Robert Smith (running back)

For other people named Robert Smith, see Robert Smith (disambiguation).
Robert Smith
No. 20, 26
Position: Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1972-03-04) March 4, 1972
Place of birth: Euclid, Ohio, U.S.
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Euclid (OH)
College: The Ohio State University
NFL Draft: 1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 21
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing Yards: 6,818
Average: 4.8
Touchdowns: 32
Player stats at

Robert Scott Smith (born March 4, 1972) is a college football analyst for Fox Sports and the Big Ten Network. He is also a former American football running back who played college football at Ohio State University and professionally with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL).

High school

While at Euclid High School, Smith became the first player to win Ohio's Mr. Football Award twice (in 1988 and 1989). As a junior, he gained 1,564 yards on 177 rushes (8.8 yards per carry) and averaged 31 yards on 10 punt returns. As a senior, he gained 2,042 yards on 203 carries and scored 31 touchdowns. During his Panthers' career, he rushed for a total of 5,038 yards on 548 carries with 67 touchdowns.[1]


Smith narrowed his college choices to the University of Miami, the University of Southern California, UCLA and Ohio State, choosing Ohio State. In his two seasons with the Buckeyes, Smith ran for a total of 1,945 yards. He led the Buckeyes in rushing in 1990 and 1992, with a personal-best 1,126 yards in 1990. He averaged 88.4 yards per game and rushed for 18 touchdowns.[2]

He sat out the 1991 football season, switching to a track and field scholarship. For the Buckeyes' track team, he posted a personal-best time of 10.24 seconds in the 100 meters.[3][4] He seriously considered transferring to either USC or Stanford University to play football. But Ohio State coach John Cooper had kept the door open for Smith to return to the Buckeyes' football team, and Smith finally returned to play in 1992.[5]


Smith was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round (21st overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. Although he suffered from a number of ailments in his first few seasons, he finally broke through in 1997, gaining 1,266 yards. Smith's finest year as a pro came in the 2000 season, leading the NFC in rushing with 1,521 yards. He retired at the end of the season, despite being at the peak of his career.

In eight NFL seasons, Smith rushed for 6,818 yards and 32 touchdowns, along with 178 receptions for 1,292 yards and 6 touchdowns, and only fumbled nine times. He also returned 1 punt for 4 yards and 19 kickoffs for a total of 460 yards. Smith wore number 20 as a rookie in 1993, but switched to number 26 when it became available in 1994 and wore it until his retirement.



After retirement

Smith retired after only eight seasons in the NFL. He walked away from the game to pursue a career in medicine as well as to avoid any serious injuries. He has maintained a mostly private life since his retirement. He has mainly appeared as a guest on the ESPN news program Outside the Lines, as well as a College Football analyst on various ESPN programs alongside regulars Rece Davis, Mark May, and Lou Holtz. Smith also works on the NFL Network as an analyst and has appeared on The Score to discuss the NFL.

In May 2016, Smith left ESPN to work for Fox Sports and is currently a College Football analyst on Fox Sports & The Big Ten Network.

Smith founded the Robert Smith Foundation, a charity whose goal is to "provide financial and moral support for Children's hospitals and cancer research."

Smith made a cameo appearance in the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was in Season 8 Episode 3 The Mole People. He played a scantily clad, mute "hunk" given to Pearl (the series' antagonist) as a present by her minions.

2004 saw publication of Smith's book The Rest of the Iceberg: An Insider's View on the World of Sport and Celebrity. In it he discussed his background, his time at Ohio State and the NFL, and why he retired. He also analyzed the obsession placed on sports stars by the public. wrote in 2006 that Smith is an atheist.[7]

Smith is one of the amateur astronomers featured in science writer Timothy Ferris's 2007 PBS program, Seeing in the Dark, based on his 2002 book of the same name.

On November 1, 2013, Smith openly admitted to fighting alcoholism during his playing career on ESPN during an interview on SportsCenter. Smith explained he sought counseling and has now been sober since the birth of his son, and that his family is his daily motivation to stay sober. He also appeared on ESPN's First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless talking about his stint as an alcoholic.[8]


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