Michael Smith, a record-setting receiver at Kansas State who went on to earn a reputation as one of the best recruiters in college football, has been named Arkansas’ wide receivers coach, head coach Bret Bielema announced Thursday (Jan. 17).
“During my two seasons at Kansas State, I learned that Michael Smith is one of the masters of the fundamentals of the game,” Bielema said in the statement issued Thursday evening. “As a player, he was part of building the foundation at Kansas State and as a coach he played an instrumental part in one of the greatest turnarounds for a program in the history of college football. He has a proven track record of leading his student-athletes to reach their full potential. He is also a tremendous recruiter who has very strong ties in his hometown of New Orleans. When I came to Arkansas, I said I wanted to assemble a staff second to none. The administration has shown tremendous support of that goal and Michael Smith completes the group in exciting fashion. Our staff is made up of individuals who have earned respect within the profession and should generate excitement for our program.”
Smith, who was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 Conference in 2012 by Rivals, spent the first 11 years of his coaching career at Kansas State and was the running backs coach at Rice in 2006 before moving to Arizona for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, coaching running backs his first season before moving to coach inside receivers.
He returned to Kansas State in 2009 as the Wildcats’ wide receivers coach.
The 2012 season saw Kansas State capture their second Big 12 title and play in the Fiesta Bowl as the Wildcats posted an 11-2 record and finished the year ranked No. 12 in the AP poll.
In 2010, Smith tutored a wide receiver group that featured numerous players stepping up and contributing throughout a season that saw several injuries at the position. Aubrey Quarles provided the most consistency throughout 2010 en route to All-Big 12 honors, while newcomers Tramaine Thompson, Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper all proved they had playmaking abilities.
Smith helped lead Arizona to a 2008 Las Vegas Bowl win over BYU while he tutored Mike Thomas, who became the Pac-10 career receptions record holder with 259 grabs. In 2007, Smith coached true freshman tailback Nic Grigsby to a 700-yard performance in seven starts, emerging from reserve to full-time duty.
At Rice, Smith helped the Owls to a 7-6 record in 2006, advancing to their first bowl game in 45 seasons. He coached senior Quinton Smith to 1,096 yards in 2006, making him only the sixth Owls' running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
The 1995 Kansas State graduate has coached the top three career rushing leaders in Kansas State history in Darren Sproles, Eric Hickson and Mike Lawrence.
After spending the 1992 season in the NFL with Kansas City, Smith returned to Kansas State as a student assistant. As a graduate assistant in 1995 and 1996, Smith assisted Greg Peterson with the receivers and helped tutor wideouts Kevin Lockett and Mitch Running, who became just the fifth receiving tandem in Big Eight history to snag at least 50 passes in the same season.
In nine seasons as running backs coach, Smith coached seven former backs in the NFL, including David Allen (Jacksonville and St. Louis), Rock Cartwright (Washington), Thomas Clayton (New England), Joe Hall (Kansas City), Frank Murphy (Chicago, Tampa Bay, Houston and Miami), Scobey (Arizona) and Sproles (San Diego).
During his playing career, Smith was one the Big Eight's all-time great receivers. He concluded his playing career as the Big Eight's second-leading receiver with 179 receptions, trailing just All-American Hart Lee Dykes. The total of 179 catches ranked 40th in NCAA history at the time.
Smith was named third-team All-American in 1991, honorable mention All-American in 1989 and a two-time All-Big Eight selection (1989 and 1991). His career total of 2,457 receiving yards was third-best in Big Eight history behind Dykes and 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers.
Smith graduated from Kansas State with a bachelor’s degree in social science. He is married to the former Karyn Tieken. Smith has four children: Kylie, Kenzie, Kason and Kamryn.