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Ezekiel Elliott wins top Big Ten offensive player, leads 14 Ohio State players on all-conference lists

OSU junior running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs with the ball to the end zone during a game against Michigan on Nov. 28 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OSU won 42-13. Credit: Muyao Shen | Assistant Photo Editor

OSU junior running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs with the ball to the end zone during a game against Michigan on Nov. 28 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OSU won 42-13. Credit: Muyao Shen | Assistant Photo Editor

After rushing for 1,672 yards through 12 games, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was named the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday evening.

The junior headlined a class of six offensive players named to either the coaches’ or media’s all-Big Ten teams and was also named the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year.

Elliott was a steady influence on the offense all season long, rushing for triple-digit yardage in 11 of 12 games, including 274- and 214-yard outbursts against Indiana and Michigan, respectively.

The St. Louis native tacked on 19 touchdowns in 12 games, one more than his 15-game total a season ago. He has also been lauded by coach Urban Meyer as one of the top blockers on the team all season long. In addition to the ground attack, he added 176 yards on 26 receptions, the third-most catches on the team.

Meyer said after the Michigan game that he believes Elliott should be a Heisman Trophy finalist. Regardless, the Offensive Player of the Year award stands as a fitting end to his junior season, which he already announced would be his final one collegiately.

Elliott, as expected, was also named to the all-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and media.

Joining Elliott on both first teams were a pair of offensive linemen: senior left tackle Taylor Decker and redshirt junior right guard Pat Elflein.

Decker also took home a top positional honor as a blocker, winning the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award.

Decker, for the second year in a row, was the anchor of an offensive line that overcame a slow start to turn into one of OSU’s biggest strengths toward the latter part of the season.

The Vandalia, Ohio, native played a big role in opening up holes that enabled Elliott to have the year he did, as well as buying quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett room to run and time to throw.

Decker was named to the all-Big Ten second team in 2014 by both the coaches and media but took a step up to the elite of the conference in his senior season.

Elflein was another solid performer all season long on the opposite side from Decker. The first-team honors on the coaches’ ballot were the second in as many years as a starter for the Pickerington, Ohio, product, and he also appeared on the media’s first team for the first time.

In addition to the threesome on the coaches’ and media’s first teams, two of Decker’s and Elflein’s mates on the offensive line, sophomore left guard Billy Price and senior center Jacoby Boren, were named to the third team. Redshirt senior wide receiver Michael Thomas joined the two blockers on both third teams.

Elliott was the third Offensive Player of the Year from OSU in the past four years, joining redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller, who won the award as a quarterback in 2012 and 2013. He is also the second OSU running back to win the top Big Ten honors at the position, joining Carlos Hyde in 2013.

Decker was the first OSU offensive lineman to win the Rimington-Pace award since 2001, when center LeCharles Bentley nabbed the honors.

Eight OSU players appeared on the all-conference lists for defense and special teams, which were released Monday night: defensive end Joey Bosa, linebackers Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillan and Darron Lee, safety Vonn Bell, cornerback Eli Apple, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington and punter Cameron Johnston. Bosa was also named the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year.

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