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Ohio State alum Ezekiel Elliott is learning how to be a better leader in the NFL

Plus, one Buckeye should make a big push in this weekend’s U.S. Open and two others will compete in the track and field junior championships.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“I think the biggest thing I accomplished is just developing more leadership skills,” Elliott said. “That’s really what I focused on coming into this year, just becoming a better vocal leader with the loss of Dez and Witt.”

-Ezekiel Elliott via Schuyler Dixon, Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl in over 20 years, and Jerry Jones isn’t getting any younger, which means that the team’s group of second- and third-year players will need to take on bigger roles in developing the future of the franchise.

The Cowboys (foolishly) decided not to re-sign veteran wideout Dez Bryant, and then after a bit of back and forth, tight end and locker room leader Jason Witten announced he was retiring. With those two offensive veterans now missing from the locker room, more of their responsibilities off the field will fall on Ezekiel Elliott.

The 2017 offseason and actual season were filled with distractions for the top-rated running back Elliott, but he’s got a new challenge this offseason — one that has nothing to do with legal woes.

There’s no questioning Zeke’s talent and ability on the field. Looking ahead at 2018, there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue setting and breaking new organization and league records — barring any suspension or injury. But whether or not the team has the kind of success this year that could carry them into and through the postseason is yet to be seen, and a lot of that will be decided by how players like Elliott and QB Dak Prescott step into leadership positions in the locker room.

“It’s a little bit tougher for me to be a vocal leader,” he said. “I like to go out there and work. I think it takes a little bit more extra effort to kind of encourage guys to come with you so it’s definitely something I have to work on.”

Elliott can now focus on nothing but football, and can really capitalize on this opportunity to take a leadership role over the running backs and offense. That sense of responsibility not only goes toward limiting off-field problems, but also creates a deeper sense of commitment to the team and teammates.

The weight of the world was on Zeke’s shoulders the second he declared for the NFL Draft in 2016, but he’s one of the few people who can probably shoulder the load so long as he keeps his head down and keeps grinding.

“Ohio State track & field freshmen Anavia Battle and Eric Harrison Jr. are set to represent the Buckeyes at the 2018 USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships...”

-Ohio State Athletics

Two Buckeyes will compete this weekend in Bloomington, Ind. where they will look to secure a spot in the IAAF World U20 Championships next month. Athletes ages 14-19 are eligible, and the top three finishers in each heat or the next two fastest times will qualify to participate in Tampere, Finland on July 10-15.

Anavia Battle will compete in the 100m and 200m dash in the women’s competition. She qualified for the events thanks to her 11.47 run at the Big Ten Championships, where Battle finished No. 4 in the field. She’s also the No. 5-seed for the 200m dash after snagging the silver medal with a 22.94 time at the B1G Championships.

Eric Harrison Jr. is the new reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year thanks to his performance this spring, and will also be competing in the 100m and 200m dash races for the men. Harrison is the No. 2 seed in the 100m event, after snagging the bronze medal at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 10.28. He’s also the top-seeded competitor in the 200m, with his first place time of 20.39 at the B1G Championships.

It’s been a great year for the Ohio State track and field team, dominating both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten events. Now that the summer season is upon us, these two Buckeyes have another shot at adding to an already impressive 2018.

“Ohio State University alumna Julianna Iafallo signed a contract to continue her hockey career with the National Women’s Hockey League’s Buffalo Beauts, the NWHL announced on Thursday.”

-Ohio State Athletics

Coming off a pretty impressive four years as a Buckeye, Julianna Iafallo didn’t miss a single game during her time in Columbus, and finished her collegiate career having played 148 games, good enough to tie for second all-time in Ohio State history.

She also recorded 64 points on 22 goals and 42 assists — not to mention finishing fourth on the team during the 2017-18 Frozen Four run where she claimed 27 points from 12 goals and 15 assists. Iafallo served as a captain her senior season, helping to lead the team to the program’s first ever NCAA Frozen Four appearance.

Iafallo will be joining a friendly face in Buffalo, with Buckeye alum Lisa Chesson also playing for the Beauts. The team is one of the best in the somewhat smaller league, having competed for the Isobel Cup in all three years of NWHL’s existence — winning the Cup in 2017 and finishing No. 2 in 2016 and 2018.

The NWHL was established in 2015, and just added their fifth team to the league earlier this year. Teams compete for the Isobel Cup, named after the daughter of Frederick Stanley —the namesake for the Stanley Cup—, Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy.

So, the opening round of the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills was a bit of a mess, with top-name golfers finishing the day over par by double digits, and a slew of bogeys filling more than one golfer’s scorecard. One of the younger competitors who is still in the thick of things after Round 2, is Ohio State amateur Will Grimmer.

Grimmer finished his opening round with a very respectable 73 (+3 on the day) thanks to three birdies and nine pars. He was tied (with Rickie Fowler, among others) for 19th at the end of the day, and was just four strokes behind the leader.

“I really like this golf course and I had a really good feeling coming into today that I could play well,” Grimmer said. “We watched quite a bit of the coverage this morning and seeing some of the best players in the world struggle as they were, I thought Holy Smokes! But I knew I had a good game plan and I really wanted to stick to it. If anything, I think it gave me the mindset to hang tough because bogeys were going to happen.”

Friday’s second round started much earlier for the Buckeye, who teed off at 8:46 a.m., but he had another solid outing, finishing +2 on the day (+5 on the tournament) with two more birdies and 12 pars.

With guys like Tiger Woods sitting at +10 heading into Saturday, Grimmer should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish so far, and get some confidence to push him through the weekend.

This woman is my new, personal hero

So, this happened today.

Ross Smith, a football player from Dayton, and his Grandma are YouTube famous thanks to hilarious videos of Granny doing weird things (like getting a lap dance) and meeting cool people (like OSU players).

The duo made their way to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Friday and spent some time posing with Chase Young and Mike Weber — and probably a bunch of others.