Smith to Carry Load for Gophers

August 17, 2018 09:37 AM

Three different Gophers running backs had 100-yard rushing games in 2017, but that depth in the backfield could be tough to find in 2018.

There's an outside chance Shannon Brooks returns late in the year, but he could miss the entire season with a leg injury. Kobe McCrary graduated, so that leaves senior Rodney Smith has the Gophers workhorse back.

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"Rodney Smith has the toughest player job because behind him, with Shannon being out, is freshmen," Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck said following Thursday's practice. "He's gotta be a coach, plus a player. He has to expedite their growth. Every day he comes to work. He practices like a pro, but Rodney has fun playing football."

Behind Brooks on the depth chart are three true freshmen (Nolan Edmonds, Bryce Williams and Preston Jelen), two redshirt freshmen (Mohamed Ibrahim and Dominik London) and one redshirt junior (Jonathan Femi-Cole). 

The balancing act of improving has craft as well as teaching the younger players has been challenging at times for Smith.

"It's been tough, but the coaches do a good job of preparing me for that." Smith said. "I'm thankful that they trust me for that role. Those young guys are coming along fast and I'm excited to see how they progress along the season."

Smith is the top NFL prospect on the team. He's rushed for 2,135 yards and scored 19 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

***CLICK VIDEO BOX FOR MORE FROM P.J. FLECK, RODNEY SMITH AND KICKER EMMIT CARPENTER***
 

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