FAYETTEVILLE - 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.
"During my two seasons at Kansas State, I learned that Michael Smith is one of the masters of the fundamentals of the game," Coach Bielema said. "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. Chris Harper led the Wildcats with 58 receptions for 857 yards and three touchdowns and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. In 2011, true freshman Tyler Lockett earned All-America honors as a kick returner and made an immediate impact at the wide receiver position. He set the Big 12 and Kansas State single-season record for kickoff-return average at 35.2 yards per return.
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.
In 2009, Kansas State was led by All-American Brandon Banks, who set school and Big 12 records in kickoff returns as well as leading the squad in receptions. Banks led the Big 12 and was eighth nationally with his average of 174.8 all-purpose yards per game and ranks third in school history with 3,828 career all-purpose yards. At wide receiver, Banks also led the team in receptions (56) and receiving yards (705) and also ranks seventh in Kansas State history with 123 career receptions and ninth in career receiving yards with 1,754.
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.
Smith also directed a running back to the single-season rushing record in three of his last five seasons at Kansas State during his first tenure, including Sproles, a first team All-American. Sproles surpassed the mark during the 2003 season with 1,986 yards, which ranked as the 10th-best rushing total in NCAA history. At the conclusion of the 2003 regular season, Sproles finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting and was the runner-up for the Doak Walker Award.