“We were debating on just whether to take him. It came down to the 11th hour with Missouri. We were like, ‘Maybe we should just let him go’ because we had another running back in that class.”
Who knows just where Ohio State and Urban Meyer might be had the Buckeyes decided to give up their pursuit of Ezekiel Elliott in 2013. With the way Elliott performed in the first College Football Playoff, it’s easy to think the Buckeyes wouldn’t have won the national title without the running back from Missouri. Now Elliott will like be named NFL Rookie of the Year on Saturday night after being taken fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Had it not been for former Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton, Elliott might have would up at Missouri, which was where both of Ezekiel’s parents went to college. Meyer was hesitant to give his approval to the recruitment of Elliott, particularly because Meyer didn’t think Ohio State should be recruiting against Missouri. Despite already having Dontre Wilson in the fold, Drayton was able to sway Meyer into adding Elliott to the 2013 class, and the rest is history. In the end, the decision to stick with Elliott worked out for all parties involved. Not only did Ohio State win a national title, but Elliott is one of the bright young stars in the NFL. While Meyer is working on getting the Buckeyes their next title, Herman and Drayton have reunited about 200 miles away from Elliott, as they try and bring Texas back to prominence.
“I have no issue competing with whoever. I mean, to make it in the NFL, you have to compete against the best anyway. This is not where I want to stop. I want to play in the NFL, so this isn’t going to be the last time I have to compete against the best guy out there.”
Even though Tate Martell has been at Ohio State for just a few weeks, he already has big plans for his time in Columbus. While nobody is expecting Martell to unseat J.T. Barrett for the starting quarterback job in the fall, there is a bit of a logjam behind Barrett. Martell, Joe Burrow, and Dwayne Haskins will all be trying to make a name for themselves this year on the quarterback depth chart, as the trio looks to position themselves as the front-runner for Barrett’s job heading into the 2018 season.
While Martell will likely redshirt this fall, but that doesn’t mean his presence can’t light a fire under Barrett, Burrow, and Haskins. With the time he spent on the field in blowouts, Burrow looked impressive and seems like the favorite to backup Barrett. Haskins made a name for himself with the way he ran the scout team in his first year in Columbus, particularly in Fiesta Bowl as he helped the Ohio State defense prepare for Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Even though it’s likely Martell will have to wait a year to get a chance to see the field for the Buckeyes, he’ll be able to soak up everything he can this year as he prepares to make a name for himself in the future with Ohio State.
“I just try to build off of each year and each game and each experience out there on the field and take everything I did in the offseason, whether it’s rugby or fitness, and try to implement that into my game, and I’m lucky enough that I’ve been able to make the plays that have come to me, but a lot needs to be said about the guys around me that allow me to do that.”
No matter how the Super Bowl plays out on Sunday night, Nate Ebner has already had quite a whirlwind past 12 months. The former Ohio State defensive back has to be ready for a bit of a break after competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio for the U.S. rugby sevens team, and following that up by joining the Patriots immediately after. Even though Ebner has to be running on fumes by now, it is an experience he wouldn’t change at all. After the United States finished ninth in Rio, Ebner had already missed New England’s first preseason game. Many thought Ebner might have some catching up to do, but that wasn’t the case, as he was named second-team special teams All-Pro, finishing just behind teammate Matthew Slater.
Should New England beat Atlanta on Sunday night, it will be Ebner’s second Super Bowl title with New England. It is still unknown if Ebner will be able to play against the Falcons in Houston after he suffered his second concussion of the season in the AFC Championship Game. While Ebner wasn’t able to join wide receiver Bob Hayes and defensive tackle Michael Carter as players to both medal in the Olympics and win a Super Bowl in their careers, nobody can take away just how impressive his play has been not only on the rugby pitch, but also on the football field over the past year.