It's been quite a few months for Alex Smith.
After returning to the NFL and leading the Washington Football Team to the playoffs as NFC East champions, Smith was awarded the 2021 AP Comeback Player of the Year award.
"It is humbling when I hear that," Smith said. "I know for how long I spent thinking about and looking at the men and women who inspired me. I am stuck in the hospital bed, stuck in a wheelchair, spent countless hours googling and looking at videos of our service men and women going through the same rehab as I went through.
"So there were definitely people in front of me that I am so thankful for that allowed me to go down this path. And obviously I am humbled and I guess you hope that you can kind of be a link in that chain for anybody coming behind you."
While his professional accomplishments are impressive, Smith was recently honored for what he did while wearing the read and white of Utah.
In a recent article by ESPN's Bill Connelly, he ranked college football's top quarterbacks of the 21st century. Sure enough Smith found himself on the list, as not only the only quarterback from the Utes but the top quarterback from the state of Utah.
Smith, who played for Utah from 2002-04 and was the quarterback of the original 'BCS Buster', checked in at No. 37 on the list.
“Smith was a steady, safe option for a defense-heavy Utah team in 2003, but in 2004 he became the perfect vessel for the Urban Meyer offense, leading the Utes to an unbeaten season, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting and flashing enough potential to go No. 1 in the 2005 draft,” Connelly wrote.
Smith is potentially the greatest quarterback to play for the Utes, leading the team to a 2004 Fiesta Bowl victory over No. 19 Pittsburgh. That Utah squad was known as the original "BCS Buster," finishing the season 12-0 and No. 4 in the AP rankings.
He threw for 5,203 yards and 47 touchdowns to eight interceptions, completing 66.3% of his passes with a quarterback rating of 164.4. He added 1,072 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 3.5 yards per carry.
Smith declared for the NFL draft following his junior season, and was selected No. 1 overall by the San Francisco 49ers. He just completed his 14th season in the NFL and is now looking for a new home after he was released by Washington last month.
He has parlayed that success into a solid NFL career, playing with the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs before being traded to the Washington Football Team in 2018.
As of right now, he's thrown for 35,650 yards, completing 62.6% of his passes for 199 touchdowns to 109 interceptions and a career passer rating of 86.9. He's added 2,604 rushing yards (19th all-time by a QB) and 15 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
At 36 years old, it's assumed that his best playing days are behind him. But he proved last year with Washington that he's more than capable of winning with the proper cast around him.
He finished the season throwing for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 66.7% of his passes — not bad for someone who hadn't played competitive football in nearly three years. But he missed the final three games of the season with a calf injury on the same leg he nearly lost, although the injuries weren't related.
Now a free agent, it's expected that a number of teams will show serious interest in Smith as either a high-quality backup, a mentor to a younger quarterback or a potential stop-gap situation while teams look for their new starter.