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The Wall Of Excellence, Class Of 2012: Aldon Smith

Mizzou has made a habit of not only creating star football players, but creating stars with personality. When Sean Weatherspoon left, he passed the personality (and greatness) torch to No. 85.

Aldon Smith (2009-10)

Every March and August, fans of a college football team hear buzz about some new guy who is just terrorizing the scout team, a surefire all-star who is guaranteed to start from Day One and leave early for the pros. Almost every single player who receives this unfair level of hype, fails to live up to it. Almost every player is not Aldon Smith.

The hype train for Smith began over a year before he saw the field. During fall practices for the 2008 season, beat writers and coaches could not stop raving about the potential Smith was showing; the only thing that could prevent him from playing as a true freshman was the NCAA clearinghouse, which took as long as possible to designate him as eligible and fully qualified. They took long enough that, when he was eventually cleared, the staff decided it was too close to the season, and he had missed too much time, and they redshirted him. Joe Ganz, Robert Griffin, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford, quarterbacks who never had the pleasure of going against Mr. Smith because of the redshirt, should all write the clearinghouse a lovely thank you note. Smith's career was a supernova blast of just 23 games, 29 tackles for loss, endless personality, and countless highlights. And in his first year in the NFL, he was one of the most dominant rookies in the game.