Yesterday, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) presented Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with their prestigious Sullivan Award, given to an outstanding amateur athlete demonstrating leadership, character and sportsmanship.
Although he was not in the running for the Heisman or even listed among the best running backs in his conference, Elliott jumped onto the country’s radar in the post-season. He was named the Offensive MVP in the semifinal and championship games, averaging 232 yards per game over a three-game stretch. Last season he rushed for 1,878 yards on 273 attempts, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and he added 220 receiving yards on 28 catches.
“Ezekiel truly epitomizes what the AAU Sullivan Award is all about—leadership and excellence both on and off the field,” said AAU President, Dr. Roger Goudy in a statement.
According to the AAU’s official press release, Elliott’s teammates praised him for putting his teammates first and crediting team support for his own successes. A marketing major, he is a two-time OSU Scholar Athlete and a 2014 Academic All-Big Ten Player with a 3.0 GPA; and he also volunteers at local hospitals, elementary schools and food pantries.
Elliott will enter his junior year this fall.
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“Of course, I have to thank my parents for pushing me to be the person that I am, demanding excellence out of me,” Elliott said at the ceremony. “I want to thank Ohio State University, my coaches and teammates for making this opportunity possible for me.”
Among other finalist athletes under consideration for this year’s Sullivan Award were Duke basketball player Jahlil Okafor, University of Akron pole vaulter Shawn Barber and gymnast Simone Biles. Elliott is the eighth football player to win the award, which has been given out since 1930. Past football honorees include Doc Blanchard, Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow.