NCAA

Is Ezekiel Elliott on Ohio State Football’s Mount Rushmore?

Ezekiel Elliott has become one of the top running backs in the NFL. However, prior to spending his time in the Dallas Cowboys’ backfield, Elliott dominated while playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In fact, he even led them to a national championship win. So, since he has had so much success at the collegiate and pro levels, is Elliott on Ohio State football’s Mount Rushmore?

Here is a look at Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore and whether Elliott is on it or not.

Ezekiel Elliott has a strong case to be on Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore

Ezekiel Elliott had a lot of success at Ohio State and has been great for the Dallas Cowboys. Is he on Ohio State's Mount Rushmore?
Ezekiel Elliott of the Ohio State Buckeyes after a game against the Michigan Wolverines on Nov. 28, 2015. | Andrew Weber/Getty Images

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In college for the Buckeyes, Elliott was one of the best running backs in the entire country. After running for just 262 yards and two touchdowns in 2013, Elliott became a star in 2014, as he ran for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns that year. 

Elliott also had some big games when it mattered most. In the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Alabama, he ran for 230 yards and two touchdowns, leading to the Buckeyes’ 42-35 win. Then, in the National Championship game, Elliott ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon. Ohio State ultimately won 42-20 over Oregon to win the title.

The Buckeyes then didn’t win the championship in 2015, but Elliott still had an excellent season. He ran for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns.

His play in college led to the Dallas Cowboys selecting him with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Elliott then led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his first three seasons, and he led the NFL in yards per game in each of his first three seasons. He has earned three Pro Bowl selections so far in the NFL and has been a First-Team All-Pro once.

Despite all of Elliott’s college and pro success, though, he is not on Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore.

Archie Griffin, Eddie George, and Orlando Pace are on OSU’s Mount Rushmore

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There are plenty of guys like Elliott who are deserving of being on OSU’s Mount Rushmore. Guys like Troy Smith and Chris Spielman are just two of the names that are essentially honorable mention.

However, the three players on the Buckeyes’ Mount Rushmore are Archie Griffin, Eddie George, and Orlando Pace.

Griffin is the only player to ever win two Heisman Trophies. After running for 867 yards during his freshman season, and 1,577 yards during his sophomore year, Griffin continued to become a star as a junior. He ran for 1,620 yards and 12 touchdowns that year, which led to him winning his first Heisman Trophy, per the Heisman’s site. Then, during his senior season in 1975, he ran for 1,357 yards and seven touchdowns and helped lead OSU to the No. 1 ranking and an 11-0 record. This, of course, helped him win his second Heisman.

George, on the other hand, was another great running back at Ohio State to win the Heisman. After running for 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns his junior season, George ran for 1,826 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior in 1995, per the Heisman’s site. He won the Heisman that year and ultimately led Ohio State to an 11-1 record.

George also had a ton of success in the NFL. He ultimately won the 1996 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, earned four Pro Bowl selections in his career, and was a First-Team All-Pro once. George ran for 1,200 yards or more in each of his first five seasons, and he ran for 1,000 yards or more in seven of his nine NFL seasons.

In addition to the two of them is offensive lineman Orlando Pace. In his career, Pace became the first sophomore in college football history to win the Lombardi Award, and he then became the first two-time winner of the award as a junior, according to Ohio State. He ultimately did not allow one sack in either of his two final years at Ohio State, either. Pace even finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy race in 1996, which was the highest finish by a lineman since 1973.

Pace continued to play great in the pros too. He earned seven Pro Bowl selections in his career, was a First-Team All-Pro three times, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Woody Hayes is also on Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore

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In addition to the three players above, head coach Woody Hayes is also on the Buckeyes’ Mount Rushmore. Sure, he had a questionable coaching style, but he won 205 games with Ohio State, 13 Big Ten titles, and five national championships, according to CBS Sports

Hayes helped put Ohio State on the map and ultimately become the powerhouse that it is today, which is why he is on OSU’s Mount Rushmore with some of the program’s greatest players.

Ezekiel Elliott meant a lot to Ohio State winning a championship and has had a great NFL career. He does not quite make the cut for the program’s Mount Rushmore, though.

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference and Pro Football Reference