Where are they now? An update on former Oregon Akili Smith's career

Akili Smith
Akili Smith / Tom Hauck/GettyImages

One of the greatest JUCO success stories from the late 1990s was legendary Oregon quarterback Akili Smith.

Smith joined the Ducks in 1997 and played an incredible two seasons with Oregon before being selected as the third overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.

While becoming a star with the Ducks, Smith amassed a stunning 5,148 passing yards and 45 touchdown passes. In his senior season alone, Smith had 36 total touchdowns and nearly 4,000 total yards.

 Smith was selected as the Pac-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 1998 (alongside UCLA’s Cade McNown) and earned a First-Team All-Pac-10 honor that year.

Akili Smith #11
Akili Smith #11 / Otto Greule Jr/GettyImages

After his historic two-year stint with the Ducks, Smith was heading to the NFL and was expected to be a standout quarterback in the league.

Devastatingly for Oregon fans and NFL fans hopeful about the former Duck’s career, Smith failed miserably at the professional level.

The beloved Duck lasted just four seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster. Smith had 2,212 passing yards for 5 touchdowns through the air. He also had 13 interceptions and an abysmal 46.6 percent completion rate.

Smith bounced around on NFL practice squads after his time in Cincinnati. He was with the Green Bay Packers in 2003 and a year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005.

Following his time with the Bucs, Smith earned a spot on the Frankfurt Galaxy roster, a team in the German NFL league. Smith then spent a year in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders.

While Smith’s professional career didn’t unfold quite how Duck fans had hoped, he has raised another generation of Duck fans and, hopefully, players.

Smith’s son, Akili Smith Jr., is a four-star quarterback in the 2025 class and committed to the Oregon Ducks on July 31, 2023.

Smith Jr. is ranked as the No. 78 athlete in his high school class and the No. 8 quarterback, as well as the No. 8 player coming out of California.

Akili Smith Sr. cemented himself as an Oregon legend in the late 90s and, if all goes according to plan, Akili Smith Jr. will do the same in the mid-2020s.

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