There is no hotter NFL Draft prospect than former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
We spoke to the most complete running back in this year’s draft and asked him five questions.
What’s the pre-draft craziness like right now? Are you loving it, or are you hating it?
“Actually, this isn’t its peak. The peak is when I was travelling from team to team and visiting with coaches, having interviews day after day. I think that’s when it was craziest. But like right now, there’s a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement. I finally get to hear my name called! I get to figure out the city I’m going to be living in for the next four years. And I’m just ready to get back to playing ball.”
At Ohio State, you played in conference championship games, bowl games and won a national championship in 2014. How does the pressure of those games compare to the pressure of pre-draft preparation?
“I think it’s about the same. The pressure of the workouts, of the Combine, it’s about the same as a big game. But as any athlete will tell you, as any competitor will tell you, that pressure is what we live for. That’s what we want. We dreamed of finding those big-time situations. That’s what we wake up every day and go train for.”
What is something you got from playing for Urban Meyer that you could not have gotten from anyone else?
“I think Coach Meyer helped improve my competitive nature. I was always a hard worker, a competitive guy. But I think he helped enhance that once I got into college. When I first got to Ohio State, I was a very average football player, I believe. The way I started to separate myself from other guys is through how hard I worked – how hard I worked on the game, how hard I worked on the mental part of the game. That’s really when I saw myself become a great player.”
The half-shirt. The 90’s wanted me to thank you for bringing it back! Where did the half-shirt come from?
“It was just something that was more comfortable for me honestly. I liked the way it felt more. In our freshman and sophomore season, are jerseys were so long. And I didn’t like tucking in my jersey either, so I would rather tuck it up. And then it definitely became a trend, and part of my brand, really. It’s funny how popular it became with the fans and how it really became my trademark.”
Did you realize how popular the Draft was prior to actually living the experience?
“It’s crazy. They tried to warn me early on, but even just the from the level of Ohio State football, it’s nuts. The state of Ohio, they love football. Columbus is the 11th largest city in the state and it’s a football town. And being an Ohio State football player, at least locally, you’re treated almost like a professional football player, socially. I didn’t realize the influence I had, in being a successful athlete. So the Draft publicity is like an entire new level of that, on a nationwide stage. But I’ve learned to use the good in it. Something Coach Meyer always taught us, to be someone’s ‘shining light.’ So even if you’re having a bad day you’ve got to take those pictures, you’ve got to shake those hands, because you never know the type of influence you could have on someone’s day. They could be having the worst day ever and then in meeting me, that could make their day, and do a total 180.”