Fayetteville, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema completed his staff Thursday night hiring Kansas State wide receivers coach Michael Smith to fill the same role for the Razorbacks. Smith’s hiring fills a vacancy left by George McDonald who turned in his resignation earlier this week to take the offensive coordinator position at Syracuse.
Smith is reunited with Bielema after the two worked together under Bill Snyder on Kansas State’s staff during the 2002 and 2003 seasons; Bielema as defensive coordinator and Smith as wide receivers coach. Snyder and Bielema are linked by Iowa Hawkeyes legendary coach Hayden Fry. Snyder was the offensive coordinator for Fry from 1979 through 1988 in Iowa City while Bielema was a defensive line standout for the Hawkeyes playing from 1989-1992.
For Arkansas fans unfamiliar with Smith the first notable characteristic brought up about the Razorbacks wide receiver coach are his recruiting abilities. Smith was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 by Rivals in 2012.
The honor could be a tongue-and-cheek statement as there are only 10 teams in the Big 12. Looking deeper, Smith is recognized as the best recruiter on a staff that has guided the Wildcats to back-to-back AP Top 25 finishes; No. 15 in 2011 and No. 12 in 2012.
Smith, a Kansas State alum, finished his college career as one of the most prolific Big Eight, now Big 12, wide receivers ever. He hauled in 179 passes for 2,457 yards during his career. The reception total was second on the Big Eight Conference’s all-time career list while his yardage total was third best.
During the 1989 and 1991 seasons, Smith was named as an All Big Eight performer earning honorable mention All-American honors in 1989 and listed as a third-team All-American in 1991.
A footnote to college football history, all of Smith’s accomplishments was done during a time when the Big Eight was known more for their power running teams with stalwarts like Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas sending top running back after top running back to the NFL than any hint of a passing attack. Since then the Big 12 has morphed into a pass happy offensive conference.
After a year as a player with the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith returned to the college ranks to begin his coaching career. From 1993-2005 Smith served on Snyder’s staff primarily as a running backs coach. When Snyder retired at the end of the 2005 season, Smith became the running backs coach at Rice in 2006, was then hired as the running backs coach at University of Arizona during the 2007 season before becoming the team’s inside receivers coach in 2008.
When Snyder came out of retirement in 2009 to turn around the once proud Kansas State football program Smith was a must have as the Wildcats wide receivers coach.
Some of Smith’s marquee players he coached include:
Tyler Lockett (All-American)
Aubrey Quarles (All Big Ten)
Brandon Banks (All-American)
Mike Thomas (All Pac-12)
Darren Sproles (All-American, 5th in 2003 Heisman voting)