Ohio State’s Robert Smith – 1993 Minnesota Vikings
Back in the early 1990s card companies start holding rookie photo shoots to get action shots of the NFL’s newest players months before making their debut.
Upper Deck’s 1993 shot of former Ohio State running back Robert Smith showed him for the first time in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. However because of the lack of football atmosphere it also captured Smith fiercely running from a lush grassy knoll.
Injuries derailed Smith’s first four seasons in the NFL until he finally broke through in 1997 to rush for 1,266 yards, which came close to doubling his previous season high.
The 1997 season was also the start of four straight 1,000 year seasons, which included trips to the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 2000.
The final season in the streak turned out to be Smith’s final campaign as a pro. He led the NFC in leading the NFC in rushing with 1,521 yards and also notched seven touchdowns on the ground and three more as a receiver. It turned out to be the only season as a pro in which he played all 16 regular season games.
The Vikings won the NFC Central Division that season before falling to the New York Giants in the conference championship game.
Smith played just two seasons with Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes in rushing in 1990 and 1992. However he sat out the 1992 because of a dispute with the coaching staff over the lack of emphasis on his academic career. He left after the 1992 to enter the NFL Draft.