Smith narrowed his college choices to Miami, USC, UCLA, and Ohio State. In his two seasons with the Buckeyes (1990, 1992), Smith ran for a total of 1,945 yards, leading the team both years. As a freshman in 1990, he had a personal-best 1,126 yards (88.4 yards per game), and rushed for 18 touchdowns. Smith sat out the 1991 football season, switching to a track and field scholarship, and posted a personal-best time of 10.24 seconds in the 100 meters for the Buckeyes. He seriously considered transferring to either USC or Stanford in the Pac-10 to play football; Ohio State coach John Cooper had kept the door open for Smith to return to the Buckeyes' football team, and he did in 1992.