IRVING, Texas - You never have a second chance to make a good first impression, especially if you're a first round draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys.
However, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott first impressed the Cowboys and head coach Jason Garrett long before Friday's first minicamp practice at Valley Ranch.
Garrett first noticed Elliott when he was in a suite at AT&T Stadium with Emmitt Smith for the 2015 National Championship game between Ohio State and Oregon.
"Emmitt Smith said, 'This 15 for Ohio State is pretty good,'" Garrett said. "So, I kind of watched him because Emmitt knows a little something about running backs. Then you watch him through the next year and he obviously is a really, really good football player."
Elliott rushed for 246 against the Ducks, leading Ohio State to the national championship. He followed that performance up with an All-American season in 2015, which helped him become the No. 4 overall pick of the Cowboys.
"He's a pro," Running backs coach Gary Brown said. "He's a hell of a football player, he's smart, he's tough, works from the start of the practice until the end and I'm glad we have him."
However, Brown did say Elliott was a little winded from the speed of the practice and even told him to slow down at one point so he wouldn't slip and hurt himself.
"I think it's just being excited, going out trying to work as hard as you possibly can, trying to show what you can do and you just get a little ahead of yourself," Brown said. "I think he'll be better tomorrow and better again Sunday."
The rookies did drills without pads for 90 minutes and Elliott showcased his agility and elusiveness. Both coaches also commented on Elliott's demeanor off the field as well.
"He has excellent personal character and excellent football character," Garrett said. "You can see that in how he reacts with people, his teammates, and how he plays football. Football character is about being a great teammate, having a great work ethic, it's about doing your job, it's about accountability, and it's about physical and mental toughness."
As the presumed Cowboys' running back of the future, it can be easy to make comparisons between former Dallas greats. However, Garrett says Elliott comparisons shouldn't be taken too seriously.
"Ezekiel Elliott is going to be Ezekiel Elliott," Garrett said. "You have to be careful about viewing it through that prism. We try to evaluate what Elliott did for Ohio State and how we saw he could help our football team."
Though the coaches talked about some challenges Elliott might face in this minicamp such as getting up to speed with the NFL game and picking up the playbook, Brown is already pleased with the work he's seeing from the rookie.
"We're talking about where he wants to be and I think where he wants to be is he wants to help this team win," Brown said. "In practice he's been similar to what I've seen before. You see the bursts, the acceleration, and the power."
Traits that some coaches might have seen a little earlier than others.