The Senior Bowl will serve as a homecoming for Southern Miss senior running back Ito Smith and a chance to prove he's worthy of a high draft choice.
The Mobile native announced on Twitter Saturday night that he has received an invite to take part in the 2018 Senior Bowl. The game will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile and be televised by the NFL Network.
Smith is the first USM player to receive a Senior Bowl invite since Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamie Collins, a Franklin County native, did it in 2012.
Smith played high school ball at McGill-Toolen in Mobile, leading his team to the Class 6A semifinals in 2013. The last time he was the member of a team that played at Ladd-Pebeles Stadium was in 2011 when McGill-Toolen played Murphy there.
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The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Smith has had another outstanding campaign for the Golden Eagles (8-4), rushing 232 times for 1,323 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also ranks third on the team in receptions with 36 catches for 370 yards and two touchdowns.
Smith is ranked as the No. 73 overall prospect for the NFL Draft and the 10th best running back by CBSSports.com.
Smith was named First-Team All-Conference USA this season and needs just two rushing touchdowns to match Damion Fletcher's USM career record of 44. He became the program's all-time record holder for career all-purpose yardage this season with 6,357 yards.
Smith has 804 career carries for 4,444 yards and 42 touchdowns. With 136 catches for 1,420 yards and seven touchdowns, he is just the 10th player in FBS history to reach 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his career.
Mississippi State offensive tackle Martinas Rankin is the only other Magnolia State player who has accepted an invite to the 2018 Senior Bowl.
Southern Miss is preparing to take on Florida State (6-6) in the Independence Bowl. The two teams will kick it off at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 27 in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Who: Southern Miss vs. Florida State
When: 12:30 p.m., Dec. 27
Where: Shreveport, Louisiana