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Ezekiel Elliott '13

January 7, 2017

Ezekiel Elliott '13 was featured — twice —in the 1.07.17 St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"The Associated Press 2016 NFL All-Pro Team is showing off the new wave of pro football stars. Three rookies among 17 first-time selections highlight the team, including Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott (John Burroughs School) and Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, who is a unanimous choice as a punt returner. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, edging New England’s Tom Brady, who was suspended for four games, is another first-time All Pro. Tennessee right tackle Jack Conklin is the other rookie making the roster announced Friday. 'It’s special,' Elliott said. 'Just to be able to come into this league my first year and dominate and just play at the level I’m playing, and just kind of get these honors already as a rookie, it means a lot. I was never even All-American in college. I was never a first-team All-American. I’ll never get a Buckeye tree at Ohio State. That’s the one thing that I regret the most. Kind of seeing it come into the league and making All-Pro this rookie year, it definitely means a lot.' It’s the first time since 1981 that so many first-year players made the team. Back then, it was future Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Ronnie Lott, and 1980 Heisman-winning running back George Rogers. For the first time, the nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the NFL voted for specific positions on the offensive line, a flex player on offense, a fifth defensive back, a punt returner and a special teamer."

"Now more than ever, the NFL’s most valuable player award is the domain of the quarterback. Starting with John Elway in 1987 and working up to Cam Newton last season, there have been 23 quarterbacks named league MVP as opposed to eight running backs for The Associated Press award. (There are a couple of extra names in the mix over that period because Brett Favre and Barry Sanders shared the award in 1997, while Peyton Manning and Steve McNair did so in 2003.) Only four running backs in this century have earned MVP laurels, and all got there on the strength of monster seasons. The 2000 MVP, Marshall Faulk of the St. Louis Rams, set an NFL single-season record for touchdowns (26) that was broken by 2005 MVP Shaun Alexander of Seattle (28), then broken again by 2006 MVP LaDainian Tomlinson (31). As for 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson, he simply rushed for 2,096 yards that season for Minnesota. Which brings us to the running back from Alton, Ill., and John Burroughs School — Ezekiel Elliott. Does he have enough of a résumé to win one of the most wide-open MVP races in recent NFL history? Not only did Elliott lead the league in rushing as a rookie, he obliterated the competition. His 1,631 yards was 318 yards better than runner-up Jordan Howard of Chicago. And keep in mind, Elliott was held out of the season finale against Philadelphia and had only 12 carries — or about half his usual workload — in Game 15 against Detroit as the Cowboys rested him for their Super Bowl run. Otherwise, Elliott would’ve made a run at Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards set in 1983 with the Los Angeles Rams. That’s the kind of record that might have garnered Elliott more MVP votes. As it is, Elliott’s Dallas Cowboys teammate, quarterback Dak Prescott, may pull some MVP votes away. Some will point out that Elliott is running behind the league’s top offensive line, one that features three first-team All-Pros in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and right guard Zack Martin. The All-Pro vote, released Friday, also points to the respect Elliott has garnered in his first NFL season. He was a near-unanimous selection, garnering 47 of 50 votes at a position that includes the likes of David Johnson, DeMarco Murray, and Le’Veon Bell among others. That dominance could bode well in terms of MVP voting, but four quarterbacks figure to provide stiff competition for Elliott: Tom Brady of New England, Matt Ryan of Atlanta, Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and Derek Carr of Oakland."