The Eze Era is Upon Us

By Kyle Rowland on January 24, 2014 at 9:15a

It didn’t take long for Ohio State fans to put a two-game losing streak in the rearview mirror. Braxton Miller returned, Larry Johnson and Chris Ash were hired and a top-five recruiting class is weeks from being completed. An early look to 2014 indicates the Buckeyes should be in the mix for a spot in the inaugural four-team playoff.

Of course, that comes with a but. There are four new offensive linemen, linebacker remains an issue, the secondary will break in several new starters, oh, and Carlos Hyde is gone. Hyde saved his best for last, rushing for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

An effortless argument can be made that Hyde was the team’s MVP. Without him, chances are Ohio State doesn’t even get to the Big Ten Championship Game with an unblemished record. Now, it’s forced to find a replacement to complement an offense that’s not expected to let up.

The list of candidates is lengthy – Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson Warren Ball, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn – but it’s that first name, Elliott, that sticks out. Wilson has the glitz and speed, and Ball, Smith and Dunn possess a combination of power and speed; however, Elliott’s freshman season gave way to heightened expectations.

He totaled 285 yards of offense – 262 rushing – and three touchdowns. Elliott averaged nearly nine yards per carry and rushed for 162 yards on 14 attempts against Florida A&M. Recruiters tagged him with four stars and a top-50 ranking, which saddled him with high expectations and pressure. Nothing new for Division I football players, but he exceeded them in Year 1.

“I think we are all excited for the 2014 season, especially since 2013 did not end the way we would have liked,” Elliott’s mother, Dawn, told Eleven Warriors. “As far as my son starting, I’m really not sure about that. It is no secret that the Ohio State running back room is filled with talent, and there is even a new guy added to the mix [H-back Curtis Samuel]. Ezekiel just needs to stay humble, focused, and healthy. God willing, he will earn more playing time in the backfield.”

Elliott spent a bulk of the season as the second-string back behind Hyde, though he only received one carry the last five games and none in the final three. Still, that doesn’t stop the momentum Elliott conjured up during 2013.

“I just came here to compete,” Elliott said. “I didn’t come out here to get an easy ride. I know to get on the field I have to work my hardest.”

The goal entering last season was to find the field and make his talents noticeable to coaches. It definitely worked. Aside from galloping down the field, Elliott also impacted special teams with several bone-jarring hits. He recorded four tackles.

“I just came here to compete. I didn’t come out here to get an easy ride. I know to get on the field I have to work my hardest.”

One of those received national attention – a collision with a Purdue player that prompted a Boilermaker cheerleader to smile and laugh. The play was featured on Monday Night Football’s “C’mon Man” segment.

“We were ready for it,” Elliott said. “It felt pretty good.”

He added eight pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame in the couple months he was on campus prior to the season. Even his parents were taken aback by the improvements in his arms and neck.

It’s no surprise that Elliott displays an elite brand of athleticism. His father, Stacy, played football at Missouri; his mother, Dawn, ran track for the Tigers and was the Des Moines Register’s 1990 female high school athlete of the year; and his grandfather, Leon Huff, played basketball at Drake and professionally in Europe.

In high school, Elliott was a three-sport star – football, basketball and track. Coached by former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte, Elliott helped the John Burroughs High School football team to three consecutive state title games, and he won four Missouri track and field state championships as a senior. That same year, Elliott was the state’s offensive player of the year and track athlete of the year.

“Ezekiel has loved baseballs, footballs and basketballs his entire life,” Dawn said. “If he couldn’t find a ball to play with, then he would ball up some socks and throw around a ball of socks when he was three or four.”

At 13, Elliott quit baseball to try his hand – or legs – at track. He qualified for the Junior Olympics and placed eighth in the 100-meter hurdles. Dawn said his Little League coach, who instructed Elliott in football, basketball and baseball, still believes his best sport is baseball.

Elliott’s parents are just fine with how things have turned out. They admit recruiting was an overly stressful time, but now all’s well at Ohio State. Dawn even said the anxiety that accompanied the final three games of the season didn’t compare with recruiting.

