L’Christian “Blue” Smith is no longer an Ohio State Buckeye.
Coach Ryan Day confirmed the redshirt freshman receiver from Wayne High School has left the team one day after multiple reports indicated as much.
“He has voluntarily left the program,” Day said Saturday. “We’re gonna support him. We’re gonna keep him on scholarship through the end of semester and give him all the resources he needs moving forward and support him moving forward.”
He did not offer any more details.
Smith, who played sparingly last season and took advantage of a new rule allowing players to participate in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility, said in January he had endured some ups and downs in his time in Columbus but felt like he finished his first season on a high note.
“When I first got here, I wanted to go home and I was upset all the time,” Smith said in the Ohio State locker room after the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl. “Because you’re The Man in high school, and then you come up here and you’ve gotta start over again, so it was a big adjustment for me.”
He credited fellow Wayne grad Robert Landers, a senior defensive tackle, with giving him perspective.
“He just sat me down and said everybody goes through the same stuff you’re going through,” Smith recalled. “You’ve just got to get through it. Freshman year is always the hardest year.”
READ MORE: Smith describes first season in Columbus
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is part of a crowded position group that lost three senior standouts but returns veterans K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Binjimin Victor and added five-star freshman Garrett Wilson from Austin, Texas, as an early enrollee.
Despite the heavy competition, Smith said in January he was looking forward to winning a spot in the rotation.
“I was very, very raw when I got here from high school, so it was just about fine-tuning everything,” he said, including his speed and his ability to run pass routes. “Everything had to be refined, so it was a really big adjustment.
“Next year I’m going to hopefully keep progressing and just keep getting better. I’m in the right spot right now so hopefully I can just keep going.”
Smith was a four-star recruit and the No. 126 player in the country according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
He starred in football and basketball at Wayne, which has a long history of sending stars to Ohio State.
With Landers having one more year of eligibility, a Warrior will be on the Buckeyes roster for the 20th consecutive season in 2019.
Landers is a likely captain this fall after playing extensively the last three seasons on the defensive line.
He was spotted on crutches early in spring practice, and Day said the medical staff is being cautious with him as he deals with shoulder, back and knee ailments.
“He’s kind of day to day,” Day said. “He’s got a few things. He’s been around and played a lot of football, so we’re just being smart with him right now.”
Smith’s departure leaves six local players on the Ohio State roster this spring: Landers, senior Derrick Malone (tight end, Thurgood Marshall), sophomore Josh Myers (offensive lineman, Miamisburg), redshirt freshmen Ben Schmiesing (linebacker, Piqua) and Zaid Hamdan (defensive lineman, Mason) and true freshman Alec Koch (receiver, Lebanon).
Schmiesing was the subject of praise Thursday from linebackers coach Al Washington, and he was one of three linebackers to have the black stripe removed from his helmet, signifying he is a full member of the team.
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