MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota senior running back Rodney Smith will miss the remainder of the season because of an injury to his left knee, removing the most accomplished player from an inexperienced offense.

Smith was hurt on the third play of the game on Saturday night against Fresno State, at the end of an 11-yard gain on a screen pass. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck announced the news on Monday and said the university will request a medical redshirt and a sixth year of eligibility in 2019 for Smith, who already has his undergraduate degree in human development and youth studies.

Already seventh in program history with 2,959 career rushing yards, Smith was also the team's primary kickoff returner. Tied for ninth all-time for Minnesota with 21 career rushing touchdowns, Smith won the team's Bronko Nagurski Award for the most valuable player in both 2016 and 2017.

The soft-spoken and quick-to-smile Smith, a native of the Atlanta area, had taken on an increased leadership role this fall with a true freshman walk-on starting at quarterback (Zack Annexstad) and two freshmen starting at wide receiver (Rashod Bateman and Demetrius Douglas). Fleck even called Smith one of the team's most improved players, despite his already decorated resume.

The Gophers (2-0) host Miami of Ohio this weekend, before traveling to Maryland for their Big Ten opener on Sept. 22. Redshirt freshman Mohamed Ibrahim, who started the season as Smith's backup, hurt his left leg injury in the opener and did not play against Fresno State. True freshman Bryce Williams took over as the lead ball-carrier and had 87 yards on 25 attempts.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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