IRVING, Texas- In his first trip to Valley Ranch as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott made one thing rather clear: he needs to establish himself.
And from the sound of things, he wants to establish himself in more ways than one.
During his first press conference with the Dallas media, Elliott mentioned a few ways he wants to establish his presence, whether it's in the locker room, on the depth chart or even relationships with former Cowboys greats.
Earlier in the day, Emmitt Smith tweeted out Elliott has the potential to be even better than the NFL's all-time rushing leader.
"I've heard about that and I'm honored that he believes that," Elliott said to the media. "I've got a lot to prove and for me to live up to that name it's going to take a lot of work. I'm just ready to get that rookie mini-camp in and get that started."
Elliott said he would love to establish a relationship with Smith, and even Tony Dorsett, which is something he's done in the past.
"I definitely would. That's something I did at Ohio State, establishing relationships with those great running backs," Elliott said. "The best way to learn to be great is by going to pick those guys' brains, so that's what I'm going to do."
Ironically, one of the former backs who did reach out to Elliott, was the last Cowboys running back to make the Pro Bowl.
"These past 24 hours have been kind of crazy, so honestly I haven't been on my phone as much, but actually DeMarco Murray did reach out to me," said Elliott, who flew from Chicago to Dallas on Jerry Jones' private plane. "He's not a veteran here [Dallas] anymore, but he is a former veteran here. He said I am going to have a great time playing for Coach Garrett and coach [Gary] Brown."
But before reaching out to the former greats, Elliott said building a relationship with the backs on this team is a higher priority. The newly-drafted tailback was happy to see teammate Darren McFadden reach out to him on Twitter, seemingly excited about having another back in the mix.
"It just shows how special of a person this is," Elliott said of McFadden, who led the Cowboys with 1,089 yards last season. "I'm looking forward to coming in here and learning from him and learning what allowed him to be so successful. But there's already a great stable of veteran running backs here, so I've got to come here and get to work and compete with those guys."
Establishing himself among the backs is vital, but also the guys up front. Elliott, who is known for being a willing and physical blocker, had a strong relationship with his Ohio State offensive linemen.
"I went out of my way to become close with those guys because I think that is important," Elliott said. "They embraced me as kind of an honorary lineman; we call them the slobs at Ohio State. I think what helped that is my willingness to block just like them. They kind of accepted me with open arms."
Elliott, who rushed for 43 touchdowns in three seasons with the Buckeyes, was an All-American in 2014 and a two-time All-Big 10 performer. He becomes the first running back drafted by the Cowboys in the first round since Felix Jones in 2008, and just the eighth team in franchise history. However, Elliott joins only Dorsett (No. 2 overall in 1977) as the only backs drafted in the Top 10 by the Cowboys.
The pressure of being the No. 4 overall selection is another reason why Elliott said he has to earn the respect of all teammates, not just the backs and linemen.
"These are battle-tested guys and it is going to be an honor being able to play on the same field as them," Elliott said of established leaders such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. "I am going to use all my resources and I am going to pick their brains. I am going to come here and try to figure out what has allowed them to become such successful players in this game for such a long time."
The Dallas Cowboys newest running back Ezekiel Elliott toured Valley Ranch before his first press conference with the media.