Fifth Down: Rod Smith

Fifth Down is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with impact players in Ohio State athletics.

Fifth Down is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with impact players in Ohio State athletics.

When Rod Smith found the end zone in Ohio State's 29-15 win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham last weekend, it not only ended the Buckeyes' scoring drought, it showed the trust Urban Meyer has put in his redshirt sophomore running back.

Thrust into the backup role behind Jordan Hall, Smith finished the game with 24 yards on six carries and the touchdown.

In high school, Smith was a workhorse, carrying the ball 1,000 times for 6,625 yards and 66 touchdowns at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Paul Harding High School.

He was also an all-conference basketball player and state runner-up on the 4x100-meter relay team.

BN: What did it mean for coach Urban Meyer to trust you in the most important part of the game against UAB?

Smith: It felt good knowing I gained that trust and he called my number. I feel like I did well and that I'm going to be counted on more. It meant a lot. It made me feel like I gained trust. I felt like I gained respect. I'm not going to stop there. I'm going to keep moving forward.

BN: What was working out there for you in the win over UAB?

Smith: It was downhill running. That's what I was focusing on for the game. It worked pretty well.

BN: What are practices like among the running backs? How much do you make each other better?

Smith: It's intense. Every day we're out there competing to see who is going to be the best back of the day. We all push each other. You have veterans and some young guys. You can't get relaxed. You can't get comfortable and feel like you have a spot.

BN: With you, Bri'onte Dunn, Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, there are only so many carries to go around. How competitive is it?

Smith: When you get your carries, you have to make them count. Even in position drills, you have to always compete. You can't ever feel comfortable like you have a spot.

BN: How good is the future of Ohio State's backfield with Ezekiel Elliott coming in next year?

Smith: It's going to be great in this type of offense. You have the power plays and the plays where we spread them out. It's going to be explosive.

BN: Do you feel like the first of couple years here were a waste? How would you explain it?

Smith: It's been a learning experience. I've learned so much from the backs that were here to the backs that are here. With the new coaches, I've just learned so much more. I'm gathering so much information.