Arch Manning, Eli Manning, Johnny Vaught, Peggie Gillom, Cary Middlecoff. The five names listed have been granted the right to enter immortality in the history books of Ole Miss athletics.
Add Tim Elko to the party. He's earned his legend's card following a farewell season on The Grove.
Elko is more than just a member of the Rebels' roster that won their first national title in baseball. He's the captain. The leader. The general of those rebellious Rebels that defied the odds from earlier this year.
Oh, and he's a champion. Was that mentioned yet?
Elko will leave Oxford as a three-year captain. During his span at first base, third base, designated hitter and patrolling the outfield, he posted a lifetime batting average of .294 with a .985 OPS. His 46 career home runs rank second all-time in program history. His 159 RBIs rank eighth.
One season would be enough to immortalize the legend that is Elko at Swayze Field. His 24 home runs this past year were a program single-season record. With 75 RBIs, he'll rank second in the single-season category. Elko also has hit at least .300 since the 2020 season, so there's a level of consistency.
All are valid reasons to make Elko a staple in Ole Miss history. One value stands the brightest on his resume: grit. Elko has plenty of it — so much, coach Mike Bianco would likely pay top dollar to bottle it up and recreate the 'secret stuff' from "Space Jam" for next year's roster to believe it can repeat.
Elko defines what determination is defined as in Webster's Dictionary. He didn't play much as a freshman and had to fight his way into the starting lineup a year later. There were slumps along the way at the plate. The same could be said with the glove.
A 2020 COVID-19 season took away Elko's hottest start to his career. A torn ACL in April of 2021 was supposed to end his All-American season, but as Babe Ruth told Benny 'The Jet' Rodriguez how "heroes get remembered, but legends never die," that Elko wasn't going down without a fight.
Just 25 days later, Elko was back. So were Ole Miss' title chances. He took home honors at the Oxford Regional in 2021. A year later in Coral Gables, Fla., he was the regional MVP, going 7-of-9 at the plate with three home runs and seven RBIs. In Omaha, it was a similar feel as he'd be named to the CWS' all-tournament team.
"He's like a mentor to me, the way he's just picked me up, kept me going, put my head on straight," CWS MVP Dylan DeLucia said of the Rebels' captain. "I've never seen someone like that."
One could look at the stat line and give Elko his gold jacket to enter Ole Miss' prestigious club. It's his vocal presence that sets him apart.
By May 1, the Rebels were seven games under .500 in conference play. Bianco was rumored to be fired at the end of the season. After earning the No. 1 ranking by mid-March, Ole Miss was on the verge of missing the postseason altogether.
Something snapped in Elko that day. It snapped inside the Rebels' locker room. Losing wasn't an option and he wasn't going to stand for it.
"There's so much to be said about how much we overcame this year, how much we had to fight through, how much we had to pick each other up and never let ourselves get too down," Elko said.
Ole Miss got hot. Elko warned the baseball world via Twitter on May 30 to keep the Rebels cool. He doubled down on the warning after advancing to the super regionals a week later. Ole Miss' offense averaged 7.5 runs throughout the postseason. It threw three shutout games, including back-to-back outings against Southern Miss to advance to Omaha.
While the Rebels roasted, Elko erupted. In 11 games, the senior would hit .372 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and 14 runs. Ole Miss would go 10-1 in the postseason with its lone loss coming to Arkansas.
And to think it almost didn't happen.
"I prayed after the draft last year," Elko said. "God told me that I am not done here at Ole Miss. I was like 'alright, let's do this thing then.' It was the best decision I could have made."
Ole Miss is a national champion. Elko is a legend. All the on-field accolades will strengthen his case on the Rebels' Mount Rushmore. His off the field demeanor and locker room leadership makes him a front-runner to force his way into the top four.
Bianco joked Sunday that Elko had earned a statue to be placed outside Swayze Field. Maybe one day it'll happen. Here's hoping the mustache makes an appearance.
The ever humble Elko isn't looking for that. He has his keepsake from the trip to Charles Schwab Field.
Then again, there's no "I" in team, right?
"I kind of just want one of all of us holding the national championship trophy," Elko said. "That's all I want."
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