Better Know A Buckeye: Ezekiel Elliott

By Vico on April 2, 2013 at 12:00p
33 Comments

Eleven Warriors presents Better Know a Buckeye 2013

Ohio State's shooty hoops campaign came to a regrettable conclusion in the regional finals in Los Angeles. That's the bad news, made worse by having watch that particular team from the Mitten State play in Atlanta in lieu of us. The good news is that the end of the basketball season highlights just how close the upcoming college football season is. In fact, the spring game is in less than two weeks.

So happy togetherEzekiel Elliott

With that in mind, the seventh installment of the fifth edition of this now 24-part series titled Better Know A Buckeye continues profiling the incoming freshman class by taking a look at Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott, an all-purpose back from St. Louis, Missouri, is arguably the most intriguing prospect in the entire class. He selected Ohio State early in the process, a year ago yesterday, in fact. Later in the process, he had second thoughts about forgoing the opportunity to play for the Missouri Tigers, the team he grew up idolizing and for which his parents played varsity athletics. After taking a visit to Columbia and thinking about it for a week, he reaffirmed his commitment on National Letter of Intent Day.

This feature "better knows" Ezekiel Elliott in the usual fashion, first recapping this recruitment and commitment phase. Thereafter, I include a breakdown of his strengths and weaknesses before projecting a redshirt, which I actually think would help both Elliott and the Ohio State football program. I also offer film and miscellaneous things of minor importance before concluding that Ezekiel Elliott is better known.

Height: 6'0
Weight: 212 lbs
Fake 40: 4.4
High School: John Burroughs School; St. Louis, MO

His Recruitment

The first phase of Ezekiel Elliott's recruitment moved pretty quickly. At the end of his junior year of football at John Burroughs School, Elliott had already put together an offer sheet that would be sufficient for making a good decision. Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska had already extended scholarship offers. It was the Illini offer that initially grabbed Elliott's attention. Growing up a Missouri fan, he was nevertheless familiar with Illinois after seeing the Tigers and Illini play in a four-year series in St. Louis between 2007 and 2010. This is in addition to a two-year series in St. Louis in 2002 and 2003. Further, Tim Beckman was a character that the Elliotts rather liked and they responded well to Tim Beckman's handwritten note to Elliott informing him of his offer.

However, everything was "even" for Elliott this early into the process, though it did mean Elliott had a very busy spring travel schedule planned. One of those trips happened to be to Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State emailed to communicate its interest in Elliott, asking him to stop by should the opportunity arise. The opportunity came in the form of a junior day event hosted by Ohio State on the weekend of February 11-12.

That weekend, Ohio State also let Elliott know he was leaving to return to St. Louis with a scholarship offer from Ohio State in tow. Elliott noted it was something of a shock to be wanted by a football program of the prestige of Ohio State, and by a head coach with the stature of Urban Meyer. Offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska are nothing to belittle, but the offer from Ohio State clearly stood out.

Elliott's task from there was to continue visiting places that had offered him or were about to offer him. He traveled to in-state Missouri to pick up an offer from Gary Pinkel. He next traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska to take in the Cornhuskers program. He next made it to Champaign-Urbana for Illinois' junior day festivities, having the opportunity to see Illinois' facilities for himself. Thereafter, he traveled to Arkansas and had good comments to offer about it. Next were trips to Iowa and Notre Dame, which again made an impression on Elliott.

However, he also planned a return trip to Ohio State on March 30-31. The impression he got there was enough to end his recruitment.

His Commitment​

On the first of April, 2012, Ezekiel Elliott solidified his place as the seventh addition to the 2013 recruiting class.

Despite the fact that he could have waited until National Letter of Intent Day (which kind of happened next) to make a decision and acquire more offers in the process, the second trip to Ohio State answered all the remaining questions for Ezekiel Elliott about Ohio State. He got to see the academic facilities, the actual university itself, and see how the players interact with the coaches in a practice setting. The recruiting pitch was too much to pass up.

Elliott left Columbus that weekend assured that Ohio State was where he wanted to be. However, he sat on the decision until Sunday before calling Urban Meyer to offer a verbal pledge. A happy Urban Meyer put Elliott on a conference call with the rest of the coaching staff so they could offer their congratulations.

Second Thoughts?​

Perhaps the most interesting development for Ohio State fans down the stretch was Ezekiel Elliott's reconsideration of Missouri down the stretch. Ohio State fans may have been curious if Elliott was getting "scared" at the prospects of adding guys like James Clark, Corey Smith, and Dontre Wilson, and what that might have been for his immediate playing time at Ohio State.

