Occasionally, a player who is ready to play ends up redshirting for one reason for another. This is almost never a bad decision. Oftentimes, a player who isn't ready ends up playing instead of redshirting. That has happened far too often over the past decade or so at Virginia. The current roster is full of these players. Trent Corney is one who comes to mind. Corney is a beast of an athlete who has played only a handful of plays in his 2 years. He was raw when he came in and he's still raw. A redshirt year was necessary to get him coached up to a point where he was really ready to contribute to the team.
No redshirting decision that we've seen was as egregious as the one to play LaChaston Smith. If a player burns his redshirt for a handful of special teams plays each game over the course of the season, that's a shame because there is almost definitely somebody else who could provide the same level of production. But that least the player is getting extended experience on the field against other FBS talent.
Smith played in 1 game. He had 10 carries for 44 yards. Against VMI. VMI was an FCS team. A bad FCS team. A bad FCS that the Hoos demolished by the score of 41-0. (We'll just forget about that first quarter.) Maybe another RB on the Hoos roster wouldn't have picked up 44 yards on those 10 carries. Obviously, the coaching staff didn't want to risk injury to somebody like Kevin Parks on meaningless plays late in a blowout. Maybe Daniel Hamm, who rushed for 136 in that contest, was tired and couldn't go. There had to be somebody on the roster who could've taken those snaps. Even a player who wasn't normally a RB could've taken those plays.
Wasting an entire season of a promising career for 10 carries near the end of a meaningless game against a lower tier opponent is unforgivable. If Smith had continued to play over the course of the year, providing a "big-back" alternative to Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd, it would've been OK. Even if he was only getting a few short yardage plays per game, at least he'd be on the field. His entire season was wasted for nothing.
If Mike London had made no other mistakes all season, this alone might be enough to call the season a failure. With all the other mistakes that were made, and the 2-10 record, this becomes merely the icing on the cake. Hopefully, Smith can redshirt this season, since he really isn't needed with 2 senior RBs and Smoke (and maybe Hamm) ahead of him on the depth chart. I really hope that LaChaston Smith doesn't remember September 21st 2013 as the day his college football career fell apart.