Our "Bucks to the Future series" rolls along with the last official commitment from signing day, RB Ezekiel Elliot from St. Louis, MO. Although Elliott was the sixth player to commit to Urban Meyer, he had 17 offers from all over the country, including Notre Dame, Georgia, and over half of the schools in the Big Ten. His home state school, Missouri, put on a full court press in the days leading up to signing day in an effort to get Elliott to stay home, but in the end, the chance to be a dual threat weapon in Meyer's offense won the day. Getting a player as versatile as Elliott was important for Meyer and what he wants to do with the offense, and Elliott is an example of Meyer's national recruiting profile, as he was the #1 player in the state of Missouri according to the Rivals 247 composite rankings, and the fifth ranked running back overall.
(Relatively Accurate) 40 yd dash: 4.40
High School: John Burroughs, St. Louis, MO
Elliott picked OSU over Notre Dame on April 1st, 2012, while on an unofficial visit. He had just spent the previous weekend in South Bend, and came close to choosing the Irish, but said after his visit to Ohio State:
"I have committed to Ohio State," Elliott stated. "It was the right school for me, both for football and academically. I fell in love on my visit. Coach (Urban) Meyer is a great man, who is going to do great things for the program, and I want to be a part of it."
Elliott's commitment came off of a 2011 junior season in which he ran for 1,800 yards, had over 400 receiving yards, and scored a stunning 42 touchdowns, vaulting him to the number one ranked player in Missouri. He lead Burroughs to the state championship game, but they lost to Logan-Rogersville 21-14.
Elliott picked up in his senior year right where he left off from his junior campaign. He rushed for 2,155 yards and scored 40 touchdowns on the ground. He added almost 400 receiving yards and four touchdowns on only 16 receptions. He also had 523 yards and another six scores on returns.
In short, Elliott's skilled enough to not just play the traditional running back role, but given what he showed both in high school and at Nike's The Opening 2012, may even be able to at times be leveraged at Meyer's coveted H-Back/Hybrid slot...I will not call it the 'Percy Harvin position'...I will not call it the 'Percy Harvin position'...I will not call it the 'Percy Harvin position'.
Once again, Burroughs made it to the Class 3 state championship, but once again they lost, this time to Maryville 35-22. But it was not because of a poor effort on Ezekiel Elliott's part. He set state records in that game, as he rushed 18 times for 218 yards with two TD's, caught five passes for 72 yards and returned four kicks for another 129 yards, including an 84-yard return for a touchdown.
In his 3 years at Burroughs, they went 40-4. Unfortunately, three of those losses were in the state championship game.
After his career concluded, Burroughs coach and former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte said of Elliott:
"He’s just a phenomenal player," Burroughs coach Gus Frerotte said following the Bombers’ 35-22 loss to Maryville in the state title game. "A great mind for the sport. He really carried our team in a lot of these games. He wanted to put us on his back, and he did that quite a few games, and he hasn’t let us down yet."
In an area that has historically produced great college running backs (Laurence Maroney and Montee Ball, among others), Elliott continues the St. Louis pipeline to the Big Ten, and Elliott might be the best one of them yet to make the jump. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, only Wisconsin alum and soon to be NFL draftee Ball scored more career touchdowns (107) than Elliott, and Ball had one of the all time great careers at Wisconsin.
And although Elliott was one of the first players to commit to the 2013 class, his recruitment involved some last minute drama. Ezekiel felt torn between the opportunity Urban Meyer's offense provided and his loyalty to his home state school, the University of Missouri. Both his mother and father are Mizzou alumni, and they both also had standout athletic careers there.
Although his parents never put any pressure on him to go to Missouri, he grew up a Missouri fan, and took the last minute visit to see if his home state school would be the right fit. On signing day, Elliott waited until late afternoon, but at a press conference at his school, he announced he would, in fact, attend Ohio State, ending any speculation that he might be a late 'flip' to Mizzou.
As mentioned above, Elliott seems like he could be a perfect fit for the H-Back position in the Ohio State offense, but right now he's slotted as a running back. He is not an early enrollee, and therefore is not participating in spring practice, so come fall practice he will initially be buried on the depth chart. But with 4.4 speed, soft hands, and a top end gear that leaves opponents in the dust, I expect him to quickly move up ad contend for playing time as a freshman.
As a running back, Carlos Hyde is a powerful between the tackles runner, but isn't known as a pass catcher. Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn showed flashes in brief amounts of playing time, but Elliott seems to be on par with them from a 'measurables' perspective to contend. He also has soft hands, and in space is exceptionally dangerous with the football. He can take a short dump pass in the flat, make a guy miss and get to his high gear in a couple steps, and he's gone. In short, exactly the type of playmaker with the football Urban Meyer covets.
That dual threat Elliott possesses, combined with the general inexperience at the H-back position means that Elliott could quickly move from running back to H-back and contend with Jordan Hall for playing time there if Hall struggles to bounce back from injury or otherwise.
There's a reason Elliott was pursued early by the Buckeyes, and they came to an area that historically they don't recruit heavily – Elliott seems like the real deal, and has all the makings of a star at Ohio State.
Highlight Jam Session:
One Of These Things Is Blatantly False:
- Ezekiel averaged over 10 yards per carry as a senior
- Burroughs coach Gus Frerotte once gave himself a concussion by head butting the goal postafter scoring a TD while with the Washington Redskins
- Ezekiel scored exactly 100 touchdowns in his high school career
- Ezekiel only scored 8 touchdowns as a sophomore in an injury shortened season