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Urban Meyer: Alex Smith Is As Good As I’ve Ever Been Around

Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of Utah hugs head coach Urban Meyer after Utah defeated Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl at the Sun Devil Stadium on January 1, 2005 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images).

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah head coach Urban Meyer has coached a lot of great quarterbacks in college football, he thinks Alex Smith is one of the best he has ever been around.

When Meyer arrived at Utah as the head coach in 2003, Alex Smith wasn’t the starting quarterback. That job belonged to Brett Ratliff but when Ratliff was injured, Smith played exceptionally well and took the starting job from Ratliff.

During Meyer’s last season at Ohio State before he retired, he had Joe Burrow in the program before he transferred to LSU and won a National Championship and the Heisman Trophy in 2019. Meyer compared Smith’s development to Burrow.

“He’s a lot like Joe Burrow,” Meyer told KSL Sports. “Joe Burrow was underdeveloped because he was a great High School basketball player Alex was just a slow developer. He was a real skinny guy. When we got there I didn’t know he could play a lot. I remember the first time Dan Mullen and I watched them go through our bag drills and we just had concern because we wanted an athletic quarterback back there.”

What helped Smith snatch the starting spot after Ratliff’s injury and talk off to eventually be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft was his work ethic.

“Alex worked,” Meyer stated. “His work ethic is maybe the best I’ve ever been around, his intelligence is the best I’ve ever been around. I don’t think people realize how tough Alex is. I think they do now after they watched that documentary on his injury, with his beautiful wife and family. So when the game slowed down for him, and he told me that once at practice, he’s such an analyzer. He’s such an analytical thinker, that he won’t pull the trigger on throwing the ball unless he really understands and boy when he really understood, he’s as good as I’ve ever been around.”

Listen to Meyer’s full interview on the Crimson Corner podcast, below.

When Meyer Thought Smith Was Going To Be Special

Meyer knew almost immediately that Alex Smith was going to be special after his first start.

“His first start against Cal. When he started really playing that way I didn’t know he’d be the number one draft pick,” Meyer said. “I think he had a great NFL career. I hope he continues to play. But then the Oregon game is when that guy stood up man. Second start ever against a top 25 team and he was just throwing dots. I mean, he was outstanding. Probably the best play is against San Diego State, they blitzed, there was a free rusher and he delivered a ball and he stepped right into the guy hitting him, you can’t teach that, you either got that as a quarterback or you don’t that’s Tim Tebow-ish, JT Barrett-ish. The number one quality is competitor, number two is toughness and Alex Smith is perfect for both of those.”

That really says something when Meyer has won three national championships at Florida and Ohio State while coaching many great quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller.

Project 11 Documentary

On May 1, ESPN’s E:60 documentary featured the road to recovery for Alex Smith after suffering a horrific injury on November 18, 2018 as the Washington Redskins battled the Houston Texans. Meyer and his family watched the documentary and came away amazed.

“Most of my family watched that and Shelley had tears in her eyes and so did I,” Meyer said. “I did not know that. Alex is very quiet. He’s holds things in and so I would see him playing that Tahoe golf event. In the summer I would see him and once again hang out with him and spend time with him. I would text him, we’d call once in a while, but he’s a very private person. So I didn’t know the extent. I would hear stories and I text him or call him and he was like, ‘coach, I’m gonna be fine. I’m gonna be fine.’ I actually talked to his mom and dad too, after that show. I had no idea. None. I knew it was serious but not to that degree.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.