Blessed With A Strong Work Ethic

Sophomore running back Robert Elliott has always had the moves and speed to be a big-time running back, but he's also got another attribute that is necessary if you want to achieve greatness and that is a tremendous work ethic.

"I think that working hard is a talent that God blessed me with," said Robert.

And he's needed that work ethic because Mississippi State head strength coach Matt Balis believes in hard work 100% of the time.

"His whole demeanor about himself is different because you are always going to have to work 100%," said Robert, referring to the first-year head strength coach. "With some (strength) coaches you just go in there and get your job done. But with him you are going to give 100% and more. And everything that we do is hard, everything is hard. Nothing in the weight room is set up to be easy."

While not easy, Robert knows it has to be done.

"It really wasn't difficult because you have to look at it like this, you are either going to do it or you aren't - you either do it or you go home," said Robert. "You have to do it, so you just go in there and do it, give it everything that you have. "

His work ethic also helped him recover from a knee injury that he suffered early in the 2008 season.

"I have been out for close to a year but I have been full contact from Day 1 (in preseason practice)," said the 205-pounder. "I feel like I'm 100% back from the knee injury. I don't have any problems out of it. I can cut good. I still haven't gotten my moves back but that's just a lack of being out there and being a little rusty."

Due to the knee injury, Robert now understands one play could easily end his career but he's not letting that affect how he plays the game. In fact, he's just happy to be back playing the game of football, period.

"I'm just really happy to be out there with the guys again," said Robert. "I don't (even) mind getting hit because you never know when it might be your last time to be able to get hit."

Robert is part of what he feels is one of the stronger positions on the Bulldog team thanks mainly to a couple of veterans and an experienced offensive line.

"I think the run game is one of the strong points of this team because we have (senior) Anthony Dixon, (senior) Christian Ducre, me, (and redshirt freshman) Sylvester Hemphill, a lot of guys who can run the ball," said Robert, "and we have a good O-line upfront."

Robert, who was an exceptional runner in high school, feels like he's improved quite a bit since his senior season at Okolona High School.

"Basically, I am a smarter runner," said Robert. "What I mean by that is by getting my pad level down instead of running straight up. When I get tackled I get my pad level down, lean forward and get extra yards after the contact. I also gained more weight. I weighed 188 out of high school and now weigh 205."

And despite the added weight, he also feels that he's increased his speed.

"I gained weight but I don't feel like I've lost any speed," said Robert. "In fact, I feel like I've gotten faster. The last time I did my forty I was 194 pounds and that was in April. I ran a 4.53. I feel like I have gained a little speed because I had just had surgery that December. I feel like I'm a high 4.4 guy right now."

And that added speed has not only come in handy on the football field but off the field as well thanks to another addition that is requiring a little extra effort on Robert's part, an effort he's more than happy to make.

"During my off-time I spend time with my little girl Jordyn Nekole Elliott, who will be two on September 29th," said Robert. "All my off-time that's all I'm doing, trying to spend time with her. And every time I'm with her I take her to the park because she's always saying, 'I want to slide, I want to slide.' We end up staying in the park about four hours because when I put her on the slide she wants to go again and again and again and when I take her off the slide she wants to swing and swing."

It looks like Robert Elliott has handed down his gift of a strong work ethic to his young daughter.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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