Smith earns spot in Div. II History

Former wide Lions receiver Rod Smith will be inducted into the Division II Sports Hall of Fame on Dec. 12.

Courtesy of sports information

Former wide Lions receiver Rod Smith will be inducted into the Division II Sports Hall of Fame on Dec. 12.

Rod Smith’s career has come full circle.

From the rock hard Astroturf of Fred G. Hughes Stadium to the grasslands of Mile High Stadium, Smith has seen it all.

From flying over Pittsburg State defenders to catching passes from Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, Smith has experienced it all.

Smith, a former All-American wide receiver at Missouri Southern, is being rewarded for his achievements at the collegiate level with an induction into the Division II Football Hall of Fame.

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan is certain it will not be Smith’s last.

“When people ask me, ‘Should Rod Smith be in the Hall of Fame?’ You’re darn right he should,” Shanahan said. “There is only one person, and that is Art Monk, that’s gone into the Hall of Fame in his position who has caught more passes.”

After putting the wraps on a stellar career at Southern Smith became an All-Pro with the Broncos.

His winning attitude had an immediate impact on his coaches and fellow teammates when he arrived in Denver.

“Any time you are able to get a player like Rod Smith when you start out as a young coach,” said Shanahan, “you really don’t know how lucky you are. Rod is the only person that I have ever been around on a consistent basis, day in, day out, that never cared about his stats. All Rod Smith talked about was winning.

“When you have a guy that talks about winning consistently, regardless of any number of catches or any honors, anyone who is able to influence the locker room like he has, then you have a chance to do something special.”

The MSSU Hall of Famer, who was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February, will be one of two players to go into the Division II Hall of Fame on Dec. 12 at the Florence Conference Center in Florence, Ala.

Joining Smith will be former Jacksonville State (Ala.) defensive back Eric Davis. The induction ceremony will coincide with the presentation of the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy.

Smith, who was named to the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003, was in contention for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 1992 before suffering a devastating knee injury against Washburn that nearly ended his career.

His attitude on and off the field helped him persevere and prepare for life after football. Smith, who earned three degrees – general business, economics and finance and marketing and management – while attending MSSU, is looking forward to future ventures.

“I’m going to do some yard work,” Smith deadpanned. “Honestly right now I have a lot of things going on.

“From day one, I didn’t know where I was going to be, so I always prepared myself for life after football. Football just kept getting in the way for 14 years, thank God.

I have some projects I have been working on for the past six or seven years and now I have the time to finish them up without me getting in the way.”