Smith to enter Division II Football Hall of Fame

FLORENCE, Ala. -- Former Missouri Southern All-America WR Rod Smith will be honored as part of the 10th class of inductees into the Division II Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Thursday (Oct. 23).

Smith, who recently retired after playing 13 seasons in the National Football League -- all with the Denver Broncos, will be joined in the induction class by former Jacksonville (Ala.) State DB Eric Davis.

Davis, who also played 13 NFL seasons with four teams after his collegiate days with the Gamecocks, was a teammate of Smith on the 2001 Broncos.

Smith and Davis will be inducted on Dec. 12 as part of a combined Harlon Hill Trophy and Division II Football Hall of Fame Banquet at 6:30 p.m. at the Florence Conference Center in Florence, Ala.

Smith is the second MIAA player to be selected by the 20-member selection committee for induction to the Hall of Fame. Former Pittsburg State RB Ronald Moore was inducted as part of the Class of 2005.

A native of Texarkana, Ark., Smith enjoyed a stellar career at Missouri Southern -- where he set MIAA records in career receiving yards (3,122) and touchdowns (35). He also still holds school records for catches in a game (13), receiving yards in a game (254), receiving yards in a season (1,439), highest average gain per reception in a season (24.0), touchdown receptions in a season (15) and longest pass reception (98 yards).

He finished his career with 158 receptions for 3,122 yards and 34 touchdowns, which is now third all-time. As a senior in 1993, he was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press, Kodak, Football Gazette, and NCAA Division II Sports Information Directors. He finished the year as a Harlon Hill Award finalist after posting 63 receptions for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Upon graduating in 1994 with degrees in economics and finance, general business, and marketing and management, Smith was named Missouri Southern's Outstanding Graduate.

Smith began his pro career by signing with the Denver Broncos practice squad in 1994. He played 13 seasons and recorded 849 receptions for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns, all of which are franchise records. He ranks 12th on the all-time NFL career receptions list and 19th all-time in career receiving yards.

He leads all undrafted players in NFL history in every major career receiving category. He posted eight career 1,000 yard seasons, including six straight from 1997-2002. He is also one of just six players to have back-to-back seasons with 100 receptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000, 2001, and 2004. He would go on to help the Broncos win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.

In 1995 he saw action in all 16 of the Broncos regular-season games as a wide receiver and special teams player. His first career catch was a 43-yard game winning touchdown pass from John Elway against the Washington Redskins. Smith out-jumped NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green for the ball in the endzone as time expired. He also returned four kicks for 54 yards.

He started the 1996 season listed third on the depth chart. He recorded 16 catches for 237 yards while scoring two touchdowns. He also returned 23 punts for 283 yards. Smith enjoyed a break-out season in 1997, recording six 100-yard games. He started all 16 regular season games and lead the team with 1,180 yards receiving on 70 receptions. He also ranked third in the NFL with 16.9 yards per pass and caught 12 touchdowns. In Denver's 24-21 AFC Championship victory over Pittsburg, Smith caught a career playoff-high six passes for 87 yards. He helped the Broncos win Super Bowl XXXII over the Green Bay Packers.

Smith helped the Broncos defend their Super Bowl title in 1998 by posting 86 receptions for 1,222 and six touchdowns. He tied for third in the NFL in receptions and finished fourth in receiving yards. In the postseason he caught 12 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Smith also recorded his first career pass completion when he hit John Elway for a 14-yard gain on a wide receiver reverse pass.

In Super Bowl XXXIII against Atlanta, Smith had five receptions for a career post-season high 152 yards. This included an 80-yard touchdown from Elway in the second quarter to help Denver pull out a 34-19 victory. It tied for the second-longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.

Smith once again led the Broncos in receiving yards and receptions in 1999 after catching 79 balls for 1,020 yards. He recorded four touchdowns and finished with a long reception of 71 yards. He became the first player in franchise history to post three consecutive seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards.

In 2000, Smith was elected to his first Pro Bowl game. He was also named second-team All-NFL by the Associated Press, first-team All-Pro by USA Today, College & Pro Newsweekly and Football Digest, and All-AFC by Pro Football Weekly and Football News. He started all 16 regular-season games and set a career high with 1,602 yards on 100 receptions to go along with 8 touchdowns. His 1,602 receiving yards tied for ninth-most in a season in NFL history.

Smith followed up with another Pro-Bowl season in 2001. He was selected as a started after catching a career-high 113 passes for 1,343 yards and 11 touchdowns. He became one of six players in NFL history to catch 100 or more passes in back-to-back seasons. He set a NFL record by catching 67 passes in the first eight games of the season. This was the most ever by an NFL player at that stage of a season.

Smith was voted offensive captain by his teammates in 2002 and went on to lead the Broncos in receiving yards for the sixth straight season. He caught a team high 89 passes for 1,027 yards and five touchdowns. He caught his 500th career pass in a game against Miami. Smith ended the year as the Broncos' all-time leader in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and 100-yards games and second in receptions and total touchdowns.

Smith again led the Broncos in receptions and receiving yards in 2003. He caught 74 passes for 845 yards and three touchdowns. He caught his 600th career pass against San Diego, making him the 31st player in NFL history to do so. He also finished the regular season having caught a pass in a team-record 76 straight games.

In 2004, Smith recorded his franchise-best seventh 1,000 yards season. He finished the year with 79 receptions for an AFC high 1,144 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith passed Shannon Sharpe and became the Broncos franchise leader in receptions and touchdown catches. He became one of 20 players in NFL history to record over 700 career receptions. He also became the only undrafted player to eclipsed 9,000 career receiving yards. He recorded a career-high 208 yards receiving against Arizona. He became the second Bronco in team history to top 200 receiving yards. He extended his franchise-record streak to 92 consecutive games with a catch.

Smith was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career after a record-breaking year in 2005. He was again led the Broncos with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards with six touchdowns. He passed Terrell Davis to become the Broncos career leader in touchdowns scored. He also became the NFL's first undrafted player to record 10,000 career receiving yards.

Smith became the Broncos all-time playoff leader in career receptions and receiving yards with 49 catches for 869 yards. Smith extended his franchise-record pass-catching streak to 124 games in 2006. He caught 52 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. He became the team's all-time leader in combined yardage with 12,488 yards. He also collected his 800th career pass reception against St. Louis.

Smith retired just before the start of the 2008 season after injuries forced him to miss the entire 2007 season. He retired as the Broncos all-time leader in every major receiving category.

-- MIAA --


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