Harding running back Rod Smith knows when hes wanted. He also knows where he fits best.
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound senior orally committed to play for Ohio State in 2010 over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Tennessee. The decision came during an unofficial visit to Columbus, where Smith watched a summer workout and met with head coach Jim Tressel and running backs coach Dick Tressel.
When I went down, I felt it was time for me to commit after I got done hanging out with the players and everything, Smith said. Ive been conversing with the coaches for a long time. Weve got great chemistry with each other. I know what they expect from me, and I know that will be a perfect fit for me.
Smiths father Roger Smith accompanied him during the visit.
Theyre an established team, Roger Smith said. Hell get a good workout not only on the field, but hell have good academics as well, which is the most important thing. He has a good chance to fulfill his dreams.
Smith rushed for 1,685 yards as a junior and has amassed a school record 4,770 career rushing yards, putting him 559 yards away from breaking the SAC rushing record set by former Wayne standout Ray Byers. His commitment comes seven months before the national signing date. While many players wait to commit until the last day possible, Smith took notice of the Buckeyes, who seemed to make him a higher priority.
I just felt like there were no other schools that were recruiting me as hard as they were, besides Michigan State, Smith said. I just felt like there was nobody beating them right now.
Ohio State has been a favorite of his since the Buckeyes were impressed by Smith at a 7-on-7 camp as a freshman.
The departure of Chris Beanie Wells to the NFL leaves a void for a big running back, one which Smith feels he can fill. According to Rivals.com, Smith is the first running back commitment of the 2010 class.
They told me they dont have any big backs since Beanie left, Smith said. So I hope that I can fill that spot.
With no word on whether he will be redshirted or get a chance to play as freshman, Smith says he wants to play, but its not something hes worried about.
I dont know if Ill get playing time but Im going to do my best, Smith said. Its just whatever they feel is best for me. If they feel I need to redshirt Ill redshirt. If they feel like I need to come in and be starter and a rotate back. Im willing to do whatever I need to do to get in that line-up.
A perennial national championship contender, the Buckeyes have a bevy of talented players.
Its a place where I can improve my skills, Smith said. Its a place Im going to work harder than I ever have before.