Wisconsin senior cornerback Devin Smith is out for the remainder of the season and will seek a medical redshirt after undergoing surgery on a left foot injury.
University of Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced Tuesday over the Big Ten telephone conference that the extent of Smith’s injury was uncertain prior to undergoing the procedure Monday.
“They weren’t able to basically tell 100 percent for sure until they got in there, but [Smith has] had a procedure that will keep him out from anywhere from four to six weeks. So he won’t be with us for the rest of the season,” Bielema said.
Having played as a freshman, Smith never utilized a redshirt year and intends to receive a medical clearance to return for the 2012 season as a redshirt senior.
“Fortunately for us, Devin is a kid that played right away as a freshman, so we’ll be able to file the appropriate paperwork and he’ll get a redshirt out of this season and be able to join us again next year for a second senior season,” Bielema said.
Smith limped off the field against Oregon State midway through the first quarter and reappeared on the sidelines in crutches later in the game.
Through his short-lived 2011 season, Smith accumulated seven tackles and defended two passes as a starting cornerback opposite Antonio Fenelus. Smith also started all 13 games and intercepted two passes in 2009, but lost the job in 2010 to Niles Brinkley.
Next in line is redshirt junior Marcus Cromartie, who challenged Smith for the starting spot over fall camp and played well enough to earn “co-starter” status along with Smith on the depth chart.
Smith, however, remained the de facto starter by appearing in Wisconsin’s base defense.
Against Oregon State, Cromartie filled in nicely for Smith, finishing third on the day for the Badgers with seven tackles.
However, depth at cornerback could now be a bit of a concern for Wisconsin, as game experience is sparse. After Cromartie on the depth chart are freshmen Peniel Jean, who played sparingly versus Oregon State, and Darius Hillary, who did not see the field.
Over the course of fall camp, Bielema singled out Hillary several times as one of the freshmen on the team that could expect playing time this season. During his press conference on Monday, Bielema again mentioned Hillary’s progress as well as that of another freshman defensive back: Devin Gaulden.
“But with these practices, we’ve seen these freshmen get really good,” Bielema said. “So I’m excited about Darius Hillary and Devin Gaulden.”