Former standout defensive end for the Missouri Tigers, Justin Smith is going to be inducted into the 2012 class of the Mizzou Hall of Fame, forever enshrining his collegiate accomplishments.
Smith started out playing in Jefferson City, Mo. for the Jefferson City Jays in high school. His senior season that Jays team would win the state championship behind his massive 124 tackles and 15 sacks.
In his first season of college play in 1998, he became the first true freshman to start every game on defense for Missouri since Adrian Jones did it at cornerback in 1986.
His intense play and high level of success earned him the nickname “Godzilla” from Missouri radio play-by-play man Mike Kelly, a name that Smith didn’t really care for.
Smith was an extremely versatile player under then-head coach Larry Smith, sometimes brought in on Jumbo packages on offense as a blocking fullback. There really was no end to the effectiveness and success that came to Smith during his time at Mizzou.
After his junior year, he declared for the NFL draft. He was taken as the No. 3 overall selection by the Cincinnati Bengals where he would establish himself well as an NFL caliber player. Now in playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Smith and fellow Missouri alum Aldon Smith complement each other on the defensive line very well.
Smith is being inducted along with four other Missouri athletes, Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, Christi Myers who was the first ever volleyball All-American at Mizzou, Helen Wilson who will be the first tennis player in the Mizzou Hall of Fame and James Taylor who was an offensive lineman and first-team All-Big 8 in 1977.
The awards ceremony will take place on February 1, 2013, and while it would be great for the Tigers to have Smith attend this ceremony, I’m sure he and 49ers fans would like to think he’ll still be with his team, preparing to play in the Super Bowl that will be two days later.