In an unexpected development, Oregon quarterback Akili Smith rocketed up draft boards during the 1998 season. A relatively unknown commodity at the beginning of the season, Smith burst onto the scene with after tossing 36 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. Despite a generous trade offer from the Saints, the Bengals took Smith with the 3rd overall pick.
Smith found football in the NFL a bit more challenging, and was out of the NFL after four seasons in which he played 22 games and totaled 5 touchdowns and 26 turnovers. In 2010, Smith joined the University of California’s football staff as a graduate assistant to work with the offense. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford was the offensive coordinator at Oregon when Smith played his college ball. As of September 2014, Smith was coaching football for The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California.