Ezekiel Elijah Elliott (born July 22, 1995) is an American football running back for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL).
After the ninth game of the 2016 season, he became the second Cowboys rookie to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, after Tony Dorsett achieved the mark in 1977. As well, he became the third running back to rush for 1,000 yards after just the ninth game of his career, joining Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson.
Before the draft, Elliott was labeled the most complete back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson in 2007, and was predicted to be a top 10 selection. On a draft breakdown by NFL.com, he drew comparisons to Edgerrin James and was listed as a three-down back that had "rare combination of size, athleticism, pass-catching and blocking skills", and that he "should still come out of the gates as one of the most productive young running backs in the league".
Despite his athletic pedigree, Elliott attended more academically driven John Burroughs School in Ladue, Missouri, where he was a three-sport star in football, basketball, and track, and also played baseball. He played as a running back for the John Burroughs Bombers football team. As a junior in 2012, he was named the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offensive player of the year after rushing for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns and receiving 23 passes for 401 yards and six scores. In his senior year, he had 3,061 all-purpose yards and 50 total touchdowns, including 2,155 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns. He led the football team to three straight championship games, but lost all three.
As a true freshman at Ohio State University in 2013, Elliott rushed for 262 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns as a backup to starter Carlos Hyde, mostly playing as a gunner on special teams.
Considered a four-star recruit by Scout.com, Elliott was listed as the No. 9 running back in the nation in 2013. He played in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Despite overwhelming support and pressure for Elliott to sign with his parents' alma mater, the University of Missouri, he decided to sign with Ohio State University.
In 2014, with the departure of Hyde to the NFL, Elliott took over as the starter for the Buckeyes. During the season, Elliott was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Conference team. Elliott rushed over 100 yards six times during the scheduled season. In the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game against the Wisconsin Badgers, Elliott ran for 220 yards on 20 carries for two touchdowns. This win qualified Ohio State for the first-ever College Football Playoff. In the 2015 Sugar Bowl against #1 Alabama, Elliott ran for 230 yards on 20 carries in a hard-fought 42–35 win where he was named the Offensive Player of the Game. He then capped the Buckeyes' championship season by rushing for 246 yards on 36 carries and scoring four touchdowns against the Oregon Ducks. He was named the Offensive MVP of that game as well; it was the third most rushing yards ever by an Ohio State player.
Elliott finished his career at Ohio State on several leaderboards. He was second in career rushing yards with 3,961 and yards per game with 101.6 (both behind only Archie Griffin), had the second and third most rushing yards in a season, and five of the top 20 rushing yards in a game. His 43 rushing touchdowns was fourth most all time, and his 23 in 2015 was third most in a season. His twelve 100-yard rushing games in the 2015 season tied Eddie George for a school record, and the 22 he amassed over his career was again second only to Griffin (as was his streak of 15 consecutive 100-yard games from 2014–2015). He and George are the only Ohio State players with five 200-yard rushing games.
In 2015, Elliott began the season by rushing for over 100 yards in 10 straight wins, including 274 against Indiana on October 3 (the second most all-time by an Ohio State player). However, the team suffered a 14–17 loss to Michigan State on November 21, 2015, and Elliott announced that he would enter the 2016 NFL Draft. The following week, Elliott ran for 214 yards on 30 carries in a 42–13 Ohio State victory over rival Michigan in Ann Arbor, his fifth 200+ yard game. He ended his collegiate career with 149 yards and four touchdowns in a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
On August 11, 2017, the NFL suspended Elliott for the first six games of the 2017 season for violating the personal conduct policy. His suspension stemmed from accusations of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend on five occasions in 2016. NFL officials conducted a year-long investigation into the allegations, and though Elliott was never criminally charged, decided to suspend him. On August 16, Elliott announced that he would appeal the suspension. Although the suspension was upheld on September 6 by a league-appointed arbitrator, on September 8, a federal judge granted a request for injunction by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), putting the suspension on hold indefinitely.
Elliott was selected in the first round with the fourth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016. He was the first running back selected in the draft that year. He was widely regarded as an early favorite for the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year while playing behind what many agreed upon as the NFL's most dominant offensive line leading up to the 2016 NFL season.
On May 18, 2016, Elliott signed his four-year rookie contract reportedly worth $24.9 million with a $16.3 million signing bonus.
Elliott was named the Dallas Cowboys' starting running back going into the regular season, ahead of veterans Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. In his professional debut, he had 20 rushing attempts for 51 rushing yards and scored his first career touchdown on an eight-yard run against the New York Giants. The following game against the Washington Redskins, Elliott had 21 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown but also fumbled twice, losing one of them. In a Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears, he posted his first game with over a hundred yards and finished Dallas' second consecutive victory with 30 rushing attempts for 140 rushing yards. In the next game, against the San Francisco 49ers, he had 138 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. On October 9, 2016, Elliott helped his team defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 28–14 and rushed for 134 yards on 15 attempts and scored two rushing touchdowns, including a 60-yard touchdown. The next week, the Cowboys played the Green Bay Packers, and Elliott continued his four-game streak with over 100 yards after carrying the ball 28 times for 157 rushing yards.
On September 10, 2017, in Week 1 against the New York Giants on NBC Sunday Night Football, Elliott rushed for 104 yards on 24 attempts as the Cowboys won by a score of 19–3. On September 17, 2017, in Week 2, Elliott had the worst game of his career statistically in an away game against the Denver Broncos. He was held to eight rushing yards on nine carries in the 42–17 defeat.
In the first two games of his third professional season, Elliott recorded a rushing touchdown in both games against the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. In Week 3, in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, he recorded 127 rushing yards. In the following game, against the Detroit Lions, he had 152 rushing yards and four receptions for 88 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown in the victory. On October 14, 2018, Elliot ran for 106 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With his only score, he became the 12th Cowboy to reach 25 touchdowns on the ground as well as the fastest to do so, three games faster than Emmitt Smith. On November 11, Elliot scored twice, racking up 151 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. He broke 150 yards rushing for the fifth time in his career, surpassing DeMarco Murray for third-most in franchise history. The following week, he recorded 201 scrimmage yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons, his fourth game over 200, tying with DeMarco Murray and Emmitt Smith for most in franchise history. He continued his success, with 121 yards and a score on the run against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving, eclipsing 1,000 yards on the year, the second time of his career, tied for third (along with DeMarco Murray & Calvin Hill) most in Cowboys' history. In Week 13, in a narrow 13–10 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, he recorded 136 scrimmage yards and a receiving touchdown. Overall, he finished the 2018 season with 1,434 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, 77 receptions, 567 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. He won the rushing title for the second time in three seasons. The Cowboys won the NFC East and made the playoffs as the #4-seed for the NFC Playoffs. In the 2019 NFC Wild Card Round against the Seattle Seahawks, Elliott rushed 26 times for 137 yards and a touchdown in the 24–22 victory. In the Divisional Round against the Los Angeles Rams, he had 20 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown in the 30–22 loss.
On April 17, 2019, the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Elliott's contract. However, Elliot began holding out during training camp, demanding a more permanent contract extension.