Kentucky’s new wide receivers coach will be working with familiar faces this fall. Since he started playing college football, Michael Smith has had a close relationship with the Stoops family.
“I’ve known the Stoops family since I was 18 years old,” Smith said at today’s introductory press conference. “In 1989 Bob Stoops coached me at K-State…Mike and I worked together when I was at Kansas State. And you asked about Mark Stoops, I played against Mark my freshman year when he was at Iowa and I was a freshman receiver at Kansas State.”
Unfortunately, Smith never got to go one-on-one vs. Mark. “He was a deep safety. I was in the slot. He was way back. He didnt want to come up,” Smith laughed. “I will say this — they beat the crap out of us that day.”
When Smith started playing for the Wildcats, he was a walk-on for one of the worst programs in all of college football. He left Kansas State as one of the best to ever play wide receiver in the Big Eight for a program on the rise. The resurrection of Kentucky’s program mirrors what Smith witnessed at Kansas State.
“I just think the job that Mark and the staff have done in getting these guys improved every year, I think that’s something you can build on. As a player, I came from a program that was at the bottom of college football, so I’ve been trained that way, to get better everyday. What Coach Stoops and the staff has done here is that.” He added, “If you can get your team to do that and keep making progress each year, I think you’re heading in the right direction and that’s something I obviously wanted to be a part of.”
Smith has spent many years coaching with the Stoops family, but his biggest influence was Bill Snyder. The Hall of Famer gave him his first job in 1995. Smith spent the next 12 years working at his alma mater.
“Besides my dad, he’s the most influential man I’ve had in my life. I owe everything I am as a football coach to Bill Snyder.”
Before Smith got into coaching, he spent a few years in the NFL. One of his favorite teammates was the first to call him about the coaching vacancy at Kentucky, Vince Marrow.
“We were in Kansas City together. Vince was a big man like he is now,” he said with a smile. “We had a lot of fun when we were in Kansas City to gather. He was actually one of my real good friends on the team. When they traded him and let him go, I was a little upset, but it’s a business. We’ve remained friends over the years and he was actually one of the guys that called and said, ‘Smitty, we want you over here.'”
Smith couldn’t be happier to be back with Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops.
“I got such great respect for their family and their story. I’m excited to be here. Mark and I got to work together in Arizona for two years. When this opportunity came open, I reached out to him and said I’d be very interested in becoming a Kentucky Wildcat. We worked the thing out and I’m just ecstatic to be here.”