He's from Louisville, played linebacker at Kentucky, became the first Kentucky high school coach to win five straight state championships and then proved himself in recruiting battles during the last three years as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
Here's a look back at how Smith helped persuade four players -- Carmel, Ind., quarterback Morgan Newton, Boyle County (Ky.) tight end Jordan Aumiller, Lexington center Sam Simpson and Indianapolis running back Dakotah Tyler -- to sign with the Wildcats in February and how there is no set way to recruit players whether they are high-profile national recruits such as Newton or a hometown star such as Simpson.
He's the biggest name Smith has had a personal hand in recruiting at Kentucky and is a player few probably felt Kentucky had any chance to sign two years ago. However, a connection Smith made when he was head coach at Boyle County played a pivotal role in helping Kentucky sign him.
Newton's high school coach at Carmel, Mo Moriarity, was an offensive line coach at Indiana when Smith was a high school coach. Then it was Moriarity that came to see Smith looking for recruits. Naturally, when Smith joined the UK staff, he made sure to visit Moriarity, who had taken over the powerful Carmel program.
"I stopped by every year whether he had somebody or not we were going to recruit," Smith said. Three years ago he told Smith about a "special, special sophomore" he had playing quarterback. That was the first Smith had heard of Newton, who became a Parade All-American and Indiana's Mr. Football.
"From that point on, I looked at him. We got tape on him. When he was a junior, we offered him a scholarship," Smith said. "I knew after watching him he would be a guy that would get a lot of scholarship offers."
The 6-4, 220-pound Newton blossomed into one of the nation's top quarterbacks. He threw for 1,938 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior and ran for 1,664 yards and 26 touchdowns. He led Carmel to three straight state title game appearances, and his team won the title in 2006. He finished his career with 4,284 yards passing (37 touchdowns) and 2,617 yards rushing (37 touchdowns). He broke 10 school records held by former NFL quarterback Mark Hermann.
Smith stayed visible to Newton and his family and never wavered in his belief that Newton had a genuine interest in Kentucky. That belief intensified when Newton came to watch UK beat Louisville in 2007 and a few weeks later the Cats upset eventual national champion LSU. "Once he came to that game, I thought we had a realistic shot to recruit him," Smith said. "Before that, I knew it was probably a long shot. Once he came, that's when I got (offensive coordinator) Joker (Phillips) and everybody involved. Then last summer when he came down with his mom, dad and whole family for a second visit. "Obviously Joker was a big key in the whole thing. We never would have got him without Joker. He was the guy who sealed the deal for us." Smith says it was obvious Newton had both running and throwing skills. Intangible skills can be harder to evaluate, especially for a quarterback, but Smith knew Newton had the qualities needed there, too.
"The character it takes to lead team to championship is something he had. You can tell he has the 'it' factor," Smith said. "I watched him play basketball, and he found a way to win a game at the end.
"He is just one of those guys coaches see as a winner. He can get the job done and wants to get the job done. He wants the ball and wants pressure. He has all the intangibles the great ones have. He has confidence. He is not cocky. He just has a sincere belief in his own ability."