An Appreciation: RB Charles Scott and RB Michael Smith

Sixth in a series on seniors leaving the SEC.

The original plan for this was to do a separate post each for Charles Scott and Michael Smith. But the more your humble correspondent looked at the running backs for LSU and Arkansas, respectively, the less sense it made to do that. After all, the two players' careers are eerily similar: Progress up the depth chart, breakout 2008 season, a 2009 that never met its potential because of injury.

APPRECIATIONS 2009
QB Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee)
RB Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State)
WR Brandon LaFell (LSU)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
LB Eric Norwood (South Carolina)

A year ago, it would have seemed slightly insane to suggest that neither Scott nor Smith -- Nos. 2 and 3 in the league in total rushing yardage in 2008 -- would have ended up in the Top 5 this year. Both had rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2008 despite not matching their career per-carry average.

But the parallels had started before then. In each case, they had succeeded fairly successful backs. Scott came after Jacob Hester, who rushed for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns during LSU's 2007 national championship season; Smith took the reins after Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

In 2009, Smith's bad luck started sooner, with a hamstring injury that kept him out of games against Florida and Eastern Michigan before Arkansas finally announced ahead of the Mississippi State game that Smith's season was over. Even when he was playing, Smith clearly wasn't himself: six carries for 35 yards at Ole Miss, nine carries for 15 yards against South Carolina and six carries for 21 yards against Troy.

Scott's season ended more suddenly, on a broken collarbone against Alabama. He was having a slightly better season, though matchups with Mississippi State and Auburn didn't go well, and had an outside chance at reaching 1,000 yards again had he played in the Tigers' remaining four games.

He didn't, of course, which is one reason why Scott and Smith will both be tied together in the minds of some fans. They both had one magical season, which is more than most college football players get. But we're left wondering what it might have been like had either of them had another.

Charles Scott, 2006-09 Charles Scott, 2008
G ATT YDS AVG TD G ATT YDS AVG TD
43 424 2,317 5.5 32 13 217 1,174 5.4 18
Michael Smith, 2006-09 Michael Smith, 2008
G ATT YDS AVG TD G ATT YDS AVG TD
39 359 2,018 5.6 16 10 207 1,072 5.2 8
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