Syracuse running back Jerome Smith will play one final game for the Orange before testing the NFL waters. On Friday it was reported Smith will enter the NFL Draft this spring, skipping his final year of eligibility with the Orange.
“He just felt it was his time,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said in a report by Syracuse.com. “He’s all set to graduate, all set with school. He felt like he finished school and there wasn’t any reason to hang around anymore. He felt like he was ready.”
Smith rushed for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns this season and has rushed for 2,145 yards and 15 touchdowns in his three years on the football field, with one game still to play. Syracuse will face Minnesota in the Texas Bowl next week. Smith was second in the Big East in rushing in 2012 and was seventh in the ACC this fall. Perhaps he would have benefited from another year in college, but with a degree in hand there may have been little to return for in 2014 in the eyes of Smith. This is not a particularly strong year for running backs in the draft, but where Smith may be projected to go could be debatable. It is not as though he is a first round draft pick, or perhaps even a second round draft pick.
Shafer recognizes this is SMith’s decision to make and he made a point to not get involved too much in preventing his player from pursuing his dream.
“I always tell every kid it’s a decision they have to make on their own,” Shafer said. “If I weigh in, that’s just another opinion. I was never in the business of talking anyone into staying or going. I want them to weigh the pros on one side, the cons on the other, and make the best choice for them.”