Smith was drafted in the third round out of the University of Utah where he’d been a star receiver for the Utes for two years. Smith only played his junior and senior years at the University of Utah as he’d begun his college career at Santa Monica College (where he happened to be teammates with future NFL star Chad Johnson… not a bad pair of junior college wide receivers!).
Steve Smith was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 2001 NFL Draft. Smith’s first season was a quiet one as he only caught ten passes for just over 150 yards, but he did show glimpses of a bright future by leading the NFL in kickoff return yardage and going to the Pro Bowl. He showed noticeable improvement during his second season when he caught 54 passes for 872 yards and three touchdowns. The 2003 season saw Smith prove himself with his first season with over 1,000 yards receiving, he also scored seven touchdowns as the Panthers made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Patriots.
Smith’s 2004 season was cut short in the opening game against the Green Bay Packers when he suffered a leg injury and would sit out the remainder of the season on injured reserve. He came back strong in 2005 posting his best season ever and leading the league in pass receptions (tie), receiving yards, and touchdown receptions (tie). 2005 would also see the Panther again push deep into the playoffs before losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. In a second round playoff game against the Chicago Bears, Smith would catch 12 balls for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Smith would start the 2006 season with a hamstring injury, among other small problems, but will still go on to post his third 1,000 yard + season. Even with missing two games and being banged up, he would still manage to finish in the top ten in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Steve Smith wasn’t recruited by a major college when he graduated from University High School in Los Angeles, and earned a scholarship to a division I college only after first playing football at a junior college. He has gone on to prove just what hard work, talent, and a big heart can do for a young athlete who is not thought of as highly as others.
Some interesting facts about Steve Smith:
- Steve Smith is one of three players in the history of the NFL to run back two punts for touchdowns and also catch a touchdown pass in the same game (the other two are Jermaine Lewis and Devin Hester).
- In the 2003 post season, Steve Smith gained a total of 403 yards. This was the most gained by anyone in the post season since Jerry Rice had gained 409 yards in 1988.
- During the 2005 season, Steve Smith became the first player since Art Monk in 1984 to lead the league in receiving yards even though his team ran more than it passed.