“Rod Smith has left the Ohio State football team in order to deal with some personal issues,” Meyer said in a written statement. “We will continue to support Rod and we wish him the best.”
Shortly after the statement was released, Meyer said on the teleconference that Smith will remain on scholarship and the program hopes to see him graduate. Smith finishes his career with eight touchdowns, but the former four-star recruit out of Fort Wayne, Ind., never made a start in his career. He flirted with dismissal in the past and did not finish spring practice in 2014 because of academic struggles.
"He’s had issues really since he’s been at Ohio State," Meyer said. "We’re going to do the best we can. He’s going to graduate. I think he’s on schedule (to graduate) in summer, so we’re going to assist him the best we can. It is disappointing, but we wish him well.”
With the loss of Smith, the door could be opening for other running backs. True freshman Curtis Samuel and sophomore Bri’onte Dunn are both dealing with injuries to at least some degree, which could mean more carries for sophomore Warren Ball.
“We’ve just got to stay healthy,” Meyer said. “We had Curtis Samuel get hurt and then Bri’onte Dunn, so it’s all a matter of health. Warren Ball’s value now… he has to be in the mix. Not only that but in special teams but in special teams, which he’s had a nice history of that. He’s a hard worker. Another opportunity for another player.”
Samuel, who has rushed 36 times this year for 251 yards (7.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, likely now becomes the No. 2 back in the rotation.
"Curtis is ready to play," running backs coach Stan Drayton said Monday. "Curtis Samuel is definitely a young man that we have to get in the fold more. He is a very explosive player averaging double digits every time he touches the ball."