Three months after their title-winning season came to an end, the honors continue to roll in for Ohio State football.
Sunday afternoon, running back Ezekiel Elliott was named as the winner of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, one of the most prestigious honors in amateur sports. Elliott was one of 16 semifinalists for the 85th edition of the award, with former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota serving as the only other college football player up for the honor.
Here is the description of the award from the award itself:
Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.
Elliott is the second consecutive college football player to win the award as Penn State’s John Urschel claimed last year’s trophy. Elliott becomes the eighth college football player to claim the Sullivan, joining Urschel, joining Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011) .
Other former winners include golfing great Bobby Jones (1930, first year of the award), track legend Wilma Rudolph (1960), swimmer Mark Spitz (1971), decathlete Bruce Jenner (1976) and swimmer Michael Phelps (2003).
UPDATED 4:54 p.m. ET: Below is a quote from Elliott sent out by OSU’s sports information department.
“First and foremost I’d like to thank the AAU Sullivan Award for representing the outstanding amateur athlete for the past 85 years, and secondly I want to congratulate all the finalists. 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.
“I also want to thank Ohio State University for this and for all the opportunities it has presented me. And I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for making this opportunity possible. Football is a team sport and I’m nothing without my boys around me. Thank you!”