Alton native Ezekiel Elliott is now officially in the NFL.
Elliott was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Ohio State alum was the first running back taken in the draft.
It marked the first time Dallas had selected a running back in the first round in eight years. Only Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett has been taken by the Cowboys higher in the draft at the position. Dorsett was the second overall pick in 1977. All-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith was a No. 17 pick in the '90 NFL Draft.
Elliott was born in Alton and grew up on Brown Street. He is the grandson of former Alton High standout basketball player Leon Huff, who played for the Redbirds in the late 1960s before playing his college ball at Drake University and continuing his career overseas. His father, Stacey, played football at Mizzou, while his mother Dawn ran track at Missouri. Dawn is Huff's daughter.
Elliott spent two years in elementary school in Alton before enrolling in prep school in St. Louis. He played prep football at John Burroughs Prep in St. Louis. Former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte was his head coach. Elliott led the Bombers to three consecutive state title games and scored a whopping 44 touchdowns during his senior season.
He also played basketball and ran track at John Burroughs.
Elliott was then recruited by coach Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. He leaves Ohio State in the No. 2 slot on the all-time rushing list, trailing on two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. Elliott leaves the Buckeyes with 3,961 yards rushing, including 3,699 over his sophomore and junior seasons. He declared for the draft following his junior campaign.
In 2014, Elliott helped lead Ohio State to the NCAA National Championship. He rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-20 rout of Oregon.
The 2016 NFL Draft continues today and Saturday with Edwardsville High grads Vincent Valentine and Rodney Coe having the opportunity to go in the later rounds. Valentine was a defensive tackle at Nebraska, while Coe was a defensive tackle at Akron. Valentine announced he would become eligible for the draft following his junior season with the Cornhuskers.