Smith to be Inducted into ETSU Hall of Fame

Smith to be Inducted into ETSU Hall of Fame

Jay Adams

Published February 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Head coach Mike Smith’s extremely successful career with the Falcons has been well documented. He’s already the winningest coach in franchise history. He’s led the team to five consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. He’s produced four playoff appearances in five years. The list goes on.

Turns out, the seeds of Smith’s football success were planted years ago, and he’s about to be honored for it. Smith will be inducted into the East Tennessee State University Athletics Hall of Fame this spring as a football student athlete.

Here’s the blurb written about Smith in the ETSU press release:

Played for the Buccaneers from 1978 to 1981, leading the team in tackles both in 1980 (120) and 1981 (186), and being named the team’s defensive MVP in both of those seasons. While he made a name for himself as a player at ETSU and played professionally in the Canadian Football League for a short time, it is Smith’s coaching career that has truly excelled. After spending time in the college ranks, Smith spent several seasons with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, serving as defensive coordinator there since 2003. He later accepted the head coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons in 2008, and was named NFL Coach of the Year after leading the Falcons into the playoffs with an 11-5 regular season record. He most recently guided the Falcons to the NFC Championship game during the 2012 season.

That’s quite a playing resume. It probably wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith honored in many more ways in future years. The induction ceremony will be held May 5.

Prior to this year’s NFC Championship game when the Falcons faced the 49ers, ETSUBucs.com spoke to some of Smith’s former teammates, who had glowing things to say about the Falcons head coach.

Mike Brown, Linebacker

“I played a few seasons with Mike. I considered Mike a man among boys and looked to him as being an extension of the coaching staff. Mike is a great guy and a class act.”

Steve Meyer, Center

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Mike Smith is his intensity. I was the starting center and he was the starting linebacker, so it suited me just fine that we didn’t have to face each other much since the first teamers didn’t go head-to-head very often in practice. Mike’s hitting ability was amazing and he was a very smart player. It should be no surprise regarding all the success Mike has brought to the Atlanta Falcons, because he has surrounded himself with great people and I’m a firm believer cream rises to the top. I’m very happy for Mike and he’s a great person.”

Barry Reed, Kicker

“I don’t know if Mike was too fond of me since collegiate and professional kickers don’t seem to be part of the team until it comes down to kicking a game winning field goal, but after last week’s win over Seattle I’m sure his feelings have changed. I’ve considered Mike one of the best linebackers to wear the Blue and Gold and the best in the Southern Conference. He was a 100-percent physical football player and almost impossible to get off the field. He was always one of the first players to arrive at practice and the last to leave. Mike was always around the defensive coaches trying to learn from them and would even give his input. He is the true definition of a football player and a coach’s dream.”

Jerry Robertson, Athletic Trainer

“Mike had the true characteristics of a student-athlete. When I say that, I mean he was a good student, well-liked on campus, and also worked hard on the field. Mike is not only a good football coach, but a better person. He’s very interested in helping others. It’s not just about winning football games for Mike, because he takes great pride in helping people. Mike knew what it meant to play with some discomfort and pain, and I don’t remember him missing a lot of practice or games. He was a physically and mentally tough linebacker. I know at times he played with discomfort and pain, but he wasn’t a training room toy. Mike wanted to play the game and play to the best of his ability. His success with the Falcons and throughout his coaching career is not a surprise. Mike always worked to be the best and gave everything he had.”

Lee Morrow, ETSU Strength & Conditioning Coach

“The first time I met Mike was when he was a captain of the 1981 football team. I was coaching at Milligan at the time, but I held a graduate assistantship here at ETSU. I was able to rub shoulders with the football coaches and they would always say Mike was a tough player and a strong leader. My first impression of him was a hardworking type of player. Mike was a regular-type person and the scenario he has achieved in his coaching career is exhilarating, because just to see a regular, hardworking individual reach the pinnacle of the NFL coaching profession is great.”

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