Backup RB Smith leaves Buckeyes’ team

Published 1:19 am Thursday, October 30, 2014

COLUMBUS (AP) — Reserve running back Rod Smith has left the 13th-ranked Ohio State team to deal with some personal issues and won’t be coming back, team officials said Tuesday.

Coach Urban Meyer confirmed Smith’s departure in an email and told reporters during a Big Ten teleconference that Smith has had issues throughout his time at Ohio State.

“We’re going to do the best we can (with him). He’s going to graduate. I think he’s on schedule in the summer, so we’re going to do the best we can to assist (him),” Meyer said. “We’re disappointed but we wish him well.”

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Team spokesman Jerry Emig, responding to a question from The Associated Press, said Ohio State did not dismiss Smith from the squad.

“Rod has left the team,” Emig said in an email, declining to elaborate.

Meyer said there was no possibility that Smith might return.

“No, he’s got a chance to graduate from Ohio State and our focus now is on that,” he said.

Smith, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, will retain his scholarship.

Smith has had a troubled past in his college career, frequently in and out of the doghouse with the coaches. He was held out of most of this past spring’s workouts for what Meyer said were academic concerns. He also was suspended for the opener against Buffalo last season for an undisclosed violation of team rules which occurred over the winter of 2012-13.

But he worked his way back into the coaching staff’s good graces by his work on special teams, earning carries on offense.

Just two weeks ago, Meyer heaped praise on Smith as the team returned from an off week.

“He was out the gate in the spring, a non-factor. When I was getting ready for training camp, there was part of me saying we probably won’t have him back. He’s not a bad guy. He just struggled academically and didn’t do much,” Meyer said as his team prepared to play Rutgers. “(But) he’s been a pleasure to coach. His demeanor, his work ethic. I really like where he’s at.”

Smith had seen action in all seven games for the Buckeyes this season, carrying 24 times for 101 yards and four touchdowns.

Although Smith’s absence will cut into Ohio State’s depth at the position, he was still only fifth on the team in rushing.

“He didn’t play much but that was an area where we were getting a little bit better this year,” Meyer said. “We just have to stay healthy. It’ll provide an opportunity for another player.”

Ezekiel Elliott leads the Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) with 640 yards rushing, with Curtis Samuel third (251). Quarterbacks J.T. Barrett (458 yards) and Cardale Jones (141) were also ahead of Smith, with Dontre Wilson (100) just a yard back of him.


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