Few positions have been talked about more in the recent weeks at Ohio State than the running back position. Given the turmoil created by the Carlos Hyde situation, this is to be expected. The biggest question during the time in which no one was sure of the future of Hyde at Ohio State was that of who would fill the role of the #1 running back in Urban Meyer’s offense. Many pointed immediately to someone who had to step up and achieve the acclaim with which they were notarized before committing to the Buckeyes, Rod Smith.
A four star (Rivals) running back out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Rod Smith is known for his impressive size and speed combination. A track-like athlete, Smith’s 40 time in high school was 4.5 seconds. At 6’3, 238lbs, this garners some obvious comparisons to one Beanie Wells. The only problem that has seem to keep Smith from really catapulting himself into an every-down back is his issue with holding onto the football. His fumblesome hands have been more than noted by Buckeye writers and fans alike, which is cause for concern in the first three games of the season.
The redshirt junior looks to make a big impact during the time in which Hyde is suspended, but will have to show everyone he can hold onto the ball while doing so. Nothing can cause issues early in the season like turnovers. It is normal for teams to not be playing their best football early, and while our first three opponents are not of the highest caliber, the game at Cal is one to watch if turnovers become an issue.
Smith has raw talent, and has shown it in few touches he gets a season. During the 2012 undefeated season he recorded 32 carries for 215 yards, an average of 6.7 yards a carry. That stat alone shows his ability to break the long runs with that speed. We can only hope the drills being carried out in practice, along with some mental training on not carrying the ball like Deon Sanders, will instill in Smith’s mind that he is a valuable part of this team, and he’ll be looked to more often if the running game is to have success.