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Robert Smith

Matt Gutridge's picture
August 4, 2014 at 3:49pm


Today's featured players are Robert Smith, Gust Zarnas and Ashton Youboty. To read about the other 29 players to wear No. 26, go here. Zarnas and Youboty have interesting stories that are worth the read.

Robert Smith was the first player to win the state of Ohio's Mr. Football twice.

Robert Smith was the first player to win the state of Ohio's Mr. Football twice.

Robert Smith, RB (1990, 1992)
1972 (Euclid, Ohio)
High School: Euclid

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 15-7-2 with Smith on the team.
1990 Defeated No. 6 Iowa 27-26.

1988 Mr. Football.
1989 Mr. Football.
1989 USA Today High School All-American.
1998 Pro Bowl.
2000 Pro Bowl.
2000 NFL Alumni Running Back of the Year.

Robert Smith had an interesting Ohio State career.In 1990, he came to Ohio State as the only high school player to ever win Mr. Ohio twice (1988 and 1989).  

Smith broke the freshman rushing record as he ran for 1,126 yards (6.4 ypc) and eight touchdowns. 

Robert Smith graduated from Euclid High School.

Robert Smith graduated from Euclid High School.

He capped his freshman campaign off with 62 yards rushing and a touchdown in a loss to Air Force in the Liberty Bowl.

Then Smith dropped a bomb shell in August of 1991 before the start of his sophomore season per nytimes.com:

Robert Smith won't be setting any records for Ohio State this season.

The sophomore tailback said today that he would not return to the football team. The announcement ended week long speculation on whether Smith, who broke Ohio State's freshman rushing record last season, would play this season.

He quit the team Aug. 23, saying the coaching staff disregarded academics and the players' safety.

Although Smith said he would not return to the team this year, he did not say he would never play for Ohio State again.

"Throughout the year, I questioned the importance of what I was doing relative to my larger goals in life," he said in a two-minute statement during a news conference. "In view of these doubts, I believe neither the team nor I would benefit from my return to the football program at this time." Smith said he intended to remain at Ohio State. source

Then in March of 1992 this happened per nytimes.com:

Robert Smith rushed for an Ohio State freshman record 1,126 yards in 1990.

Robert Smith rushed for an Ohio State freshman record 1,126 yards in 1990. 

Running back ROBERT SMITH is returning to the Ohio State team he quit in a dispute with an assistant coach whom he says told him to skip class to attend football practice.

"I told the team this morning he is coming back and of, course, they're happy," Coach JOHN COOPER said yesterday. "I'm happy. Robert's happy."

Smith, who broke ARCHIE GRIFFIN's school rushing record for freshmen in 1990, quit the team last August in a disagreement with the offensive coordinator, ELLIOTT UZELAC, over his studies. Uzelac resigned as an assistant coach last month, saying he wanted to pursue other coaching opportunities.

In his junior season, and what would be his final stint in Columbus, he rushed for 819 yards (5.6 ypc) and 10 touchdowns.

Smith's career ended at Ohio State with a 21-14 loss to Georgia in the Citrus Bowl. He rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Buckeye.



Robert Smith played his entire NFL career with the Vikings.

Robert Smith played his entire NFL career with the Vikings.

Robert Smith was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1993 NFL draft. He spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the Vikings. He retired he as the all-time leading rusher in Vikings history. He wore No. 26 every season except for his rookie year.


Robert Smith was in a PBS film "Seeing in the Dark" about intellectual curiosity. In this article (7-12-08), by Jamie Turner of cleveland.com, Smith talks about his passion for astronomy. Later in the article Smith shares his one regret about his time at Ohio State:

Today, he regrets missing the season in Columbus. "If I had it to do over, I wouldn't sit it out," he said. "That meant I let a guy run me out of the program. You look like a whistle-blower if you say it outside the system, instead of staying and saying, 'I'm still here.'"

After undergoing four operations on his knee, he quit the NFL in 2000, following his best season when he was the league's second-leading rusher with 1,521 yards. The New York Giants' Jason Sehorn called him "Eddie George with another gear," referring to the Buckeyes' back who won the 1995 Heisman Trophy. Had Smith played another season at OSU, former coach John Cooper always thought he would have won college football's top award too.

Was the Heisman Trophy Smith's had he stayed for his senior season? John Cooper thought so.

Was the Heisman Trophy Smith's had he stayed for his senior season? John Cooper thought so.

In the PBS film, Smith said he quit because he no longer found the running back position "intellectually stimulating." Some will say that is so Doogie.

