Minnesota loses star running back Rodney Smith for the season with leg injury

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One of the Big Ten's top running back's season is over. Minnesota confirmed a report from The Athletic that senior running back Rodney Smith will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a leg injury in the first quarter of Saturday's win over Fresno State.

"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," 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."

Smith, a redshirt senior, has been the centerpiece of Minnesota's offense for the last two years. He led the Gophers with 1,158 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016 and again led the team in rushing with 977 yards and three touchdowns in 2017. Through one game-and-a quarter in 2018, he averaged 6.16 yards per carry and gained 154 yards. 

Smith's four-year career with the program has been remarkable. 

YearRushing YardsRushing TDsYPC

2015

670

2

4.27

2016

1,158

16

4.83

2017

977

3

4.27

2018

154

0

6.16

Smith was a third-team, All-Big Ten selection in 2016 and was a received an honorable mention by the conference in 2017. Fleck said that the school will file for a sixth year of eligibility.

It puts even more pressure on a Gopher backfield that is already stretched thin. 

Freshman Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 101 yards on nine carries in the opener vs. New Mexico State, but pulled up on a 74-yard run and sat out Saturday's game. Freshman Bryce Williams and junior Jonathan Femi-Cole filled in after Smith's injury on Saturday, but the running game didn't pack the same kind of punch. 

Minnesota hosts Miami (Ohio) Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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