The NFL has a special talent coming into the league next season in Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is the top prospect at the running back position according to both experts and general managers. He will enter the 2016 NFL season as a young, 21-year-old rookie with the most promise at the position since Adrian Peterson back in 2007.
Elliott grew up in Ladue, Missouri where he attended high school at John Burroughs School. While attending John Burroughs School, Elliot was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track. As a stud running back on the football team, he took home St. Louis Post-Dispatch offensive player of the year award his junior and senior seasons. Elliott set school records his senior year with 3,061 all-purpose yards, 40 rushing touchdowns and 50 total touchdowns. He was also named Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year in the state of Missouri his senior year.
Elliott’s athletic success at the high school level certainly translated well over to his Ohio State football career, where he instantly exploded on the scene. He showed early signs of brilliance in his freshman season as a backup to the current San Francisco 49ers starting back, Carlos Hyde. Despite not getting a lot of playing time, Elliott made the most of his limited action. He ran for 262 yards on just 30 carries, which was good for an average of 8.7 yards per carry.
After making the most of his opportunities in his freshman year at Ohio State, Elliott was the obvious choice to start at running back in 2014 for Head Coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes in his sophomore season. Elliott certainly did not disappoint in taking over the starting role.
Elliot ran loose on 273 carries, totaling 1,878 yards on the ground for 18 touchdown and propelled Ohio State to a National Championship. Elliott put himself on the map as the top running back in the nation in the final five games of 2014. To close out the regular season he guided the Buckeyes into the first ever college football playoff with big wins against Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Ohio State was then set to play in the Sugar Bowl against the No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama. Elliott could not be tamed, winning Offensive MVP of the game, dashing for 230 yards on 20 carries as No. 4 Ohio State upset Alabama 42-35. Then in the National Championship against No. 2 Oregon, Elliott proved no one could stop him. He ran the rock 36 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns, winning Offensive MVP of that game as well. Following all of his success in 2014, Elliot was the clear front-runner to take home the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
Though Elliott didn’t end up winning the 2015 Heisman Trophy, he was nothing short of spectacular in his junior season. In 2015, he carried the ball 289 times for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns. Controversy started to brew between Elliott and Meyer in the second to last regular season game. The Buckeyes lost to Big 10 rival Michigan State by the score of 17-14, ultimately ending any chance of them making the college football playoff. Elliott felt the loss was due to the lack of play calling by his head coach, and that they would have won if they had given him the ball more. Elliott only got 12 carries for 33 yards, the lone game on the season in which he failed to reach 100 rushing yards. Following the frustrating loss in a postgame press conference, Elliott made it clear he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State and take his talents to the NFL Draft in the spring of 2016.
Elliott should be a top 10 selection next week in the NFL Draft, and definitely the first one at the position taken off the board. Expect to see him as a perennial All-Star for years to come and consider yourself lucky if he comes to play for a city near you. It is unpredictable how long anyone will last at the running back position in the NFL these days due to the use and abuse they take, but as long as he is healthy, it should be all systems go for Elliott and the franchise that lands him on draft night.