As happy as Elliott was with his first season, his parents may have been more thrilled with their maiden year in Big Ten.

“The Buckeye parents are a wonderful group, and Buckeye Nation is undoubtedly the best fan base in the country,” Dawn said. “The parents have a tailgate before every game, home and away. I have a group of new friends, and a few of us actually communicate on a daily basis. Nothing can compare to the game-day atmosphere in Columbus in the fall.

“I absolutely love it.”

The adoration could grow even more if Elliott approaches Hyde’s lofty stats. The latter rushed for more than 100 yards in nine straight games, becoming the first Meyer-coached running back to eclipse 1,000 yards. Of course, Elliott’s work will be done behind a reconstructed offensive line.

“I just have to keep working,” he said.


[Kirk Irwin Photography]


Comments Show All Comments

BTBuckeye's picture

Can't wait to see this kid get more carries. Football player!

Thomas's picture

That is just a thing of beauty.

mh277907's picture

Legal hit then, still legal hit today. Just sayin, just sayin..


DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

I'm not going to lie, after this hit I was ready to move him to safety. This kid is a ball player. Simple as that. I love guys who are willing to work their tails off on special teams while they are waiting for their time to shine. Glad to call you a Buckeye EzE!

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

AAStagg's picture

Reminds me of Mo Clarett's tackle after the Miami interception in the NC game.  An elite running back making an elite defensive play when necessary.  Kid is a football player first, an elite athlete playing running back second.  He'll give us all lots of smiles these next few years.

Keep calm.  It's only a game.

2002osubuck's picture

The tackle where he stripped Sean Taylor and got the ball back was a hell of a play. Cant wait to Elliott making plays for the next few seasons.

lwitters's picture

If memory serves, this kickoff came after EzE just scored a touchdown to cap a drive featuring several impressive runs.  Then right back on the field to take someone's head off.  Have to love that. 

Ericgobucks's picture

My gut tells me that Ezekiel will start next year.  Whomever it will be will have earned it.  It's going to be quite a ride watching some of these position battles shake out. 

brband64's picture

Love Mom's comments...and am looking forward to watching the competition at RB.

"Maybe the Big Ten is not that bad. Maybe it's pretty damn good.'' ~ Urban Meyer

Liening's picture

I love what she said, too.  I wonder if she would mind if parents of players we are recruiting called her?  Would that not be great?


TheShookster's picture

Ezekiel Elliot could bodyslam Jayru Campbell

He ain't even stretch doe!!

MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

If Jayru still goes to a B1G school, it'll be nice to see Kwon and the boys get at the little punk.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Love Zeke and hes my favorite of last years class, might be my new favorite Buckeye. So much upside to this kid.
He is built for RB and to smash and burn in Meyers offense. When he starts getting the rock more he has a great nickname, EzE aka Easy E, that will catapult him to SportsCenter/announcer heavy reference. Plus he seems to have a solid family and great head on his shoulders.
Looking forward to Elliots career here.

If we get him staedily involved this year, we can ride him big time the following year when Braxton is gone and a new QB is getting his sea legs. Feed EzE!

nm_buck's picture

+1  and don't forget this kid has great hands... look for screens and wheel routes... and tons of YAC

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

InvertMyVeer's picture

EzE YAC is the best YAC, I always say...

Football is complicated...

Nutinpa's picture

I agree with this.  Then again, "screens and wheel routes" need to be added to the playbook.
Cuz they sure as hell were never called by our mensa genius when Sparty and (especially) Clemson's DLs pinned their ears back and came bull rushing.  smh.....

cinserious's picture

There once was a stud from around the way...... E-Z!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

partisan's picture

He's easily one of my new favorite buckeyes.  At the end of games, he is always front and center to sing to the student section.

buckeyepastor's picture

To me, the two-game losing streak will be in the "rearview mirror" when OSU comes out in September and consistently plays well on both sides of the ball.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

BoFuquel's picture

Don't make me go E-Z on youz. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

sharks's picture

Witha family/support system like that, this kid won't fail in the classroom or on the field.

A man got to have a code...

