Michael Smith leaving K-State for Arkansas

By Joshua Kinder

Kansas State has lost another assistant football coach.

Longtime assistant and former Wildcat receiver Michael Smith is the second coach to leave Bill Snyder’s staff in the last five days, following Joe Bob Clements’ departure for Oklahoma State.

Smith, who coached receivers at K-State, is joining new coach Brett Bielema at Arkansas. Bielema and Smith worked together under Snyder from 2002-03.

“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 a press release Thursday night. “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.”

Smith just completed his 16th year on Snyder’s staff — a coaching career that followed a decorated playing career for K-State where he finished as the Big Eight’s second-leading receiver with 179 receptions. He was a third-team All-American in 1991, an honorable mention All-American in 1989 and a two-time All-Big Eight pick both years.

As a coach, Smith worked with the receivers the past four seasons and running backs before that, including Darren Sproles, Josh Scobey, Eric Hickson and Mike Lawrence. Smith coached running backs at Rice in 2006 and then running backs and receivers at Arizona from 2007-08 during Snyder’s retirement.

But perhaps Smith’s best asset to K-State was the work he did as a recruiter. Just last year Rivals.com named the 42-year-old coach one of the Top 10 best recruiters in the Big 12. Considering that, Smith’s departure, as well as the loss of Clements, comes just two weeks before national signing day.

It’s also worth noting that Smith was placed on restrictions this past spring for improper contact with recruits. K-State President Kirk Schulz told The Mercury last May that Smith was limited in his ability to make off-campus contact with recruits for a period of one month. Schulz said the violations leading to the restriction were discovered internally and were reported to the NCAA, along with the university’s response.

At the time, no other coach was identified by the university as being placed on restrictions or suspension.

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