HOOVER, Ala. -- Justin Smith announced his retirement from the NFL earlier this year, but the former San Francisco 49ers star might not be away from football much longer. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Smith, who played at Missouri from 1998-2000, is considering joining the Missouri coaching staff as an assistant in the weight room.
"I think he wants to get involved in the weight room a little bit with our players and help us out," Pinkel said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. "That would be great if he can do that. He would be a tremendous asset to us."
Smith retired from the 49ers in May after a 14-year career, the first half of which was with the Cincinnati Bengals. Pinkel's appreciation for Smith was evident when news of the retirement broke:
Pinkel said Smith is building a ranch in Columbia, Mo. In his last year at Missouri in 2000, Smith posted a remarkable season statistically with a team-high 81 tackles, 24 for losses, and 11 sacks.
"He's from (Jefferson) City, the state capital, about 25 miles south of Columbia. He's going to be living right in Columbia and we'd love to have him come back," Pinkel said. "I talked to Andy Hill, who recruited him, our quarterback coach, and we'll see."
Smith's presence would certainly do nothing to hurt Missouri's burgeoning reputation as a factory for NFL-caliber defensive linemen. Defensive ends Shane Ray, Markus Golden, Kony Ealy and Michael Sam have all been drafted from Missouri in the last two drafts, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was the No. 13 overall pick in 2013.