That wasn't it. Scheduling that official visit to Missouri for January 25-26, 2013 may — in the broad scheme of things — have been a way of turning the page on that chapter of his life.

Elliott reaffirming that he has "always been a Tiger" when signing with Ohio State on National Letter of Intent Day is counterintuitively true. His father, Stacy, was a defensive end/linebacker for the Tigers in the early 1990s. His mother ran track for the Tigers. Returning to Columbia was a yearly occasion, both for athletic functions and to catch up with his parents' friends. The University of Missouri was something like a socialization device for Ezekiel growing up, as well as an important means to organizing his adolescence. He was committed to Ohio State, and solid on Ohio State, but may have wanted to see Missouri for himself one last time before he started a new chapter of his life.

After all, Missouri was going to pay for the trip. It was an official visit. Whereas Ezekiel Elliott had made around seven visits to Ohio State, with only one of them being paid, and multiple visits to places like Illinois, Notre Dame, and Nebraska (all on the family's dime), there is no harm in taking up Missouri's offer.

Missouri figuratively rolled out the red carpet for Elliott's visit. You probably know some of the stories right now. When Elliott and family walked into Mizzou Arena to watch the Tigers play Vanderbilt, the fans in attendance serenaded him with cheers of "M-I-Z, E-Z-E". This is a derivation of the familiar "M-I-Z, Z-O-U" cheer.

Overall, the visit was impressive. It prompted a home visit by Stan Drayton in order to communicate the Buckeyes' continued interest in Elliott even as the program pursued other players to finish its recruiting class.

The build toward National Letter of Intent Day was too much for the family, which said Elliott would not field any more questions from recruiting services until his National Letter of Intent Day ceremony. He would choose to either uphold his commitment to Ohio State or sign with Missouri.

Sticking With His Commitment

On National Letter of Intent Day, a teary-eyed Ezekiel Elliott was joined at the table with his mom and dad to reaffirm his pledge to Ohio State. Consistent with how I interpreted that final week of Elliott's recruitment as it was unfolding, the visit to Missouri offered some closure to the lifelong Tiger as he began his journey as a future Buckeye for life.

 

Where He Excels

I remember a lot of Ohio State fans wondering if Dontre Wilson was going to scare off Ezekiel Elliott, though that misses the point. Having Elliott and Wilson is having the best of both worlds. Wilson is a wide receiver prospect, at heart, who can also carry the ball. Elliott is an all-purpose running back who can also catch the ball. Having them both in this year's recruiting class is quite the coup for Ohio State football.

Elliott is an absurdly good athlete. I'd put him as maybe the best in the recruiting class, if not for Mike Mitchell being a one-man "abusement park". At 6'0, 212 lbs, Elliott has a sturdy build, one comparable to a thicker safety. However, he runs in that desirable 4.4 range and, when playing basketball, can soar for dunks. He's as qualified in track as he is in football. He's a fascinating prospect.

Footwork is excellent. Balance is very good. He's a true specimen at the position. His ability to split to a wide receiver role and catch passes for the Buckeyes will have him stand out in a backfield that will include guys like Warren Ball, Bri'onte Dunn, and Rod Smith. He provides a unique "home run" threat as well.

Must Work On​

It's a cliche that jacks of all trades are masters of none. As such, Elliott will have some knocks about what he can do running the ball and catching it.

For one, while his footwork is very good, I think his knee lifts aren't quite what they should be. Feet are constantly moving, but never too far off the ground. Running between tackles like this leads to those arm tackles and trips near the line of scrimmage that can kill plays before they begin.

As a receiver, Elliott looks more like a body catcher than a natural hands catcher, which will limit him in some way. Then again, true hands catchers are always a rare commodity. Both this point and the previous one are fairly minor in scope.

Big question I have in regard to the quality of play at John Burroughs School. John Burroughs School is a private 7-12 middle/high school with a total enrollment around 600. Contrast that with your standard college football mill like Dublin Coffman or Wayne, which have high school enrollments over 1,300 students. This would make John Burroughs School comparable to Division V (or thereabouts) in the state of Ohio. It's the difference of having to temper the enthusiasm just a bit in watching his film.

John Burroughs School plays in a very small conference, the Metro League, which has six teams. By my count, only one other player from that league landed at a noteworthy college football program (Jack Kurzu, Oklahoma State). In short, most high school football isn't very good, but John Burroughs School's level of play is probably below even that. That doesn't mean great players can't and don't come from lower levels of football (see: Coldwater in Ohio), just that the adjustment might be tougher for a guy like Elliott than for a guy like Joey Bosa coming from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Highlights

Senior year.

Redshirt?

