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Michael Conroy, AP
Kansas City Chiefs' Alex Smith (11) calls a play during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Deseret News sports writer Dirk Facer caught up with former University of Utah quarterback Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith was Utah’s commencement speaker on Thursday.

Q: When the university asked you to be this year’s commencement speaker, what went through your mind? It’s obviously a big thing, but probably a scary thing as well.

A: “Both. You hit it right. One, what an honor right? It was very humbling for them to even ask. I’m only 10 years removed. Is it even appropriate? I’m all of a sudden some wise advice giver … and then if you say yes to it you’ve got to do it the right way and prepare and give a speech in front of a bunch of people. But obviously the honor outweighs whatever fear you have of speaking. That’s for sure.”

Q: Do you follow the Utes on Saturdays?

A: “Absolutely. Yes. Without a doubt. Yeah, no question. In every locker room I’ve been in or been a part of in the NFL, Saturdays are a special day — always — because everybody has so much pride in their schools and where they came from. … We all keep track of whose school is doing what. So no question, that’s a source of pride for all of us, and I think all the guys follow their schools respectively.”

Q: What do you think about the Utes being in the Pac-12?

A: “I grew up on the West Coast so I knew the history of the Pac-10 and grew up watching it. So for it to be the Pac-12 now and having Utah be a part of it is really, really special. No question I wish I could have had the opportunity to get to play in it.”

Q: Of all the individual accolades you’ve had, which is the most meaningful?

A: “Oh, easy. Easy. Hands down. I think it’s the All-American Player of the Year. School is something that is really, really important to me. Fortunately I’ve been able to play football now for 10 years, but without school, I mean, it’s really the tool for all of us to do what we want in life. … Student-athlete is a very special role and it’s something that I took a lot of pride in and to be the All-American Player of the Year my last year was one of the big ones for sure. That was an easy question for me.”

Q: What’s in your immediate future?

A: “I really love where I’m at in Kansas City and the area and the coaching staff and my teammates. For me, it’s continuing to put yourself in the playoffs, give yourself an opportunity to make a run at the Super Bowl — and that’s really what we’re all going for is the chance to be world champion, to be the best. To have that opportunity, it’s start with you’ve got to be able to punch your ticket to the playoffs and to be able to do that year in and year out and obviously eventually close one out and win the big one.”

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer