J.T. Barrett flashed a wide smile when he heard the name.
Yes, even a year after leaving Ohio State, Pat Elflein is still held in high regard by his former teammates.
"That's my man … Big Daddy Pat," Barrett, the former Ohio State quarterback, said last week from the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Barrett and Elflein were teammates for three seasons in college with the Buckeyes before the offensive lineman was a third-round pick (70th overall) by the Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Elflein started 41 of 54 games at Ohio State, including 28 at guard before moving to center as a fifth-year senior. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten as a guard in 2014-15 and helped Ohio State win College Football Playoff after the 2014 season, starting the first three games at left guard before moving to right guard for the final 12 games.
As a senior, Elflein won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to college football's top interior lineman.
Barrett said Elflein, a consensus All-American in 2016, was a key reason why the Buckeyes went 11-2 and reached the College Football Playoff.
"Pat was a selfless guy; he was constantly helping out the team," Barrett said in Indianapolis. "[We] would have great conversations on how we could help our offense be the best offense it could be, especially in his last year in 2016.
"He's one of the Buckeye greats, and I was proud to call him one of my teammates," Barrett added.
Elflein enjoyed a standout 2017 season in Minnesota and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
He helped the Vikings go 13-3 and win the NFC North while reaching the NFC title game.
Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price, who replaced Elflein as the Buckeyes center in 2017, was asked about his former teammate at the combine.
Price said Elflein gave him plenty of advice over the past year — both on the combine and what life was like in the NFL.
"He's been a huge help during this entire process. 'Hey Pat, what do I expect?' We were always texting throughout the season as well," Price said at the combine. "Going into the Eagles [game in the NFC Championship], he was playing [Philadelphia defensive tackle] Fletcher Cox, that's a [heck] of a defensive lineman. That's a guy Pat was ready for and was prepared [for by] watching film and picking up those little tendencies.
"He was able to help me understand and craft what this transition and next step is going to be going into the NFL," Price added. "He's somebody that is very helpful … I had a great relationship with Pat."
Elflein started 14 regular-season games for the Vikings in 2017 before starting in both of Minnesota's postseason contests.