RB Ian Smart scored an incredible 95 touchdowns during his college career at C.W. Post
In the two months that running back Ian Smart has spent on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad, he has finished nearly every practice by staying late and fielding punts from the 'Jugs' gun, along with a handful of other hopefuls.
Now Smart might get a chance to try his hand in a regular-season game. He has cleared the most important hurdle: He is on the active, 53-man roster. The Bucs signed the first-year running back off their practice squad on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay had an open roster spot due to Anthony McFarland's trip to injured reserve. The sixth-year defensive tackle will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right triceps tendon.
The Bucs did at least find a way to fill in for McFarland on the practice field, signing first-year defensive tackle Keith Wright to the practice squad. He takes the spot vacated by Smart on that eight-man unit.
Wright originally entered the league as a sixth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans (214th selection overall) in 2003. He spent an early portion of his rookie season on the Texans' practice squad before spending the majority of that campaign on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad. This season, Wright made the 53-man roster but did not appear in a game before being waived on November 1. The 6-2, 275-pound Wright played his college ball at Missouri and hails from Sacramento, California.
Smart is best known for his collegiate feat of scoring an all-time NCAA-record 95 touchdowns at C.W. Post. As a senior in 2002, he rushed for 2,023 yards and 30 touchdowns. Despite the diminished competition he faced at C.W. Post, Smart's exploits earned him a spot in camp with the New York Jets in 2003 and 2004, plus a stint in the NFL Europe League this past spring. Now he's getting a shot at the next level. His next hurdle: Avoiding the eight-man deactivation list on game day and suiting up for some action.
Smart is a versatile player who can help the Bucs in more ways than one. The running back corps has been short a man since Jamel White was released last week to accommodate the arrival of safety Dexter Jackson. Smart, who is small (5-8, 192) but quick could help as a change-of-pace or third-down back, as he is also adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. He is also capable of returning both punts and kickoffs, should the Bucs choose to spell Joey Galloway or Torrie Cox in those roles.
Smart first joined the Bucs' practice squad on September 22, three weeks after he was waived by the Jets.
The Bucs announced last Thursday that McFarland was finished for the season, after further examinations of his triceps injury revealed its serious nature. He did not officially go to injured reserve until Wednesday, however, after being deactivated for the past two games. McFarland suffered the injury early in the Bucs' win over Kansas City on November 7.
McFarland finishes his season with 28 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He started all eight games in which he played.