Ezekiel Elliott never satisfied
Ohio State RB commit ready to use The Opening as his next proving ground
Ezekiel Elliott talks OSU commitment
ST. LOUIS -- When success is the topic of discussion, ESPN 300 running back Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis/John Burroughs) considers it a black hole of sorts.
Many of the nation's top prospects will battle it out at The Opening at Nike HQ.
When: July 5-8
On ESPNU: July 6-8 (8 p.m. ET)
Where: Beaverton, Ore.
Who: The Opening roster
Elliott opts to avoid a legacy
With college athletes as parents, ESPN 300 running back Ezekiel Elliott was expected by many to be a star.
At Missouri. Not necessarily at Ohio State.
His father, Stacy, and his mother, Dawn, graduated from the Columbia, Mo., campus. One was a linebacker and one was a heptathlete for Tigers. However, despite their strong ties to Mizzou, both were the strongest supporters of Elliott making his own decision.
"It wasn't really much pressure from my parents at all," Elliott said. "They were very open in the process and with me going to visit schools. They were into what was the best fit for me and not that because they went to Mizzou, I should end up there as a legacy.
"A lot of it was people outside the area asking me why I didn't pick Mizzou. With Ohio State, it's a great football atmosphere and great tradition."
Elliott said he visited 10 schools in a two-month span. The last three trips were Missouri, Notre Dame and Ohio State. There was something special about the Columbus, Ohio, visit that made him decide to not follow his parents' footsteps.
"It might have been when I got to walk in the Shoe," Elliott said, referring to Ohio Stadium and its 102,000-plus capacity. "Even with no one in there, just the atmosphere was crazy. When it's full, you know the people in Ohio really love Ohio State football."
He committed to coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes on April 1, becoming the program's sixth commit of the 2013 recruiting class. The Buckeyes now have 14 commits, but Elliott is the only running back in the class.
Elliott said his parents are happy with his choice. All they worry about is him staying on top of his game athletically and, most importantly, academically. Elliott said his support group of his parents and John Burroughs head coach -- and former NFL quarterback -- Gus Frerotte and assistant coach Ray Thorpe has been great in paving his way and keeping him focused.
"All they say is to stay on top of my schoolwork. That's the biggest thing," Elliott said. "So many people go to college and not graduate. Football doesn't last forever, so you've got to get that education.
"I think the great thing is I've got so many good people in my corner. My parents were Division I athletes. Coach Frerotte played in the pros. Coach Thorpe was an All-American at Missouri. I'm blessed to have the best support system possible."
It's a support system that doesn't even mind seeing Elliott be successful away from Columbia.
With all of the accolades the four-star athlete has on his résumé -- Ohio State commitment, Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 invite, Nike Football Training Camp running backs MVP at Champaign, Ill. -- nothing seems to be good enough to satisfy him. Even when he earned his invitation to The Opening earlier this month, it was enough to garner a smile but nowhere near enough to make him feel accomplished.
For Elliott, the uncanny state of never being satisfied fuels him unlike many other athletes. As he prepares for The Opening, which takes place July 5-8 at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., the future Buckeye will treat the prestigious training and competition event similarly to how he treats all other events he's a part of.
"It's my chance to show what I can do," Elliott said. "No one really thought I'd be recruited coming out of a small school, and I was able to prove them wrong. I've worked for everything I've gotten. Nothing's been handed to me."
His work at John Burroughs serves as proof of his ridiculous work ethic on the field. The 6-foot, 205-pound back rushed for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns and also caught 23 passes for 401 yards and six touchdowns during the 2011 season. The past two seasons, he's led his team to the Missouri Class 3 state championship game. Losing both title games eerily similar -- in the final seconds of the fourth quarter -- gives him astronomical goals for his final high school season in 2012.
Give partial credit for Elliott's competitive nature to his parents. His father, Stacy, was a linebacker for Missouri in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His mother, Dawn, was a heptathlete at Missouri.
"He's definitely a competitor," Dawn said. "He's never really satisfied with any results. You could tell that back when he was a little guy."
Elliott is just as competitive in other sports. Along with being a two-way player for the John Burroughs football team, he's a combo-guard on the basketball team, as well as a track and field standout. He won the 110-meter hurdles and placed second in the 300 hurdles at the Missouri Class 3 state meet as a sophomore. He finished second in the 110 hurdles, second in the 300 hurdles and fifth in the 100 at state this past season.
The Opening, which will have 150 of the nation's best in attendance, gives Elliott another chance to show he belongs. It gives him the opportunity to show why he had nearly offered by 20 programs, including Missouri, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arkansas and Georgia.
It also gives him a chance to show exactly why Ohio State wanted him. Opponents have come to respect Elliott for his healthy combination of speed, power and field vision. He's good enough to showcase one of those traits when necessary or combine all three to make a play.
"I like to use the whole field and take what the defense gives me," Elliott said. "I use a lot of cutbacks. I'll use some speed, I'll use some power. I'm not just one-dimensional."
Elliott defined playing at Ohio State as "a dream come true." He had a chance to visit the campus during the Buckeyes' spring game and was impressed that despite the cold, rainy weather that day, roughly 81,000 people still showed up to support the team.
Meeting coach Urban Meyer for the first time, Elliott said, was something he'll never forget.
"He is a very humble person," Elliott said. "If you were sitting in the room and hadn't seen him on TV, you wouldn't know him. He's a winning coach who's about business.
"I think the best thing is that he lets you know that his plan is to win national championships."
Elliott's long-term focus stays on winning a state title, but for four days, his short-term goal is to be the player most talked about at The Opening. Earning the running backs MVP accolade at the NFTC in Champaign over highly touted USC commit Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) was enough to make Elliott feel like he's well on his way to achieving all of his ultimate goals.
Ask him now and he'll be the first to admit he's still got a long way to go.
"He knows what he wants," Dawn said, "and he's not going to stop until he gets it."
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