September 2, 2008

Auburn finds a 'Little Rudi' in Smith

He wears No. 32 and his size and running style are very similar to former Auburn and current NFL running back Rudi Johnson.

So it should come as no surprise that AU freshman tailback Eric Smith started drawing comparisons to Johnson during a stellar high school career at Armwood HS in Seffner, Fla.

But it was after Smith's first college scrimmage at Auburn that running backs coach Eddie Gran gave him his new moniker.

"I had a pretty good scrimmage," Smith said. "I seemed to run through a couple of people and he was calling me Little Rudi. Going through the Tiger Walk a lot of people were saying, 'Here comes Little Rudi.'

"It put a smile on my face. I was very glad to be compared to somebody on that level already."

It certainly is high praise considering Johnson earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors in his one season at Auburn in 2000 after rushing for 1,567 yards and 13 touchdowns. Johnson rushed for 5,742 yards in seven seasons with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Detroit Lions this week.

AU head coach Tommy Tuberville was certainly impressed with Smith's Auburn debut Saturday. The 5-foot-10, 232-pounder ran for 66 yards on nine carries.

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