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Rodney Smith emerged as a star in 2016 and this summer has been placed on both the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists.
Smith rushed 240 times (tenth most in school history in a single season) for 1,158 yards (16th most in school history in a single season) and 16 touchdowns (third most in school history in a single season). Smith, who started 12 of 13 games last season, became the 20th Gopher ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. In addition, he caught 23 passes for 188 yards and returned eight kickoffs for 263 yards, which included a 94-yard touchdown against Rutgers to finish the season with 1,609 all-purpose yards (12th most in school history in a single season). The Jonesboro, Ga. native scored 17 touchdowns (tied for second in school history in a single season) and tallied 102 points (tied for third most in school history in a single season). Smith was named All-Big Ten Third Team by league coaches and media and was named Offensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl after scoring one touchdown and recording 132 all-purpose yards.
For his career, Smith has rushed 397 times for 1,828 yards in 25 games. His 1,828 yards is tied for 19th all-time in school history. He has scored 18 (2 in 2015 and 16 in 2016) career rushing touchdowns, which ranks tied for 16th in school history. He enters the 2017 season with 155 consecutive carries without a fumble (last fumble was against Iowa in 2016).
Pick Six With Rodney Smith
Gopher Sports: What is one thing you could not live without?
RS: My mom and dad. They keep me on track.
GS: Would you rather be eight feet tall or three feet tall and why?
RS: I would definitely rather be eight feet tall. I am on the short side of the spectrum. I would like to experience what it is like to be a tall guy. It would be pretty amazing to truck stick somebody at eight feet tall. I would feel like Goliath.
GS: Would you rather eat a whole jar of peanut butter or a pound of cheese with no water?
RS: A whole jar of peanut butter. I actually used to just sit and scoop peanut butter so I am definitely a peanut butter eater. It goes down pretty smooth and it tastes it good.
GS: Who on the team has the best dance moves?
RS: By far Rashad Still.
GS: Best hair?
RS: It was Kobe McCrary. Now I have to give it to my dude Quinn Coughlin.
GS: Favorite video game?
RS: NBA 2k. It is where I got the wave (touchdown celebration) from.
GS: Can you beat Shannon Brooks?
RS: I whoop Shannon. He is lying if he says otherwise.
Ski-U-Mah Weekly: Episode 6
P.J. Fleck, Jenny Hansen and Abby DeMuse are this week's guests on Ski-U-Mah Weekly which streams on Facebook every Monday.
Game 7: Illinois at Minnesota
Minnesota hosts Illinois at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The game can be watched on the Big Ten Network and can be heard on KFAN.
Gopher Rally Falls Short in 30-27 Loss
Demry Croft connected with Tyler Johnson for three fourth quarter touchdowns, but #21 Michigan State held on for a 30-27 victory over Minnesota.