Ohio State could see a familiar face in uniform when the University of Cincinnati football team comes to town Sept. 7.
L'Christian "Blue" Smith, a receiver from Wayne High School who transferred from OSU to UC in late spring, has been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Smith took a redshirt for his first year in campus, which he said got off to a slow start last summer.
“I was very, very raw when I got here from high school, so it was just about fine-tuning everything,” he said in January, including his speed and his ability to run pass routes. “Everything had to be refined, so it was a really big adjustment.”
In March, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Smith had voluntarily left the program, and Smith announced in May he would join a Cincinnati roster that includes 16 area players, including Justin Harris, a freshman defensive back from Wayne.
Speaking to reporters at UC’s training camp in West Harrison, Ind., Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell indicated his former school supported Smith’s appeal for immediate eligibility.
“I'm happy for what Ohio State did for us and for Blue, really trying to help him out and make this possible,” said Fickell, a former Buckeye defensive lineman and assistant coach.
The coach referenced mental health being a factor in Smith’s decision to transfer but did not get into specifics.
“That’s a part of it,” he said. “Any time these guys are leaving and transferring, it’s not because they can’t play a lot of times. There’s a lot of other situations in there that are reasons for guys.”
A team spokesman said Fickell is not making freshmen and newcomers available for interviews at this point in the preseason.
Smith was a multi-sport standout at Wayne, where he was a four-star recruit and the No. 126 player in the country according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
He caught 54 passes for 869 yards and nine touchdowns for the Warriors as a senior on the gridiron and averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game on the hardwood.
Other Bearcats from the area are Tavion Thomas (Dunbar), Leonard Taylor (Springfield), Cole Smith (Middletown), Ryan Montgomery (Franklin), Tyler Inloes (Lebanon), Michael Kopaygorodsky (Mason), Will Adams (Mason), Jake Tewart (Lebanon), Malik Vann (Fairfield), Darius Harper (Springfield), Cody Lamb (Miamisburg), Jonathan Allen (Dunbar), Jack Campbell (Bellbrook) and Bryant Johnson II (Butler).