I know Urban Meyer has publicly prided himself on telling recruits to not even entertain the idea of redshirting. I also know Meyer was recruiting Elliott on the premise that he could play right away. Still, I think a redshirt would be advisable for Elliott.

For one, Meyer's recruiting pitch to Elliott came at a time when Meyer did not have a firm idea of what he had at running back. As far he knew, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith were foreign to him, Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn were unknown first-year commodities, and Jordan Hall had one foot out the door as a senior.

Fast forward a year, and Ohio State has an army of tailbacks that could probably launch a successful ground campaign against Portugal, or all of Iberia, for that matter. Carlos Hyde returned and is aiming to be Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard tailback. Rod Smith matured considerably as 2012 progressed, morphing from a player who forgot to attend the 2012 Gator Bowl to one of the more imposing rushing weapons we have. Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn are killing it in practice, and Ball will be a redshirt freshman. Further, Jordan Hall returned this season for a redshirt senior season. I don't think Urban Meyer anticipated any of this when recruiting Ezekiel Elliott, but it's a great unforeseen development for Meyer and the program.

Under these circumstances, I don't see Elliott doing something immediate that someone with eligibility to burn couldn't do. It might be best to save a year of eligibility for him and have him strive toward making the most of the 2014 season. Therein, Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde will be gone, and Rod Smith may or may not leave early for the NFL as well. Elliott's unique skill set would distinguish him among Ball and Dunn. The thing about having "great depth" in a given year is that it is usually all gone the next year.

The difficulty for Elliott, under these conditions, would be to stay focused amid a year of scout team duties, aware of what he promises to bring for this team in the near future.

Miscellany​

  • Father, Stacy Elliott, was a former defensive end/linebacker for Missouri. He was on the field during the infamous "Fifth Down Game" v. Colorado. He's #92 in this video.
  • Mother, Dawn Elliott, was a former track and field athlete for Missouri. Her perspective on how trying recruiting can be for families is worth reading.
  • Has two younger sisters.
  • His John Burroughs Bombers (that's the nickname) were undefeated in 2012 before losing in the Class 3 state championship game to Maryville. He did set a state record with 419 all-purpose yards in that game, though.
  • High school coach was Gus Frerotte. Yes, that Gus Frerotte. Position coach was Ray Thorpe, a former all-American baseball player and football player at Missouri.
  • His father was the one that recorded and compiled that now-famous Kerry Coombs pump-up video.
  • Texas also made a late run at Ezekiel Elliott, though their motivations weren't really clear. Texas' decision may have been influenced by the flip of Kyle Hicks from Texas to Texas Christian.
  • Alabama made a late run as well, offering Ezekiel Elliott as a defensive back. A lot of programs looked at Elliott as a possible safety, including UCLA.
  • Ezekiel Elliott represented Ohio State in the 2013 Army All-American Bowl, along with Eli Apple, Evan Lisle, and Mike Mitchell.
  • He was an AAU national champion in 400-intermediate hurdles, and finished second in the 110-meter hurdles in the 15-16 age group. As as sophomore, he won a state title in 110-hurdles (14.1) and finished second in 300-hurdles (37.85).
  • Also played on the basketball team. His senior season saw the Bombers finish 23-3. The season concluded with a loss to Maplewood-Richmond Heights in the Class 3 District 4 championship game.
  • His high school is the alma mater of Jon Hamm, who also played football for the Bombers.
  • In his junior year, Elliott had 211 carries for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 401 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He contributed 25.6 yards per punt return as well.
  • In his senior year, Elliott had 2,155 yards and 40 touchdowns on 203 carries. He also had 16 catches for 383 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

Well, I think Ezekiel Elliott is better known.

The More You Know

Let's put him on the board.

Name POS Ht Wt Hometown Committed Better Known
Cameron Burrows DB 5'11 200 Trotwood, OH 01.19.12 02.19.13
Jalin Marshall WR 5'11 196 Middletown, OH 01.30.12 02.26.13
Billy Price DT 6'4 300 Austintown, OH 02.13.12 03.05.13
Eli Apple DB 6-1 188 Voorhees, NJ 02.16.12 03.12.13
Evan Lisle OL 6-5 280 Centerville, OH 02.28.12 03.19.13
Jayme Thompson S 6-2 184 Toledo, OH 04.01.12 03.26.13
Ezekiel Elliott RB 6-0 195 St. Louis, MO 04.01.12 04.02.13

 

33 Comments

Comments

AngryWoody's picture

I now officially know more about EZE than American history. Thanks 11W!

Our Honor Defend!

