With the exception of being the backup quarterback, those players who don’t start a game tend to get overlooked. When you’re playing in the shadows of a trio of star linebackers, it’s difficult to make a name for yourself. That’s been life for LB Mike Smith since he became a Hurricane. However, despite the lack of acclaim, Smith has helped contributed to what many would label the strongest position group on an elite defense.
While Quarterman, Pinckney and McCloud capture most of the attention, each man will tell you that Mike Smith is an integral member of the LB room. As State of the U continues with the next chapter of the our Senior Profile Series, we take a look at the collegiate career of Mike Smith.
Before the U
A common thread with most of the members of the Miami Hurricanes is that they come from the talent-rich backyard of South Florida. Smith was no different. He grew up in the city, attending Miami Northwestern Senior High. Working as a defensive end for the Bulls, Smith was not blessed with a tremendous get-off on on the snap of the ball. Yet, through determination, he found himself making tackles all over the field. A heat-seeker when it came to busting up plays, Smith’s relentlessness in pursuit of making a play jumps out at the viewers who watch his HS highlight reel. Based on the film, you’ll understand why Smith was named a First-Team All Dade member as a senior by the Miami Herald.
It’s that quality along with his ability to secure tackles that led to Smith receiving scholarship offers from Miami, Arkansas, Clemson, and West Virginia. Choosing to make his decision on National Signing Day, Smith stayed close to home and signed with the Hurricanes. After compiling 25 sacks over the course of his junior and senior years at Northwestern, Miami appeared to be getting a defensive playmaker in return that would raise the quality of UM’s defense with his addition.
Life as a Cane
The challenges that come with representing The U become apparent upon arrival to the Coral Gables campus. Mike Smith played behind the likes of Raphael Kirby, Denzel Perryman and Tyriq McCord while adjusting to the program. Smith would end up redshirting in 2014.
Next season, Smith finally saw game action, playing in 5 games. He gradually earned time on the field as he grasped the subtleties of the game. Smith followed it up the next season by playing in all 13 games for the Hurricanes, piling up 11 tackles and one interception as a sophomore in the 2016 season. That dependability would follow Smith during his upperclassmen years with the Canes.
As a junior in 2017, Smith continued to answer the call, playing in all 13 games that season as the Hurricanes’ defense started to gel. Smith finished with 23 total tackles that season, and 0.5 TFL in his one game with the team.
So far this season, Smith has surpassed his career best with 31 tackles, six TFLs and a forced fumble. Distinguished by his flowing dreads, No. 35 has served as a constant at linebacker for the last two years. Smith is the only linebacker on the Canes’ roster who has worked all three linebacker spots, serving as the ultimate jack-of-all trades at the position. He’s been reliable when called upon and, when you dwell on it, no one really has anything bad to say about the player or the person.
For that, we’re proud to tip our hats to Smith on an excellent career at the U.
Salute to Mike Smith!