"It wasn't like I was bored. But it wasn't as fascinating once the game slowed down for me," Smith said.

Robert Smith shares his battle with alcoholism per Wikipedia:

On November 1st, 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.

Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide, cleveland.com, nytimes.com and Wikipedia



Zarnas was an All-American guard and went 3-0 against That Team.

Zarnas was an All-American guard and went 3-0 against That Team.

Gust Zarnas, OG (1935-37)
1913 (Ikaris, Greece)
Died: 2000 (Bethlehem, PA)

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 18-6 with Zarnas on the team.
1935 Big Ten Title.
Went 3-0 against That Team and outscored them 80-0.

1937 All-American.
1937 All-B1G.
1975 Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
1978 Inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Zarnas' Ohio State career per ohiostatebuckeyes.com:

Three-sport star Gust Zarnas was an All-American football guard for the Buckeyes in 1937 and played in the 1938 East-West All-Star game. He also lettered two years in baseball and one year in track. Zarnas is a member of the National Football Hall of Fame.

After Zarnas' NFL career with the Bears he founded an industrial and commercial services company called G.C. Zarnas & Co., Inc. His biography from gczarnas.com:

Zarnas also served our country as a lieutenant in the Navy during WW II.

Zarnas also served our country as a lieutenant in the Navy during WW II.

From his humble beginnings, Gust C. Zarnas left his hometown of Brackenridge, PA, to attend Ohio State University on a football scholarship.  As part of the school’s curriculum, he was required to work 20 hours per week.  It was the depression years, so extra money he earned was sent to his family back home.

After graduating from Ohio State in 1937, Gust played as a defensive guard for The Chicago Bears and later The Green Bay Packers.  He and his fellow Green Bay teammates were victorious in 1939’s World Championship (today’s Super bowl).

A Navy veteran of World War II, Gust served as a lieutenant senior grade and an athletic officer in the V-12 program.  He also played for the Great Lakes Naval Training Center Team, which won the Armed Services Football Championship in 1942. 

A past chairman of the Historic Preservation Fund Campaign of Bethlehem, PA, Gust participated in several fund drives to support Bethlehem area hospitals, religious organizations, higher education and services that promote the development of our youth.

Gust’s greatest passion was supporting and participating in the advancement of youth fitness and athletic organizations.  For many years, Gust was a keynote speaker and presenter at the Lehigh Valley Scholar Athlete Awards Event.

Gust was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and received the 1977 award of honor from the Boys Club of Bethlehem, PA.  Gust was also selected to the Ohio State University, American Hellenic Education Progressive Association and Allegheny-Kiski Valley All Sport Halls of Fame.

Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide, gczarnas.com, ohiostatebuckeyes.com and Wikipedia


Youboty won three bowl games during his career at Ohio State.

Youboty won three bowl games during his career at Ohio State.

Ashton Youboty, CB (2003-05)
1984 (Monrovia, Liberia)
High School: Klein (Houston, TX)

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 29-8 with Youboty on the team.
2005 Big Ten Title.
2004 Defeated Kansas State 35-28 to win the Fiesta Bowl.
2004 Defeated Oklahoma State 33-7 to win the Alamo Bowl.
2006 Defeated Notre Dame 34-20 to win the Fiesta Bowl.
Went 2-1 against That Team.

2005 All-Big Ten.

Youboty's Ohio State career per cbssports.com:

Youboty enrolled at Ohio State during the 2003 Winter Quarter, participating in spring drills. He played in twelve games behind Chris Gamble as a true freshman that year, producing 14 tackles (13 solos). He started three games at weak-side cornerback and six more on the strong side as a sophomore in 2004. Youboty tied for the Big Ten Conference lead with four interceptions and also deflected fourteen passes. He ranked fifth on the squad with 61 tackles (47 solos), including a sack and three stops for losses.


Youboty was awarded first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2005. He helped the team rank fifth nationally in total defense (281.33 ypg) and scoring defense (15.25 ppg) while coming up with 56 tackles (43 solos), ranking fourth on the team. He added one sack, six stops behind the line of scrimmage and a fumble recovery. He blocked a kick, intercepted one pass and deflected nine others.

In 36 games at Ohio State, Youboty started 22 times. He was in on 131 tackles (103 solos) with two sacks for minus-8 yards and nine stops for losses of 22 yards. He recovered a fumble and blocked one kick while deflecting 23 passes. He gained 79 yards on five interception returns and also had a 2-yard punt return.

Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide, cbssports.com and Wikipedia

The Game.

116 days until The Game.

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