As he stepped up to the podium, you could tell Alex Smith was and always will be a Ute.
The Utah graduate and current starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs was humble from the beginning – something he has been known for throughout his football career. Talking to the press, Smith addressed a wide variety of questions that included talking about his commencement speech to even reminiscing about his 2004 Utah squad, the original Bowl Championship Series busters.
Smith was chosen to be Utah’s commencement speaker this year, something he was not expecting having not even reached the age of 30 yet.
“No expectations ever being a commencement speaker,” he said. “Definitely surprised when I got the phone call and humbled, for sure, to say the least.”
Smith said when he was searching for topics to speak about, he looked into his own past. After his graduation, Smith went through a many experiences that he feels he can share with this spring’s graduating class. He continued to say that he will be sharing things that he’s discovered throughout his life that helped him through some tough times.
Knowing that Utah is a much different school than the one he left 10 years ago, Smith decided he should change up his speech to adapt to the current class.
“It’s a different place,” he said. “It’s one of the weirdest things coming back now and seeing how much has changed. This new football facility to start with – we didn’t have a room like this before. I don’t know where we did interviews and press conferences.”
When Smith was in school, he had no expectations of leaving school early and getting a chance to play in the NFL. After a successful senior season, Smith said it all happened so fast. Unlike some other top prospects in college football, Smith was was more worried about getting to class, receiving good grades and trying to win football games as a quarterback.
“I’m very fortunate to play football for a living,” he said. “I never expected it and it’s going to end for me one day as well. It’s going to end for all of us. I think education is the foundation of anything you want to do in life beyond that…This is all pretty short lived in the big scheme of things – even for me.”
After sharing his experiences, the football questions began to fire away.
When asked to reflect on his 2004 Fiesta Bowl-winning team his senior year, Smith said, “I think the thing that jumped out at me was the singularity of that team’s focus and selflessness. Every guy in that locker room played for each other and we were playing for the singular focus of we wanted to be the school to break down the BCS. We wanted to be the school that proved that we could play with anybody.”
This upcoming football season will welcome a new playoff system, where it will take the top four ranked teams and they will compete in a playoff. This system is new to the entire college football world, as it has never had such a system in place. When asked about the new structure, Smith said he would have loved to play in that organization during his time at Utah, especially when the Utes were undefeated.
At the end of the press conference, Smith expressed his excitement to be able to give back to the university that holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s been great to be able to give back in a little way,” he said. “It’s weird to walk around here and see your name on the weight room.”