SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith, who was the NFL’s top draft pick in 2005, has accepted an invitation from the University of Utah to deliver the general commencement address May 1.
The all-pro Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, who is a Utah graduate and generous philanthropist, was chosen to do so by school president David W. Pershing and the university’s Board of Trustees.
“Smith is not only a talented athlete and accomplished student,” Pershing said in making the announcement. “He is a standout example of class and persistence. It is no surprise that his teammates voted him the Ed Block Courage Award in 2011 as a model of inspiration, sportsmanship and courage. It is an honor to welcome Alex back to campus.”
Before pursuing a pro football career, Smith led the Utes to a 21-1 record as the starting quarterback. His win total included victories in the 2003 Liberty Bowl and 2005 Fiesta Bowl. It took him just two years to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics, graduating with a 3.74 GPA. He then started course work on a master’s degree.
According to a university press release, the Alex Smith Foundation and the Alex Smith Guardian Scholars Program were established in 2007 to assist foster teens in attending college — spending 91 percent of its funding on scholarships and grants.
The public is invited to hear Smith speak at the general commencement exercises on Thursday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The event is free.