Ohio State senior Devin Smith came to a point at midseason where he briefly thought of quitting.
It was October, and the playmaking receiver wasn't getting the ball. He wasn't sure he trusted the coaching staff. He was agonizing over personal issues involving his family and girlfriend and hated being away from them.
"I felt like all the plans they had for me for this year didn't come through," Smith said Dec. 30 of Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman. "They were telling me they wanted me to be the guy. They were going to move me all over the field and get me the ball more and early on it didn't happen. It kind of made me mad because I felt I was lied to and for a while I eased myself away from the coaches and wasn't really talking to them.''
Smith said talks with his mother, Atina Smith, and father, Andre Simpson, convinced him to tough it out.
"Ever since I was younger playing football my mom told me to never quit what I started," Devin Smith said. "Those words have stayed in my head my whole life."
Smith is glad he listened. The No. 4 Buckeyes (13-1) take on No. 2 Oregon (13-1) in the championship game of the inaugural College Football Playoff Monday night in Arlington, Texas.
Personally, things couldn't be better for Smith. With his 47-yard touchdown giving Ohio State the lead for good in a 42-35 upset of No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes improved to 22-0 when Smith catches a touchdown pass.
His three-touchdown performance in a 59-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game moved Smith into second on OSU's all-time touchdown receptions list with 30.
Smith's draft stock is also rising. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Smith will be selected no later than the second round.
But his legacy and his future can wait. Smith is concentrating on helping the Buckeyes capture their first national title since 2002.
"When it's your last year, you tend to work a lot harder than you ever have," Smith said Tuesday. "Our whole senior class came together and said, 'This is it. This is our last shot to get to where we always wanted.'"