MOBILE, AL (WDAM) - For four years, Southern Miss fans have known No. 25 as Ito Smith. The running back was often called "The Judge," laying down the law on the football field.
While USM fans have grown accustomed to hearing, 'Touchdown Ito,' some might be interested to learn that his given name is Romerius Dejuante Smith.
"I was born in 1995, so it was during the OJ Simpson trial," Smith said. "[My four-year-old cousin] was watching the trial with her grandmother and when I was born she came to the hospital and was like, 'Hey he looks like that judge off TV.' So Judge Ito, that's how I got the name. It stuck."
Ito's name was thrown around quite a bit during Senior bowl week, which concluded with the 69th annual game on Saturday.
For the first time since 2012, Southern Miss was represented at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Smith carried the ball nine times for 35 yards and a 2-point conversion in front of over 50 hometown fans.
Smith grew up in Mobile and played football just a mile away from the senior bowl site at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Throughout high school and his time at Southern Miss, Smith has never allowed his 5-foot-9-inch frame to hold him back. Several of the some-25 NFL teams that Smith met with aren't concerned about his size either.
"You can measure size, you can't measure heart," Smith said. "I talked to a couple scouts, they said they didn't care about size. They like what I bring to the table. I'm an open-field guy, I can make guys miss, catch out the backfield, run, block. There's a lot of scouts that love me."
The former Golden Eagle hopes to earn an NFL combine invite in February. If that isn't in the cards, Smith looks forward to returning to Southern Miss on March 29 for Pro Day.
As Smith takes the next step in his football career, it's impossible to forget his days in the black and gold. Smith is just the tenth player in NCAA history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.
USM bids adieu to its leader in career all-purpose yards (6,512) and second-leading rusher (4,538 yards).
"Ito is a special, special football player," said USM head coach Jay Hopson following the Golden Eagles' final 2017 game in the Independence Bowl. "It's kind of Barry Sanderish. He finds ways to make plays that aren't even there. You don't have to worry about him, he's coming to war."
"I'm just [going to] miss the guys," Smith said. "Miss all my teammates, the locker room. Just going out every Saturday, going to war with them. Just miss the fun times in the locker room, really."