Ezekiel Elliott, who rocketed to national fame with his three-game romp through the post-season that played a huge role in Ohio State's rise to the first College Football Playoff national championship, isn't playing football like the rest of the Buckeyes this spring. Post-season surgery on the star running back's left wrist saw to that.

Ezekiel Elliott, who rocketed to national fame with his three-game romp through the post-season that played a huge role in Ohio State's rise to the first College Football Playoff national championship, isn't playing football like the rest of the Buckeyes this spring. Post-season surgery on the star running back's left wrist saw to that.

But Elliott, a finalist for the Sullivan Award to be presented to the nation's top amateur athlete on April 19, and considered the early Heisman Trophy favorite by oddsmakers, said today he is seeing progress as he rehabs from the surgery which included a bone graft to further strengthen the joint.

"I got my cast off Monday," Elliott said after the Buckeyes' morning practice. "It's a six-week process getting my mobility back, and after those six weeks I'll be full go."

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He has his own routine as the rest of the Buckeyes go through the two-hour on-field workouts on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center indoor field.

"Right now I'm not really practicing with the team, I'm just getting my speed work on the side," Elliott said. "I get my mental reps (standing behind the offense, imagining what he would do as, say, Bri'onte Dunn runs a play) when I can when it's team reps."

It's obvious which wrist was the one with the malady.

"I can feel it getting better, but right now it's real small, real weak, I get a little bit of pain here and there; the bone is not fully healed," Elliott said. "I've still got six more weeks until I'm 100 percent."

He suffered the initial injury early in preseason camp last August, breaking a bone in his wrist and undergoing immediate surgery to set it and thus allow him to play. But there was a price.

"I was basically out there playing with one hand … I couldn't carry the ball in my left hand, I couldn't really punch with it (either when stiff-arming or when blocking), I couldn't really do much with it," Elliott said. "I was pretty handicapped."

Yet in the late-going of the regular season and then the post-season, he took a leap forward in productivity. He ran for 220 yards in the Big Ten title win over Wisconsin, 230 in the victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal, and 246 and four touchdowns in the national championship game win over Oregon. He wound up with 1,878 yards rushing, just 49 short of 1995 Heisman winner Eddie George's school season-record 1,927.

"I think I finished on a good note, but it was the whole team – we came out and were just a different team those last three games," Elliott said. "We got better every week. And with that line blocking like that it was pretty easy to do what I did."

He also turned heads in another way last season with his preference to play with a tucked-up jersey, displaying his midriff, much as George did during his time at OSU. The NCAA rules committee has proposed a mandate that players not be allowed to wear their jerseys in such a way. If Elliott has a beef with that, and he seemed to on Twitter when it first was revealed, he didn't let it be known today.

"The NCAA has its rules and it's our job to abide by 'em," Elliott said.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports