrosse. When it comes to his affinity for broadcasting, that really took off while attending sports broadcasting camp in Baltimore between sixth and ninth grade. He’s kept with it ever since.
“It made some good connections — being able to do it in high school," Eldredge said. "I was able to do it at a camp at Penn State [the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Broadcast Journalism Camp], which is a great experience to be able to get experience in both writing and broadcasting. I think that’s what definitely drove my interest.”
Eldredge has a number of mentors who have aided him. His best friend happens to be Vincent Cerrato, son of 105.7 The Fan’s Vinny Cerrato. Former WBAL-TV traffic reporter Sarah Caldwell is the mother of one of his other friends.
There have also been occasional conversations with fellow Loyola Blakefield alumni Jason La Canfora, who co-hosts 105.7′s Inside Access and is an NFL reporter for CBS Sports.
One of the reasons why La Canfora got into sports journalism in the first place is due to the advice that he received from a fellow Loyola Blakefield alumni.
“I think it’s awesome any time somebody is interested in something that you are interested in or they have a passion that meshes with your passion or you see a little bit of yourself in somebody else when you were their age. That’s awesome,” La Canfora said. "For it to be someone part of the Loyola community is even cooler. I can remember as a kid having Vince Bagli come in and talking to all of us at an assembly during my freshman year.
“That was really cool and I remember Vince Bagli telling us about Jim McKay and how that was his mentor. McKay is [also] a Loyola graduate."
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Currently serving as the backup quarterback to Duke-commit Jordan Moore, Eldredge says football is still a huge part of his life. And getting to play behind Moore has it’s advantages, including helping him develop new parts of his game.
“Jordan is a large threat running the ball, along with being in the pocket and my strong suit is staying in the pocket,” Eldredge said. “I’ve picked up a few things from Jordan working on mobility and throwing on the run along with different keys on picking up coverages.”
At 6-foot-5, Eldredge has the frame and the arm to catch the interest of colleges. But he’s had to get creative with his recruiting process since he has limited game film. It’s through putting together workout videos with his trainer Jon Perry that he has been able to put himself on the radar of several Division III programs.
At the moment, he has two different college lists: one for broadcast journalism and another for football. He’s looking at Penn State, Bryant and Rhode Island for specifically broadcast journalism. Susquehanna University, Widener University, Springfield College, Ithaca College and Bridgewater College are the schools that he’s looking into for football.
Since getting healthy, options have been available to potentially transfer to another local private school where there might be a more direct path to earning playing time. But Eldredge has stuck with Loyola Blakefield for what it offers him on and off the field.
“Broadcasting was definitely a big part in me staying," he said. “I had opportunities to play at other programs and start, but decided to stay because Loyola gave me the best opportunities academically.”