Mortc15's picture

I love hearing parents say things like his Mom did. Of course every parent wants their kid(s) to play every play but earning your job and continuing to work for it is great to hear, especially today when most everyone thinks they deserve everything handed to them.


DMcDougal24's picture

I read the portion about how difficult recruiting was and remembered his announcement. Worth a watch if you haven't seen it or just want reminded of how difficult the process is for these kids.

dwcbuckeye's picture

Had not seen this.  Thanks for sharing.  What a great kid. 

buckskin's picture

Had not seen this either.  You could tell how much he was struggling between OSU and Mizzou.  It almost looked like he was saying no to his mom and dad.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Stacy E.,
If youre out there reading this...
Did you plan that gray suit with the scarlet tie!?

Him1stftballl8er's picture

Class act of a person. Heart and soul. By far my favorite Buckeye. 

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

whobdis's picture

Out of all the recruits that signed in Feb last year Elliot was the one I was excited about the most..even moreso that Wilson. He's the perfect back for this offense imo. Very quick and fast. He's much bigger than what some think. He's about the same size as Dunn who many think of as the 'power back'. We may not see the 'grinding' drives we had with Hyde but I think we'll see more big plays from the running game.  I also think we'll get him the ball to him in the air more than we did with Hyde (which I think we should have done a bit more). Braxton, Eze and Wilson should be fun to watch

BuckeyeJ's picture

This will make for a very interesting spring game! Like most i was an EZ fan all the way! Him Bell and Wilson!!! 

jamesrbrown322's picture

Buckeye Nation will be impressed with this kid in every way. If Elliott is who I think he is as a player, and Wilson picks up the offense more, and improves his hands and blitz pickups to get on the field more...they could be a dangerous combination.
I truly see Elliott as a more athletic Raymont Harris. That is the closest Buckeye comparison. However, the two backs he brings to mind, more than any others, for me, are Ki-Jana Carter and Cedric Benson. Elliott will spend at least 2 season dishing out a repertoire of speed, power, and athleticism that the B1G has not seen in quite some time...

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Buckeyeneer's picture

This kid is something special. I can't wait to see what he does.

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

THE Ohio State University

Ethan's picture

Seems like an awesome kid, with a great family. Really thrilled he's a Buckeye. Rooting for him to do great things

cinserious's picture

Its so cool having Zeke's mom and dad as 'Buckeye parents'. They are truly one of us: 11W all the way.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Citrus's picture

He looked so smooth on the field last year. Like he just glided.

OSUFlash's picture

That article pretty much sums up why Meyer is high on this young man. Fantastic parents with high morals have produced an exceptional young man with a ton of talent to go along with the character you look for in a student athlete. Very respectful and mature how he conducts himself which is a parents greatest compliment.


Hovenaut's picture

I'm still looking to see Rod Smith with the hard carries, and the ball spread out (run and pass).
But I'm positive I'll be happy when EzE gets touches....nice write-up.

bassplayer7770's picture

I'm definitely looking forward to the competition at RB this year, but I would agree with many others that EzE will end up being the primary RB.  Should be fun to watch.

huber57's picture

Disappointed by the comments in this thread. Really? Just one gif? Step up your game people!
I am renewing my call to make have comment threads be gif only!
**noting, ironically, that this comment is not a .gif**

Why does Dublin have so many round-abouts? Because everyone in Dublin thinks they have the right-of-way.

zacisone's picture

Like Archie. Great athlete and an even better person! Go Bucks!


KingsRite's picture

EzE like Sunday morning should be his theme song. I can't wait to see this guy become our next premier back.

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

Earle's picture

EzE like Saturday afternoon?

Snarkies gonna snark. 

Buckeyeneer's picture

Lionel Richie approves!

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

THE Ohio State University

Earle's picture

Snarkies gonna snark. 

GoBucksOSU's picture

Anyone have a GIF of the cheerleader laughing at the Purdue player?

Hovenaut's picture

No gif, but she was impressed.....

