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Catching Up With Former Utes: Alex Smith

Smith’s career at the University of Utah and in the NFL are stories of determination and dedication to the sport he loves.
Keith Allison
Alex Smith, who used to play for the Utes, playing for the Washington Commanders against the Atlanta Falcons on November 4, 2018 (Courtesy of Keith Allison via Wikimedia)


Alex Smith is likely the first name that comes to people’s minds when thinking of famous Utah football players. Smith’s career at the University of Utah and in the NFL are stories of determination and dedication to the sport he loves.


Smith didn’t see a lot of playing time his freshman year, with only two completions and four yards. In his sophomore year, Smith stepped into the spotlight. He recorded 2247 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Once again, Smith took another jump in his junior year, going for 2952 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2004. Smith’s staggering season was good for the 2004 MWC Offensive Player of The Year, finishing fourth in 2004 Heisman voting, and numerous Mountain West Conference records.

While Utah fans would want Smith to stay at the U another year, his next obvious step was the NFL. Smith declared for the 2005 NFL Draft and was highly scouted from the start. Smith was the first overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers. Later that year, Andrew Bogut left the U for the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick, making Utah the only school to have the number one pick in the NFL and NBA in the same year.

Smith went 21-1 as a starter over two years, leading the Utes to victories in the Liberty Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. This includes the undefeated season in 2004, where Utah went 12-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl.


Smith started his career in 2005 with the 49ers and ended it in 2020 with the Washington Football Team, who are now called the Washington Commanders. Between then, Smith put together 35,650 yards, 3,250 completions and 199 touchdowns.

Perhaps Smith’s best season came in 2017 with the Kansas City Chiefs, with career highs in yards, completions, and touchdowns. Smith recorded 4,042 yards, 341 completions and 26 touchdowns.

Smith had a major injury during the 2018 season. Playing on the Washington Commanders, Smith broke his fibula and tibia in the third quarter against the Houston Texans.

The injury was so severe, Smith battled life-threatening sepsis just days after the injury, with amputation being considered. Smith missed the entire 2019 season but returned in 2020. Smith not only played eight games of the season, but started in six of them.

Nobody thought Smith would return to the field, much less start six games. With 1,582 yards, 168 completions and six touchdowns, Smith won the 2020 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Smith got 49 of 50 votes for the award, and for good reason. Smith didn’t let his injury win, battling it each and every day. An inspiration to fans across the world, Smith’s comeback was clearly the toughest in recent NFL history.

Smith ended his career with three Pro Bowl appearances, in 2013, 2016 and 2017. He also finished 30th in career passing yards, 34th in career pass completion percentage and 49th in career passing touchdowns.

After all of the setbacks, Smith cemented his name as one of the greats. He now provides foster children with the tools they need to transition to adulthood through the Alex Smith Foundation. Smith has been an inspiration around the nation — on and off the field.


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About the Contributor
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a junior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.

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