We've been waiting for movement, rumors, something ... anything on the defensive side of the ball as it pertains to Mike Leach's staff and it appears at least one hire has been made. According to a report from Football Scoop on Tuesday, Leach has hired New York Jets coaching intern Mike Smith. Though not officially listed as a coach anywhere by the Jets, Smith has played a big role in the development of at least one outside linebacker while honing his coaching skills in New York.
If true, this is another family hire for Leach. Smith played under Leach at Texas Tech, starting 45 games at linebacker over the course of his career. Smith was drafted midway through the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft, but a devastating injury cut his career short.
Smith turned to coaching after hanging up his cleats, working for a year as the linebackers coach at Hawaii. Though it was only a short stint, it's worth remembering Leach said he wanted to place a significant emphasis on Hawaii in recruiting.
In 2010, Smith began working with the Jets, where he's been a "coaching intern" since. Naturally, he assists with the linebackers, helping coach the position he played. Essentially, Smith has been grinding along, trying to catch on and further his coaching career with the Jets while working for a small paycheck. Smith is kind of a go-between for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in somewhat of an NFL graduate assistant position.
Here's where things get fun. Over at the New York Daily News, you'll find a story about Smith's work with linebacker Aaron Maybin. This season, Maybin has been outstanding, turning his career around while increasing his production on the field. And he credits Smith in a big way.
He’s also Maybin’s de facto personal coach, spending countless hours helping the former Bills first-round pick find his way.
"Without him, I’d probably be a fish without fins in the open sea," says Maybin, who is an NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate with his team-high six sacks and four forced fumbles in nine games. "He understands me better than any of my coaches since I was in college. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m doing what I’m doing now."
I can't recommend the lengthy feature on Smith enough, so go read it.
It's also worth noting that Leach spent some time around the Jets after leaving Texas Tech. It was part of a coaching tour, where Leach visited numerous programs observing how each operated.
Again, this is just a report, but it's an interesting hire -- in a good way -- if true. Smith seems like the kind of hungry, driven assistant that could excel, and if we've learned anything from looking at Leach's coaching tree, it's that he's excellent at swooping up and developing young coaching talent.