Smithburg’s career at Kansas continuesJayhawk entering final season
Fairfield native Mike Smithburg says the best day of his life was when he won a national title.
It was in December of 2012. He was an offensive lineman for the Iowa Western Community College Reivers, and they throttled Butler Community College 27-7 at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls to win the NJCAA National Championship.
“I still get chills just thinking about the last couple snaps to run out the clock and throwing my helmet as far as I could in the air while running around the UNI Dome,” Smithburg said.
Smithburg will soon be entering his senior year in college and is now a left guard for the Kansas Jayhawks. Before his college days he was a Fairfield Trojan. Smithburg remembers playing at Trojan Stadium fondly, and helped Fairfield complete back-to-back winning seasons.
“We had some very solid seasons that seemed somewhat disappointing at the time,” Smithburg said. “But over the past few years I’ve really realized that football is not an easy game, and a 7-4 or 6-4 record isn’t something to be disappointed in at any level.”
After playing his playing days as a Trojan, the now 6-foot-3-inch tall, 305-pound college junior had multiple offers from colleges to come play football. Smithburg had always dreamed of playing Division 1, so he went to Iowa Western Community College with the hope that after two years he could get recruited to a top tier school.
After a national title and being given NJCAA Honorable Mention All-America honors, Smithburg was ranked as the No. 41 junior college prospect in America.
“My husband and I traveled to all but one of his [junior college] games,” Mike’s mother Madonna Smithburg said. “Of course our entire family and a bus load of friends went to the National Championship game. We were lucky it was at the UNI dome.”
He garnered plenty of attention with Iowa Western’s success, and would end up choosing Kansas over Akron, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Illinois and South Florida. It probably didn’t hurt that he was taken to see a home Jayhawk basketball game during his visit. Kansas is a perennial power on the hardwood and offers one of the best atmospheres in college basketball.
“It was one of my few major conference offers and I loved it on my visit,” Mike said. “My biggest dream was always playing in some of the best atmospheres in sports, and the Big 12 [Conference] has that.”
Last season, Smithburg played in nine games and started eight for the Jayhawks. Led by coach Charlie Weiss, Kansas snagged three home victories against South Dakota, Louisiana Tech and West Virginia.
Kansas begins spring practice today.