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. Before the 1999 draft, the New Orleans Saints offered the Bengals NINE draft picks in exchange for the #3 pick, which they used to draft Smith (the Saints wanted Texas running back Ricky Williams). In one of the most head-scratching decisions in NFL history, the Bengals passed up on the Saints insanely generous offer and decided to stick with Smith.
Back to Smith’s NFL career… At Oregon he excelled because of his elite athleticism, but at the pro level Smith needed to understand a playbook and display accuracy on his throws. He was never able to do either, 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.