Despite not taking the field in more than three months, Ohio State junior running back Ezekiel Elliott is still winning awards.
The offensive MVP of the 2015 national title game was awarded the 85th Amateur Athletic Union Sullivan Award on Sunday, a day after the Buckeyes’ Spring Game.
The award “honors the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States,” according to its website.
Among the finalists were NCAA basketball national champion Jahlil Okafor from Duke and three Olympic gold-medalists.
Elliott said in a press release that he was overwhelmed with the award.
“I want to congratulate all the finalists,” Elliott said. “I feel somewhat undeserving of this award with all these great athletes up here and all their tremendous accomplishments. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to win an Olympic gold medal, so I want to congratulate all for being here.
“I’ve got to thank my parents for pushing me to being the person I am. They demand excellence out of me and that drove me to be the person I am today.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer offered his congratulations to his running back in a press release after coaching the Buckeyes in the Spring Game on Saturday.
“This is a tremendous honor for Ezekiel and his family, and a privilege for Ohio State to have a Sullivan Award winner,” Meyer said. “I want to congratulate Ezekiel, and his teammates, and the coaches on the Ohio State staff who all work extremely hard to get the best out of our student-athletes on and off the field.”
Meyer has now coached two Sullivan Award winners. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the award in 2007 while Meyer was the Gators’ coach.
Elliott finished the 2014-15 season with 1,878 rushing yards and 18 scores on the ground and has sat out most of spring practice after undergoing offseason wrist surgery.
He did not participate in Saturday’s Spring Game, but is expected to return to full strength for summer workouts and fall camp.
Elliott and the Buckeyes are set to open their 2015 on the road against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va.