DMcDougal24's picture

My favorite Buckeye. What a great family! 

osubuck57's picture

Love EZE_E but would agree to red-shirt him with all the backs we have right now.With Hyde,Smith,and Dunn,no sense in burning a year of eligibility on garbage minutes when he can be a home run hitter for us with Dunn,Campbell,and Wilson next year!!

SCOTTC.

buckeye76BHop's picture

What....he did actually commit to OSU??? ;-) I was wondering when Vico was going to make one for EzE.  Thought all that business about Twitter and his visit to Mizzu was a whole lot of hype.  Turns out it was...
Edit* As far as Eze's HS competition being weak is not a good way to determine how they will play in college.  Just look at what Mo Clarrett did when he was a freshman.  Not like the competition in Youngstown was the best at the time (like it is now, i.e. Ursuline, Fitch and Mooney etc) but he did pretty darn good in his one year on the field for OSU.  I could see EzE doing similar things that Mo did, except I don't think it will be this year.  Will he get a redshirt...IDK...depends on how well the others play and how healthy they stay (Hyde, Smith, Dunn and Ball). As far as Wilson, he'll be a Y/slot WR...not a RB.  I wouldn't even put Wilson in the backfield and if he is, then he'll surely be put in motion.  Just my opinions, but I don't think Wilson will be in the backfield.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

b_pbucksfans's picture

Youngstowns talent is head and shoulders above John Burroughs, even if they are down. Thats not even comparable IMO. I do agree that EZE is gonna be a special player here though.

osu07asu10's picture

You must not have known much about Youngstown football in the early 2000s if you are saying Fitch  (a Federal League schools mind you...) are better than the competition that Harding faced in 2001.

They lost to eventual state champs St. Iggy in the playoffs (the 14th ranked team in the nation according to USA today) largely due to poor in game decisions  by Thom McDaniels.

All NE Ohio did that year was produce the offensive player of the year (Clarett), defensive player (Kerr, St. Iggy), and coach (T. McDaniels, harding). 
10 of the 16 offensive players for the D1 All Ohio team were from NE Ohio
7 of the 16 defensive players for the D1 All Ohio team were from NE Ohio
 
I understand your point that HS competition is just one of many variables that influence a recruits ability to succeed (and early) at the college level.  Your comparison is way off base however, as NE has been and definitely was (in 2001) a region of great talent and skill.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

penult's picture

I understand the perspective on his highlight videos, given his local competition.  What about competition in the playoffs and championships?  He still put up big numbers in the postseason.  Did teams like Maryville, or whomever they played in the postseason, have more prospects?

Dougger's picture

You can PUT IT ON THE BOOOAAARDDD!!! That's what I thought of when reading that last line.
I understand why he might be redshirted, and if he does or doesn't, I hope his transition to the speed of the college game goes smoothly because he does look good and fast, but you were right about the overall product of their opponents... just not that good
Stand up guy.

I like football

Mr. Slick's picture

Love the EzE nickname.  It just rolls off the tongue.......

Squirrel Master's picture

I would say he reminds me of Brendan Bigelow from Cal but outside of that horrible game against OSU he really didn't do much throughout the season.
I think he is very elusive and that helps getting up to speed to the college game. He should be just fine!
 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

WC Buckeye's picture

He's obviously got a great chance to be a legendary Buckeye, and we're all going to enjoy watching him progress through the program.
On a side note: holy CRAP - did you see the size/caliber of his HS athletic staff?!? I think if I were on the OSU athletic staff for ANY sport, I would put a big red circle on the map for that joint!

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

Poison nuts's picture

I have a suspicion that he's going to be extremely successful during his OSU career...There are a lot of backs in the house now, so maybe there will be redshirt & maybe not, but he'll have his time, I have no doubt. Moving forward, I think it'll be tough to get another great back in the 2014 class. Parris Campbell is already on & there so many good current guys that I doubt we get another one for a while...The sell against OSU is that "you'll never see the field if you head there - look at all those RBs". In the long run though, too many good RBs is a great problem to have. Back to Zeke though, something about him...I'm claiming he'll be a Heisman race before he goes...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Hovenaut's picture

Another great BKAB.....had been eagerly awaiting EZE's write up. Really impressed with this young man since tuning in to the live webcast of his announcement - his commitment wasn't taken lightly, he obviously was torn over choosing. Good to see and hear how grounded he is.

Thanks for providing additional particulars on him, didn't realize how accomplished he is athletically. I too think he redshirts this year, and really look forward to seeing him contribute next year going forward. Believe he has a great career in Columbus ahead of him.