BuckeyeStrong1993's picture

I like EzE alot kid has talent and he will be a great Buckeye. I think the RB battle in the off spring will be insane. I honestly would like to see Rod Smith step up next year the dude is a monster and has the Carlos Hyde build. Either way we will have allot of talent touching the rock next year.


ScarletNGrey01's picture

Wow, talk about great genes.  EZE's mom seems like a class act, says all the right things.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

jaxbuckeye's picture

I am of the group that Eze was one of my favorite recruits (along with Jalin, obviously).    Couldn't wait to see him play and he didn't disappoint.  Although, I am still anticipating a great season from Eze, looking for a big season from Rod Smith, too.  I look for the two of them to get the bulk of the carries along with a sprinkling of Curtis Samuel (the kid is UNREAL!).  OK, cannot forget Dontre, too.  Hopefully he never leaves the field because even if he doesn't get the ball, what an incredible decoy.
I would also like to add that EW needs to give Mrs Elliott a job (or a Columbus news station).  If we were grading responses to questions, she would get an A+++++.

bigbill992001's picture

To be honest, I wasnt all that impressed with Wilson.   After all was said and done, he had very average #s for a WR/RB/Hybrid, whatever you wanna call him.

bassplayer7770's picture

He averaged 8.1 yards per carry and 9.5 yards per reception, and most of his receptions were shorter passes.  Yes, he needs to get a little bigger and much better at blocking, but he was quite effective.  Opposing Defenses seemed to think he was dangerous or they wouldn't have targeted him when he was in the game.

Barnsey69's picture

One of the best things about OSU, especially under UFB, is that the cupboard is never bare. I cannot wait to see the battle this spring for the RB position. That being said, I don't think EZ is a slam dunk here, unless Dunn is still not getting it done (overall) in the opinion of staff. Which I find hard to believe or else he would be gone. Anyway, this site is as close as I come to being an insider, so in Urban we trust and may the best back win.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

Crumb's picture

The stable we have at running back right now is a great problem to have :)

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

stacyelliott92's picture

My friend! That day i was a buckeye! It was painful sitting there seeing my son in pain choosing a school over another school that meant so much to him! But the Urban factor was too great, When I first met Coach Urban I said to him "why did you have to come out of retirement"! "you changed the .hisltory of my family"!


Bigbutterbuckeye's picture

Were you actually not able to form sentences that day or did it just look like it? =;)

ESPN starting the SEC channel to concentrate on the SEC is like Baskin-Robbins starting a new store to concentrate on selling ice cream.

Sin City Buckeye's picture

Stacy, this is a little off topic. I have a question regarding the video you posted of Coach Coombs fantastic speech, speaking to this years recruits.
At the end of the video you were set to speak, then the video ended. Did you want to keep that out of there due to privacy, or did you think no one would have wanted to listen to what you had to say?
I'm speaking for myself and probably a lot of others, but I wanted to hear what you had to say, it left me wanting more. :-)

Is there a difference between Viper and Leo? "No, we just thought Viper sounded cooler."---Former Buckeye Coach Mike Vrabel

stacyelliott92's picture

I video taped Coach Coombs speaking.  I only have a audio of what I said to the parents and recruits.  God willing i will post that audio soon.  I came over to the football facilities to hear Coach Coombs speak and to show my support to the program.  That was a weekly ritual during the season done by me and my family. I never had any idea that I was going to be asked by Coach Meyer to bring the #juice. 


Sin City Buckeye's picture

Thanks for the response. They must think highly of you to ask you to do that!!! Love the videos you've done!!

Is there a difference between Viper and Leo? "No, we just thought Viper sounded cooler."---Former Buckeye Coach Mike Vrabel

Findog5's picture

Seems to be a great kid and a wonderful family.  That decision must have been difficult as a tiger legacy. What a bright future and what an honor to have such a quality young man representing OSU.  It's 6:00 am on Saturday, wanna bet Elliot is in the weight room right now?  

Raleigh Buckeye

PittBuckeye's picture

I want to put on 8 pounds of straight muscle, where do I sign up? So much talent at the skill positions, D-coordinators have to be terrified.

SilverBullet-98's picture

"The Past Builds the Future"