COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio State coaching staff wasn't sure it would have running back Rod Smith back for the start of his final season with the program, and according to The Columbus Dispatch, the senior won't be around for the end of it.
Citing a source, the newspaper reported Smith failed a drug test and has been dismissed after playing seven games for the No. 13 Buckeyes this season. Smith had missed time during spring practice due to academic issues, and his status previously had been up in the air after missing team meetings without permission.
But after bouncing back from those issues, Smith had drawn praise from the coaches for his attitude, work ethic, and embracing a role on special teams and as a short-yardage tailback, scoring five total touchdowns and rushing for 101 yards. An Ohio State spokesman could not confirm the dismissal, which initially was reported by ElevenWarriors.com.
"My turnaround, basically I made up my mind that enough was enough," Smith told ESPN.com on Oct. 14. "This is my last year to go out and help this team and try to get film and try to get myself ready for the next level.
"We all just sat down, and after the incidents happened, I just made sure I was going to work my butt off to contribute to this team and not let the running backs down. They never turned their back on me. When I was doing all that stuff, they never shied away from me."
The Buckeyes are separating from Smith now, though, bringing a close to a career that never lived up to the hype that accompanied his recruitment as a four-star tailback.
Smith clashed with the coaching staff off the field, missed a team flight to the Gator Bowl in 2011 and had fumbling issues that kept him from earning a regular role in the lineup. He was becoming a veteran coach Urban Meyer could rely on lately, but that appears to have been short-lived.
"He was out the gate in spring, a nonfactor," Meyer said Oct. 13. "When I was getting ready for training camp, there was part of me saying we probably won't have a back."
That moment has arrived now, just a couple of short months later than might have been originally anticipated.