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

sharks's picture

Can't imagine walking down that hallway, seeing the Heismans, then getting a face full of Coach Coombs in the lockeroom.  If I was a kid, I'd commit on the spot.  If I was a parent, I'd probably sign my house over if they asked me to...

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

qaid's picture

Track, basketball and football?
Goodness gracious, now I understand the hype...he excels at everything he does! I'm excited to see him in action!!!

stacyelliott92's picture

I think if you study how Urban Meyer wants to run his offense I can't imagine Ezekiel red shirting! What Urban wants to do is have 3 to 4 hybrid players on the field at all time. The aim is to run no huddle and ware the opponent out without having to take players on and off the field because of there skills set! Think that over. The way the offense looked last year will evolve to something different if the new players come in and can step up to the college level. Ezekiel has proven to be an elite player on the national level. (Nike Opening) Because he makes things look so Eze (easy) it makes his opponent  look sorry. Trust me We would not choose OSU if we thought Ezekiel would be red shirting. I really dought he red shirts, but if he does then God knows best. PS. I spent hours with Coach Herman and Coach Drayton on this subject!

#juice

b_pbucksfans's picture

Welcome to 11W Mr. Elliott! We are proud to have your son and your family as part of Buckeye Nation!

Chief B1G Dump's picture

If this is indeed Stacy Elliott, then that is awesome!  Best of luck to y'all and here's to hoping your son lights up the B1G. 
Also, would love to hear your insight throughout Eze's time on campus. 

stacyelliott92's picture

Yes this is the real Stacy Elliott! Thank you everyone for your kind words and insight! Go Bucks

#juice

buckeyedude's picture

Wow! This is pretty kewl! Glad you found 11W, Stacey!
 

 
 

MN Buckeye's picture

Thanks for joining the best tOSU conversation, Mr. Elliott.  Here's wishing you and your son and family the best experience both in Cbus and here!  And I hope there is no RS this year for EZE, but he will have to work for everything he gets!  Is it football season yet?

Buckeyeneer's picture

Welcome, Mr. Elliott, to what I like to think of as the grown up's OSU blog. Sure we squabble sometimes, but most discussions are conducted in a respectful manner. Look forward to your insight and thoughts in the future. Again, welcome!

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

Grant Edgell's picture

Very nice work, Vico. As always.
In a former life I had the opportunity to work with Ezekiel's parents on a blog post and it turned out to be my favorite of any I had ever done. They seem like leaders of a wonderful family and I believe The Ohio State University is getting a great enrollee in 'Zeke.
Not a real fan of personally linking elsewhere from any OSU site, but here it is (Buckeye Empire)...
Link: Raising a Coveted Commodity

Vico's picture

Grant,

I actually linked to that in my feature since I found the part about Tim Beckman to be amusing.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Grant Edgell's picture

And now I go back up and see that. I typically read a whole article and then (sometimes) go backwards and click links. Didn't see that you had done so.
/facepalm

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great job Vico!  I really like reading these articles to learn more about our newest Buckeyes.  Elliot seems like he will be a great addition to the Buckeye family.  Can't wait to see him on the field!  Go Bucks!!

Buckeyejason's picture

This guy is THE REAL DEAL! Just can't see him getting carries this year with Hyde, Hall, Smith, Dunn and Ball all waiting hungry.

BUCKEYES BABY!

nickma71's picture

His high school is a private, they take class serious, high school. I live in the StL these days.

MN Buckeye's picture

Ohio State has an army of tailbacks that could probably launch a successful ground campaign against Portugal, or all of Iberia, for that matter.

I have visions of the tOSU east, the Catalonian Buckeyes!

osubuckeye4life's picture

I can't wait to see EZE suit for the tOSU!

mizdee's picture

two of ezekiel's teammates will be playing college football; one is going to yale, and the other to upenn.

Psychranger's picture

What a great kid. He brought tears to our eyes when we watched his committment. No doubt he has outstanding talent, but this young man has substance and character that's not always so "EZ" to find now days! Welcome to the family. We're proud to have you!

JB3

GoBucksToledo's picture

Sorry for joining this so late and not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but just had to say how much I am looking forward to having EzE on the field for the Scarlet and Gray.  IMHO, he will be one of our all time greats.
Its rare that a kid comes in with his talent, which he regularly proved time and again on the camp circuit against four and five stars, if not against Ohio D1 teams.  Granted, that was the camp circuit, but he still excelled in each one and I enjoyed following his progress.
He is coming in at a very exciting time for us with the talented backs we have but I think he will get his share of carries, probably earlier than expected, because he will earn them.  I know Stan Drayton and Urban are just as excited at him coming on board and about all of the athletic potential he possesses, just as much as they are for how good and smart a kid he is.