The SEC named its new class of football legends today. Missouri’s representative: Justin Smith.
Introducing the 2016 @ATT SEC Football Legends Class https://t.co/rICbmnaD1y pic.twitter.com/epFbx5t7Lb— SEC (@SEC) October 4, 2016
There’s pretty good reason for this. In Smith’s three years in uniform, Mizzou only lost twice to SEC foes (Texas A&M in 1998 and 1999). He was by far the most talented player on those teams. Ergo, SEC legend.
Hey, go with it.
Any honor for Justin Smith is justifiable. He was phenomenal.
After a dominant freshman campaign, he certainly didn't become complacent. Smith was a first-team All-Big 12 player in 1999 and 2000, a first-team All-American in 2000, and the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. While that is all very impressive, his rankings on the all time Mizzou lists are almost as mind blowing.
Current Mizzou Records:
Most sacks in a game (4)
Second-most sacks in a season (11)
T-6th most sacks in a season (8)
Second-most sacks in a career (22.5)
Tackles for loss in a season (24 for 128 yards)
Tackles for loss in a career (50 for 211 yards)
To say the least, the man they called Godzilla made the most of those 34 games. With less help every year, he racked up 259 tackles in three seasons (quick reminder: he was a defensive end!) despite plays being run primarily away from him. He began his career by starting every game on Mizzou's Insight.com Bowl champion, and he racked up 22.5 career sacks, including 11 in his junior year alone (he also had 24 tackles for loss that season). Smith just seemed to get better with the more attention he got from opposing offenses, ending his career in 2000 as a first-team All-American. His size-and-speed combination was something to which Aldon Smith needs to aspire on a daily basis. In his early days, Larry Smith likened him to Junior Seau, and the Cincinnati Bengals basically did the same, drafting him fourth overall in the 2001 draft.