“Thanks for everything you have done for Miami during your time here and congrats on a great career,” Miami Athletics Director David Sayler posted in response. “Any school would be lucky to have you in their program.”
While Smith divulged his plan, teammates such as wide receiver Gage Larvadain, quarterback Brett Gabbert, tight end Jack Coldiron and linebacker Matt Salopek — the MAC’s Defensive Player of the Year — announced their intentions to return for the 2024 season.
“5 ain’t going nowhere,” Gabbert posted, referring to his uniform number. “What did you think? I wasn’t going to come back? What often feels like the end, is often the beginning. Nothing worth having comes easy, but there’s no place l’d rather be and no people I’d rather do it with. I’ll see you with my brothers on 8/31/24. Love & Honor,
“They say it’s harder to do it twice,” Larvadain said. “I guess we’ll find out. I’m back.”
“I’d like to personally thank the entire staff for their constant support and guidance, my teammates for their incredible hard work, this win would not be possible without each and every one of them,” Salopek said. “Thank you to the fans for fueling us through this journey, and my family for being my rock and supporting me through thick and thin. With all of that being said. I am happy to announce that I will be returning for my final season.
“I hope we keep the band together for one more year,” coach Chuck Martin said on Monday during the program’s weekly media session. “I know the kids love it here. They would not regret staying at Miami.”
Martin was among the 12 finalists announced on Tuesday for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America. He is the only MAC coach among the finalists. The recipient is scheduled to be announced on Dec. 20.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Smith led Miami with 99 net rushing yards in 21 carries and was 6-of-16 for 109 yards while passing in the RedHawks’ 23-14 win over Toledo in Saturday’s MAC-championship game win over Toledo at Ford Field in Detroit.
The Lexington, South Carolina, native saw action in 10 games during the 2023 regular season, gaining 280 net yards on 75 carries and going 48-of-96 for 638 yards with two touchdowns, mostly after Gabbert suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week Eight against Toledo.
Smith played in 10 games and started nine in 2022 while Gabbert was recovering from a separate injury and became the first player in program history to lead the team in rushing and passing in the same season. He rushed for 553 yards and six touchdowns and threw for 1,299 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Miami (11-2) faces Appalachian State (8-5) on Dec. 16 in the Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl in Orlando. Smith’s backup on the Miami depth chart is Henry Hesson, a 6-2, 197-pound sophomore from Plainfield, Ill. Hesson’s only experience is two appearances last season.
Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 16
Miami vs. Appalachian State, 3:30 p.m., ABC, 980, 1410