Minnesota running back Rodney Smith will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a knee jury against Fresno State, the program announced Monday.
“I am devastated for Rodney, but I know he will keep his oar in the water and continue to move forward and attack his rehabilitation process,” Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “He is a leader on this team and I look forward to him working with our young players as we continue to grow this season.”
A senior from Jonesboro, Ga., Smith entered the season ranking fifth in Gophers history in career carries (651) and seventh in yards (2,959). He earned the Bronko Nagurski Award as the team’s MVP in 2017 after carrying 299 times for 977 yards and three touchdowns. Smith was also named MVP of Minnesota’s 2016 Holiday Bowl win over Washington State, rushing 17 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Smith was off to a promising start to his senior campaign, rushing 24 times for 153 yards in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State last Thursday. He carried one time for one yard in Saturday’s game with Fresno State. Smith was injured on the third play of the game after catching an 11-yard screen pass and remained on the turf after being tackled.
Minnesota went on to win the game, 21-14.
Smith has already used his redshirt season, but Fleck said Monday that Minnesota will apply for a waiver to get its running back a sixth season.
With Smith out, Minnesota figures to turn a pair of freshmen — Bryce Williams and Mohamed Ibrahim — to carry the load at running back.