The return to football for former Utah QB Alex Smith

News broke on Friday night that Alex Smith, the former Utah quarterback who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, was cleared to return to football after nearing losing his leg in a gruesome injury
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Guess who's back? Back again!

Alex's back, tell a friend.

The return of Alex Smith is official after news broke on Friday night that the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft was medically cleared to play football again. 

“Everyone was in agreement that my bone was in a really good place,” Smith told ESPN. “I had healed a lot. They said that given the combination of the rod and where I was with the healing process, I had zero limitations and could even resume some football activities.”

As many may remember, Smith suffered a gruesome tibia and fibula fracture in 2018 when Houston Texans JJ Watt landed on Smith's leg during a game. Smith, who went down in a heap and laid there motionless for a while, was eventually carted off the field and went into emergency surgery.

But when news broke on Friday, Watt was one of the happiest people on the planet, tweeting out his love and support for Smith.

Smith officially got the okay from his personal doctors to resume to full activities, and is now focused on heading to Washington to take a physical with the team doctors.

Smith has spent the last few months in Hawaii training, consistently posting workout videos regarding the progress of his leg and how he was becoming more and more mobile. He never lost faith that he would be playing the game he loved, but admitted in a report by ESPN that while he was progressing, he had no idea how the bones were healing.

"While he could sense that he was continuing to progress as far as his strength, conditioning and agility were concerned, he said it was impossible for him to know just how well the bones in his right leg were healing."

His road to recovery and near-death story — albeit it with the hope of returning to professional football — is being chronicled by ESPN and titled "Project 11," a nod to Smith's jersey number with the Redskins.

“I think I’m so used to my body responding how I want it to respond. I had high expectations for this process and that I could knock it out of the park, and I think I’ve had to slow that a little bit,” Smith said during a promotional teaser for the documentary.

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Smith is potentially the greatest quarterback to play for the Utes, leading the team to a 2004 Fiesta Bowl victory over No. 19 Pittsburgh while being a Heisman trophy finalist as well. That Utah squad was known as the original "BCS Buster," finishing the season 12-0 and No. 4 in the AP rankings.

He then parlayed that success into a solid NFL career, playing with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs before being traded to the Redskins in 2018 — which was followed by that fateful day in November when he was sacked by Houston’s J.J. Watt.

“No NFL player has ever been through what Alex Smith has,” Andy Tennant, E60 executive producer, said in a news release. “He’s normally a very private person but he wanted to document his road to recovery as well and as detailed as possible, with the hope that future players could use it as a road map. The access that he and his family granted to E60 is incredible and viewers will see a story of strength, dedication and perseverance.”

Among those participating in the E60 special are Urban Meyer, Smith's former coach at Utah, and Andy Reid, Smith's coach at Kansas City who won a Super Bowl last season.

The story will also dive deep into Smith's mindset throughout the process, and how he forever stayed positive — something reflected on by his wife Elizabeth when she saw Alex throw the ball again.

“To watch him light up, to watch him get that inner drive again,” she told Bell, saying it was something she hadn’t seen since the injury. “He kept his gratitude, he kept good perspective but not so much that drive. But I saw it again.”

Regardless of whether or not Smith returns to the field, his story is one of success and perseverance and will serve as a reminder for how powerful the human spirit lies within all of us.

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