Drew Rodriguez

Ezekiel Elliott named winner of prestigious Sullivan Award

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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)

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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!”

Ezekiel Elliott, Marcus Mariota semifinalists for Sullivan Award

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One current and one former college football player are in the running to take home one of the most prestigious awards in amateur sports.

Monday morning, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award announced the semifinalists for the 85th edition of the honor.  Among those 16 semifinalists are two college football players: Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Elliott’s Buckeyes, of course, handled Mariota’s Ducks in the championship game of the College Football Playoff, with the running back taking home MVP honors to put the finishing touches on a historic run.  Mariota had won the 2014 Heisman Trophy a month earlier.

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.

Both Elliott and Mariota will be looking to enter select company.

Last year’s winner of the Sullivan Award was Penn State’s John Urschel.  The Nittany Lion offensive lineman became just the seventh college football player to stake his claim to the iconic honor, 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)

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This year’s field of 16 semifinalists will be pared to six finalists prior to the award being handed out April 19. Fans can vote for their favorite semifinalist once a day through March 15 by clicking on the link right HERE.  Below, you’ll find the complete list of semifinalists for the 85th annual Sullivan Award:

  • Pole vaulter Shawn Barber
  • Gymnast Simone Biles
  • Ice dancers Meryl Davis & Charlie White
  • Ohio State football player Ezekiel Elliott
  • Wrestler Adeline Gray
  • Luger Erin Hamlin
  • Penn State volleyball player Micha Hancock
  • USC diver Haley Ishimatsu
  • Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky
  • Oregon football player Marcus Mariota
  • UConn basketball player Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
  • Duke basketball player Jahlil Okafor
  • Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schneiderjans
  • Water polo player Maggie Steffens

(Photo credit: BET.com)