Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Bielema fills out UA staff
Bret Bielema completed his nine-man coaching staff on Thursday, hiring Kansas State receivers coach Michael Smith.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema closed out his staff hiring with a bang Thursday, luring Michael Smith away from his alma mater Kansas State to coach the Razorbacks’ receivers.
Smith, 42, takes the place of George McDonald, who submitted his resignation Tuesday and was announced as Syracuse’s offensive coordinator Thursday.
MICHAEL SMITH FILE
Position: Wide Receivers Coach, Arkansas
Hometown: New Orleans
College: Kansas State
Previously: Wide Receivers Coach, Kansas State
Notable: Smith finished his playing career second in receptions and third in receiving yards in the Big Eight Conference.
Smith, who was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 by Rivals. com, has spent 16 of his 19 years in coaching at Kansas State, where he was a record-breaking receiver from 1988-91. Smith worked the past four seasons for Coach Bill Snyder as Kansas State returned to national prominence in Snyder’s second stint as coach.
Smith’s first stint on Snyder’s staff in Manhattan, Kan., from 1993-2005 overlapped with Bielema’s two seasons with the Wildcats (2002-03) as defensive coordinator.
“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 university news release. “As a player, he was part of building the foundation at Kansas State.”
“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 to his hometown of New Orleans.”
Bielema hired Fort Smith native and former Arkansas quarterback Barry Lunney on Tuesday to coach tight ends.
“When I came to Arkansas, I said I wanted to assemble a staff second to none,” Bielema said. “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’s first foray away from his alma mater came in 2006, when he coached running backs at Rice. The following season he left for Arizona, where he coached for two seasons before returning to Kansas State.
Smith helped tutor true freshman Tyler Lockett to a breakout season in 2011 as a receiver and kick returner. The Wildcats went 10-3 that season, including a 29-16 loss to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
Kansas State won its first 10 games last fall and rose to No. 1 before losing at Baylor. The Wildcats won their second Big 12 title, advanced to the Fiesta Bowl and finished 11-2 with a 35-17 loss to Oregon.
Smith earned third-team All-America honors at Kansas State in 1991 and a place as one of the Big Eight’s greatest receivers. His 2,457 career receiving yards ranked thirdbest in Big Eight history behind Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers and Oklahoma State’s Hart Lee Dykes.
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/18/2013