Platform, Passion, and Purpose, Helped Form the Elijah McAllister Foundation

A combination of passion and his football platform has allowed Elijah McAllister to pursue a purpose away from the field via "All 4:1 and 1 For All."

New Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Elijah McAllister is passionate about football. That passion for the sport has taken him from New Jersey to Nashville and now to the state of Alabama. The game has given him a platform, yet his passion and purpose aren’t restricted to being #11 on the Tigers’ roster.

McAllister’s passion goes beyond a box score, beyond the white line, and beyond the four walls of whichever stadium he plies his trade within. The platform afforded to him as a football player has allowed him to realize his purpose as a leader and servant with the formation of his foundation, “All 4:1 and 1 For All.”

Platform, Passion, and Purpose Helped Form the Elijah McAllister Foundation

“Nobody gets anywhere alone,” McAllister passionately proclaims as we discuss the work of The Elijah McAllister Foundation during an exclusive sit down with College Football Network. “If I can use my platform for my purpose and passion — which is helping people and serving people — then I can do that.”

College football may have put the two of us in the same virtual space, but there’s no mention of sacks or schemes. There’s no discussion of how his experience at Vanderbilt has prepared him for the demands of Jordan-Hare Stadium on SEC Saturdays.

MORE: Jacob Barnes is the Louisiana Tech Legacy Piloting his Own Journey

That doesn’t mean that McAllister isn’t passionate about his new team, his new home, or the sport that he started playing at the age of six. It simply means there’s more to the 6’6″, 265-pound defensive lineman than meets the eye. There’s more passion in his life than purely football, and the sport has allowed him to pursue those passions and channel them into a purpose.

“I think it’s important for people to continue to give back to others because nobody, in any space they’re in, has gotten to where they are without the help of someone else. I feel like if I’ve experienced something and if I have knowledge of something, if people can learn from me I think as a community — and as a world — we can better.”

The Origins of The Elijah McAllister Foundation

Named “All 4:1 and 1 For All” as a hat tip to the number 41 that he originally wore at Vanderbilt, which transitioned to the number 1 jersey that he earned as a two-time team captain for the Commodores, The Elijah McAllister Foundation began in 2022 with a football camp in his hometown of Rumson, New Jersey.

That first event allowed McAllister to utilize his platform—football—to help fuel his passion for service and helping people. The mission behind the foundation is to help develop youth from all cultural backgrounds to be the best that they can be.

While there’s an athletic element to that, there is also an academic one, as the Auburn defensive lineman merges two of his outstanding attributes to help nurture and encourage the skills and confidence in younger people to realize their full potential.

That focus on education—one of McAllister’s passions evidenced by a bachelor’s and master’s degree, with a Ph.D. being the goal from his time at Auburn—is reflected by a “Back to School Supply Drive.” The foundation has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Auburn to provide the supplies that children need to have a fair chance of succeeding academically.

“That’s important to me,” McAllister explains. “I’m a big believer in education, in life-long learning and knowledge. I vividly remember from being younger that it’s embarrassing to not have the things to be able to learn with, it’s embarrassing to not have the things like your friends do. That can allow you to shy away from learning, and I don’t want that to be the case for anybody.”

“Any time you can make kids more comfortable and them have all the adequate tools for them to be able to learn at a high level, I want to be able to provide that for them through my foundation.”

In addition to the event that kickstarted “All 4:1 and 1 For All,” McAllister has been able to establish a monthly presence at a food pantry in Asbury Park, NJ, as an important piece of giving back to the community.

MORE: Pressure Didn’t Burst Xavier McDonald, it Made the Navy Midshipman Into a Role Model

As he brings the foundation to his new home at Auburn, they’ll provide food and a loving environment for those in need in the local community with a Thanksgiving event in November.

The Elijah McAllister Foundation has established itself more quickly than its relative infancy might suggest. That’s because “All 4:1 and 1 For All” has its origins deeply rooted, even before the official beginning of the foundation in 2022.

The Elijah McAllister Foundation may have begun during his time at Vanderbilt — and has already taken hold in the Auburn community — but it’s the defensive lineman’s upbringing in Rumson as the son of Pastor Tyron McAllister that has shaped the passion and purpose ingrained within the charitable endeavor.

“I’ve always been a person that enjoys serving others,” McAllister explains. “It stems from my background growing up in a church. The church community is always something that is each person serves each other. That’s the foundation that I have, and the passion that I have, for serving others.”

Growth on religious principles underpins the mission of the Elijah McAllister Foundation. In his new home at Auburn, the defensive lineman finds a head coach in Hugh Freeze who has been steadfast and vocal about his faith during his time with the Liberty Flames football program.

It’s an influence that reinforces McAllister’s own direction both on and off the field.

“Coach Freeze does a great job of projecting his faith and not shying away from who he is as a man of God,” McAllister says. “But, he does it in a way that isn’t stepping on anyone’s toes. I admire him for that. Being able to sit down with him allows us to bounce ideas off each other and try and learn from each other. You can take a lot of pieces and things from his teachings.”

