UK Football

Kentucky will hire former Arkansas assistant to lead wide receivers

Michael Smith, right, coached wide receivers at Arkansas for five seasons and was at Kansas State before that.
Michael Smith, right, coached wide receivers at Arkansas for five seasons and was at Kansas State before that.

A star wide receiver from Kansas State with a reputation for recruiting has been hired by Kentucky to fill its opening at wide receivers coach, according to a report.

Michael Smith, who has coached at Arkansas since 2013, will replace fired wide outs coach Lamar Thomas on Coach Mark Stoops’ staff, Football Scoop said on Tuesday.

A UK team spokesman said the school couldn’t confirm the report.

Smith is a 20-year veteran, who has coached at several stops including his alma mater, Rice and Arizona. Stoops and Smith coached together previously at Arizona.

While at Arkansas, the Hogs finished in the top seven in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense in each of the past three seasons, including third overall in 2015 and 2016, when they finished with a combined 57 touchdowns through the air.

Throughout his coaching career, the New Orleans native has been a position coach for 15 NFL players, including running back Darren Sproles a multi-season Pro Bowl selection and the NFL single-season record holder for all-purpose yards.

He has had recruiting success bringing in players from his home state. In 2012, he was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 Conference by Rivals.

When his playing career was finished, Smith started at Kansas State as a graduate assistant and coached running backs from 1997-2005 and then wide receivers for four seasons.

Smith will take over a young wide receivers group that lost leading pass catcher in Garrett Johnson (48 catches for 539 yards and two touchdowns) as well as steady standout Charles Walker.

The Cats will return junior Tavin Richardson (27 catches, 371 yards, one TD) as well as senior Dorian Baker, who sat out last season with an ankle injury after being a long-time starter.

Other returning UK players include Lynn Bowden, Isaiah Epps, Josh Ali and Clevan Thomas. Several true freshmen are likely to get into the rotation as well.

Class of 2018 signees so far include Marvin Alexander, Akeem Hayes and Bryce Oliver. The Cats also got a commitment from LiAllen Dailey this week. The three-star standout is expected to sign on Feb. 7.

Stoops still has one more position to fill, a newly allowed 10th assistant coach, which will be on the defensive side of the ball.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader