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Auburn running back Eric Smith is granted youthful offender status on Aug. 21 third-degree assault charge

Auburn running back Eric Smith was granted youthful offender status last week on a charge of third-degree assault stemming from an Aug. 21 incident outside of an area hotel, an Auburn court clerk confirmed Monday.

Smith applied for the status Oct. 20. It effectively seals the case from the public, much like a juvenile file.

Youthful offender status is generally granted in Alabama to people under the age of 21 who have little or no criminal history. If the offender meets certain requirements set by the court, charges can be dismissed.

The 19-year-old Smith was arrested in the parking lot of the Lexington Hotel in the early morning hours of Aug. 21 after police say they saw him punch another Auburn student, Decari Jenkins, in the back of the head.

Smith was originally arrested for disorderly conduct but surrendered to police again days later after charges were upgraded to third-degree assault.

On Aug. 31, Smith filed a harassment claim against Jenkins, alleging that Jenkins had punched him earlier in the night. Those charges have been dropped, the clerk said.

Smith, a sophomore from Seffner, Fla., was suspended by Auburn coach Gene Chizik for 2½ weeks after the incident. The running back missed the season opener but has played in every game since, starting four times at H-back. He has 10 carries for 55 yards and 12 catches for 174 yards.

Smith has not been made available to reporters this season despite repeated requests. Chizik has been hesitant to comment specifically on Smith’s situation.

“He loves football and he loves Auburn,” Chizik said Oct. 4. “As I said, he’ll be a better Auburn man if you see him back and he’s a better Auburn man than he was then. I still believe that.”

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