Elijah McAllister on the field during Auburn Spring Practices
Elijah McAllister on the field during Auburn Spring Practices

The Role of Leader is Important to McAllister — on and off the Football Field

Faith has become a big part of Freeze’s leadership of the football program. Few players on the Auburn roster epitomize that element of leadership more than McAllister, a two-time captain at Vanderbilt who captained both basketball and football teams at the high school level.

The Auburn defensive lineman credits a natural leadership style combined with a desire—or a choice—for how he has developed as a leader throughout his life. While that has translated to on-field success, his ability to lead men and provide clear direction has allowed McAllister to enlist the help of teammates both old and new in pursuit of his passion for giving.

“Community and serving others is something that you have to want to do otherwise it can be negative in a lot of different ways,” McAllister begins.

“But, if they see me putting in the time and doing things to serve others then I think they’re more inclined to do so because one, they know what can be done and two, they know who I am as a person, why I’m doing it, and that my heart is in the right place. Even if they don’t want to help others, they’re willing to help me, and that way they’re giving back to the community.”

McAllister’s pursuit of his passion while utilizing his platform to establish his purpose has led to national recognition. Even before “All 4:1 and 1 For All” came into existence in 2022, the then-Vanderbilt defensive lineman was named to the AllState AFCA Good Works Team—an initiative that recognizes college football athletes for their unwavering commitment to community service.

MORE: Kai Kroeger Puts the Special Into South Carolina Gamecocks Special Teams

“That was a way to not really showcase the things that I’m doing in the world,” McAllister says. “But truly, the impact that can be had from an athlete using their platform for positive. That was a unique feeling for me. It didn’t make me feel like I’d arrived or that it was a pat on the back. It allowed me to serve the community that I’m in even more, that was a blessing for me.”

Rather than treating the award as a job well done, it allowed McAllister to push on with his passion for service.

As a brand ambassador for the Good Works Team—alongside other ambassadorial roles and deals made possible by changes to Name, Image, and Likeness regulations—the Auburn defensive lineman and philanthropist was able to establish “All 4:1 and 1 For All.”

More importantly, it has allowed him to maintain the foundation and organize more events. Providing free football camps, food, books, and everything else the events provide for the local community doesn’t come cheap. While people can sponsor and donate to the foundation, McAllister explains that his platform funds the majority of the events that the foundation holds.

“Fortunately enough, the NIL space has allowed athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness. For me, I want to use that money to give back to the community. A lot of the funding is personal, because I believe in the next generation, and I believe that people need to sacrifice and give back so that the world can become a better place. I’m a frugal guy, so it doesn’t hurt me.”

Elijah McAllister on the field during Auburn Spring Practices
All 4:1 and 1 For All

McAllister Embraces the Opportunity to Make a Difference

Balancing the commitments of being a student — especially one so committed to the pursuit of academic excellence — with being a student-athlete can be tough. Throw in the added responsibility of running a foundation, and that may seem like an unmanageable workload that could break the spirit of an individual.

Unsurprisingly, that’s not how McAllister sees it.

“I want to squeeze everything out of life that I can, because I know the next day isn’t guaranteed. I know that this life and this position that I’ve been put in are a blessing. Any place I’m in, I want to take everything that I can from it and put everything I can into it. That’s how I balance that in my brain and handle that mentally. Physically, I don’t take naps in the day,” he laughs.

While McAllister jokes about “not being a napper,” it would be easy to use the rigors and demands of being a student-athlete — especially at the highest level of college football in the SEC — as an excuse to shy away from giving back, from engaging in community projects.

When you embrace those things, when you understand your purpose and it becomes your passion, the emotional rewards can far outweigh anything that you put in, any time that you give up.

“A little boy, another black male like myself and many of my teammates, we were just out playing games and teaching them different things and he screams “this is the best day of my life!” and I was taken aback because I could have easily have been at home playing video games or asleep and not here with that little boy and the kids that we were with.”

“Me making that choice,” McAllister continues, “and me having that impact on that kid was a blessing. You don’t know what that will do to him. That could shift his brain and his focus in life to listen to his parents more, maybe take school more seriously, maybe feel like he can be successful in athletics, or feel like there’s successful black men who look like him in the world.”

In a short space of time, McAllister and “All 4:1 and 1 For All” have had a significant and noticeable impact on young lives. His platform and passion have helped the Auburn defensive lineman pursue his purpose away from the football field. He knows that his football journey will only last so long, but he has a much longer—if not specific—goal in mind for the foundation.

“I want to have recurring events yearly, like the youth camp and the food drive — wherever I’m residing. As far as the long term goal, honestly, just touching as many lives as we can. That looks like so many different things, and so many ways, that I can’t pinpoint one thing right now.”

“The overarching thing is to impact as many lives as we can.”

You can find more information on The Elijah McAllister Foundation here. If you’d like to donate towards the foundation’s work with youth from all cultural backgrounds — both academically and athletically — you can do so here.