ETSU Hall of Fame: Smith was a hit long before coaching called
Mike Smith's trek to the NFL began in ETSU's Memorial Center..
Mike Smith's trek to the NFL began in ETSU's Memorial Center..

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Editor's note: The following Johnson City Press story is the sixth in a series of six daily features profiling the 2013 ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame class, leading up to the induction ceremony Sunday at the Millennium Center in Johnson City. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and tickets may be purchased by calling  423-439-4343 . ETSUBucs.com is providing an excerpt from each day's story courtesy of the Johnson City Press.

 

By TREY WILLIAMS

Press Sports Writer

Mike Smith had a nose for the football, a head for the game and an undersized body willing to shoulder the load at middle linebacker.

Smith, who will be inducted into the ETSU Hall of Fame today, made an East Tennessee State record 186 tackles as a senior in 1981. The sixth-year Atlanta Falcons’ head coach also led the Buccaneers with 120 stops in ‘80. It’s ETSU’s highest two-year total, and was recorded by a player that some say was generously listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds.

“If you’d looked at Smitty, size wise, you would not have thought he played linebacker – middle linebacker, at that,” said ETSU Hall of Famer Donnie Cook, an All-American defensive back. “I was a safety and I weighed more than he did. But I sure didn’t want to hit him, because he came with it; he used his entire body. He would hit you with weight you didn’t think he had.”

Former Bucs assistant coaches Pete Kuharchek and Mike Hennigan graded the film the season Smith made 186 stops, and Kuharchek said the tally was accurate.

Smith missed the 1979 season with an injury, and coaches say he diligently studied film scouting opponents and was essentially an extra coach that season, which Smith fondly recalls being highlighted by a 35-0 rout of undefeated and nationally ranked Chattanooga.

Click on the "Related Link" button located to the right for the complete Johnson City Press article.
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