Meyer, Buckeyes Never Doubted Elliott’s Commitment
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer said there were three players he was especially nervous about heading into National Signing Day. Ezekiel Elliott was not one of them.
Forget the fact Elliott took a last-minute visit to Missouri, the same school where both of his parents where student athletes. Forget the fact his dad, Tracy Elliott, played for the Tigers in the famous “Fifth Down Game” against Colorado back in 1990, or the fact his mom ran track in Columbia.
Meyer wasn’t worried.
Even when Elliott, who had been committed to Ohio State since April, suddenly decided he wanted to do a public announcement on National Signing Day, Meyer wasn’t worried, at least not enough to make him anxious about Elliott’s 5 p.m. decision on a day where the Buckeyes landed game-changing commitments from 5-star safety Vonn Bell and 4-star wideout James Clark.
“He's been committed for a long time. He's got a great family. He's our tailback of the future,” Meyer told reporters after Elliott had officially faxed his signature to Columbus Wednesday evening.
“There's never been an issue.”
At least not for Meyer and his coaching stuff. Ohio State fans – or “nuts” as Meyer referred to some them Wednesday – with far too much time on their hands? Well that’s a different narrative from the one Meyer was following on this signing day.
“Everything was fine,” he said.
“I understand on the Internet and airwaves there were issues. There's never been an issue with Ezekiel.”
The consensus four-star prospect out of St. Louis, Mo. was tabbed as Ohio State’s running back of he future back in April, when he committed to play for Meyer and the Buckeyes. The U.S. Army All-American put up incredible numbers as a senior at John Burroughs High School.
The speedy back racked up 3,061 all-purpose yards and 50 touchdowns this past season, including 2,155 rush yards and 40 rushing touchdowns for the 13-1 Class 3 state runner-up.
He was considered a solid commitment all the way until January, when he decided to take a last minute visit to Missouri. It just so happened to coincide with Ohio State’s decision to pursue Dontre Wilson, a 4-star running back out of DeSoto, Tex.
While there was some potential confusion over why the Buckeyes would suddenly want to add another running back to the class, Meyer and Drayton were able to straighten things out with Elliott, explaining how Wilson fit into their plans.
“I see him being a potential dual threat. Hybrid, you might hear the term,” Meyer said Wednesday.
“That became kind of famous back when Percy (Harvin) started – the Percy name and all that. He's a guy that can run inside, outside, and he also had (37) catches or something, he had (750) yards receiving and he had I think 1,800 yards rushing.”
Wilson will be used in the slot as a hybrid receiver/slotback, which is the same way Meyer plans to use former Middletown quarterback Jalin Marshall. And possibly 4-star wideout James Clark, who has the ability to play in the slot or outside at receiver.
At 6-foot and 200 pounds, Elliott is more of a traditional tailback. He has elite-level speed but a bigger frame and more physical running style than guys like Wilson, Marshall and Clark. His biggest competition when he gets to Ohio State will be the group of guys already in Drayton’s running backs room.
“The fact we are ‘stacked’ is going to help us out a ton. It’s something called competition,” said Drayton, who returns a group that includes Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball and fifth-year senior Jordan Hall.
“Competition for years has made players reach their full potential as individuals. For the first time in a long time in my career, we have that environment in our running back room right now. It’s a very talented room and it’s a very competitive room. They all bring something to the table and they have to go out and earn it now.”
That includes Zeke.
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