Smithson and Stewart earn NFL opportunities
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Outgoing Kansas players Fish Smithson and Brandon Stewart each earned the chance to continue their playing careers as the duo picked up free agent opportunities with National Football League (NFL) teams Saturday evening following the 2017 NFL Draft. Smithson, a safety, signed a free agent deal with the Redskins, while Stewart, who plays cornerback, agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Smithson took home first-team All-Big 12 honors from the conference coaches and second-team All-Big 12 accolades from the Associated Press in 2016. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, he led KU in tackles for the second-straight season with 93 total stops as a senior. He also led the Jayhawks and ranked third in the Big 12 with four interceptions. Smithson collected seven pass breakups to go along with his four picks and was also credited with two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 3.5 TFLs and 1.0 sack in his final season wearing the Crimson and Blue.
Smithson also had a standout junior campaign as he led the nation in solo tackles, averaging 7.9 stops per game. He picked up Second Team All-Big 12 honors by the league coaches after ranking 14th nationally in total tackles, averaging 10.1 per contest. Smithson claimed the top spot in the Big 12 Conference in tackles per game, while leading the Jayhawks in total tackles with 111 stops in 2015. He was first Kansas player since 1990 to make 10 or more stops in six-consecutive games.
Stewart started all 12 games at cornerback in 2016, collecting 25 tackles and eight pass breakups. He was instrumental in helping lead KU to a come-from-behind win over Texas as he scored on a 55-yard interception return. He finished his senior season with three interceptions and one tackle-for-loss.
As a junior, Stewart gathered 35 tackles, one forced fumble and a blocked kick, while starting nine games.
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