It's in the Blood

Like his father Lyle before him, Bill Smith wanted to coach football. Bill has now been coaching young student-athletes for 40 years. We chronicle the career of Bill Smith in this edition of the "Where Are They Now?" series.

Bill Smith played for Boise Junior College in 1963 and 1964, learning under his father, Coach Lyle Smith. The Broncos were 5-3-1 in 1963 and Smith helped the team to an 8-2 mark the following season, when Bill was made the junior college All-America team.

Following his short stint with the Broncos, Bill went on to Oregon where he excelled. He was drafted in the 16th round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom he played for in 1967.

From there, Smith coached for Capital High School in Boise for two seasons and then coached at Oregon as a graduate assistant in 1970. He was able to land the defensive coordinator at Jesuit High School in Portland, a position he held from 1971-1977. Smith was hired as the head coach at San Diego's Marian High School from 1978-1979 and then became the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Portland State from 1980-1985.

Smith got a similar job at Montana from 1986-1988 then moved over to Weber State where he was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Bill then took his resume with all of that experience to Utah and was hired as the linebackers coach, a position he held from 1990-1996. Smith then became the tight ends/tackles coach in 1997. From there, he went to Granger High School in Salt Lake City for two seasons.

Since then, Smith has been up in Flagstaff, Arizona, helping the Northern Arizona program. He is currently in his 11th season at Northern Arizona as the defensive line coach. During his tenure, Smith has led a productive defensive line group that has ranked among the top 20 in the Football Championship Series four times. In 2008, the defensive line helped NAU lead the FCS and rank second in Division I overall in rushing defense, allowing just 59.8 yards per game. NAU held four opponents to negative yards rushing and a fifth to just 21 on the game. For the season, NAU allowed 658 yards on 307 carries (2.1 yards per carry) with 99 plays for zero or negative yardage on the season, including 72 for a loss on the season. It reset the NAU and Big Sky Conference records for rushing defense and yards allowed in a season.

All three Lumberjack defensive linemen earned accolades led by College Sporting News All-America selection Stephen Nowgbe, who was the school's first All-Big Sky first team selection on the line since 1997. Kyle Rath and Michael Battisti both earned honorable mention accolades. Seven players have earned All-Big Sky accolades under Coach Smith. Bill tutored a group that was a major factor in the success that produced a Big Sky Championship and NCAA I-AA quarterfinal appearance.

Congratulations to former Bronco Bill Smith, whose coaching career now spans four decades and continued good luck!


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