COLUMBUS- Sophomore defensive end Tyreke Smith is expected to have a big impact on the Buckeye defense this season. But getting to this point required him to take care of an injury that he had been dealing with since high school.
Smith had surgery on his groin around 13 weeks ago. The pain in his groin had bothered him since his high school playing days. But up until 13 weeks ago, he was just fine playing through the pain.
“Yeah, it had been lingering thing,” Smith said. “I got a high pain tolerance. I just thought I was being a little baby. I tried to keep going through it, tried to keep playing through it. I thought my leg was just hurting but I finally told the doctor we need to do something about it.”
Smith described the injury as something that would come and go. But it wasn’t until he felt that something was really messed up that he considered having someone taking a look at it.
“It was weird because some days I felt like it went away. And then some days it just came in just popped up and appeared. And it would happen since high school. That’s why I really hadn’t harped on it,” Smith said.
“One practice this summer, I did something like a move or something like that. I was like dang this isn’t feeling right for me so I think I need to get it checked out.”
Recovering from this surgery led to Smith not seeing the field at all in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. He was one of the three defensive linemen who were unable to play in that game. Although he felt like he was ready to get back out there, the coaching staff felt better about waiting to play Smith until week two.
“It was definitely hard. When I went to through getting the surgery, it was hard, but I knew Coach [Larry Johnson] had a plan,” Smith said. “I was ready to play, but just Coach didn’t want to play me in that game. He wanted to make sure I was just fully 100 percent.”
Once Smith was 100 percent healed, he played week two against Cincinnati and rotated in for junior defensive end Chase Young. In that game, Smith also recorded his first career sack.
The coaching staff believed in him even when he was playing with an injured groin. But now that he is back to being healthy, there are even higher expectations for his level of play this season.
“My first step is faster. I think I got more of a last step, I can get it across the line of scrimmage. And I think I’m more of a force,” Smith said. “I think getting the surgery and getting that fixed just really helped me a lot because I feel like I’m faster. I got more strength in my leg.”