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September 5, 2007

More controversy for running back Smith

MADISON, Wis.-At a point in his career where it appeared sophomore running back Lance Smith was finally headed in the right direction, University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and Dean of Students Lori Berquam announced Wednesday that Smith will not travel or compete in each of the Badgers' five road games, starting with Saturday's game at UNLV, according to a UW press release this afternoon.

In July, Smith was arrested following an incident with his girlfriend. The two allegedly got into a dispute over cab fare. Smith allegedly would not let her out of her North Randall apartment and then pushed her down at a nearby convenient store. According to the story, he then picked up a $20 bill, that she was to get change for, and took her shoes.

Smith entered a not guilty plea on misdemeanor charges of battery and disorderly conduct and is to appear in court Oct. 23. He was suspended for violating the UW athletic department's student-athlete discipline policy days after the arrest, but was reinstated Aug. 6, one day before fall camp opened last month.

"I first want to apologize to my girlfriend, my coaches, my teammates, our fans and the university community. My actions did not measure up to the standards we have here at Wisconsin," Smith said in a UW release after the alleged incident. "I have met with Coach Bielema and, at his direction, I will perform community service, as well as take counseling as needed.

"My goal from this point forward is to conduct myself in a manner that I can be proud of. I am appreciative of the opportunity I have here and I intend to make the most of it."

There were signs during camp that may have hinted at this recent news. During the last week the media was available to attend practice, Smith saw limited carries, as freshmen Zach Brown saw the bulk of the snaps as the backup to starter P.J. Hill.

Still, he rushed 11 times for 60 yards in a 42-21 win over Washington State Saturday, and displayed good quickness and speed in the season opener, but still lacked the basic fundamentals, an issue that has plagued him throughout his career.

"When he has the ball in his hands he is very exciting, although he doesn't always hit the correct running lane or do the proper footwork," running backs coach John Settle said Tuesday night. "He's not going to grade well every week because he is not attention to detail oriented."

Now, UW will turn to Brown and highly touted freshmen running back John Clay to provide relief for Hill, the 2006 Big Ten Freshmen of the Year. Brown carried the ball six times against the Cougars, while Clay, who missed the majority of camp while awaiting academic clearance form the NCAA Clearinghouse, did not see action.

However, according to Settle, Clay took extended reps during Sunday's evening practice, and has been looking at his playbook more frequently.

"He looked like a totally different guy, it looked like he spent Saturday night with his playbook or something," Settle said.

He also stated that junior fullback Bill Rentmeester could fill in if needed, as he has taken snaps at tailback from time to time.

Stay tuned to BadgerBlitz.com for up to the minute coverage of Smith's situation as more news becomes available


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