Zach Smith and his family made the drive to Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday afternoon for Alabama's Mr. Football awards. While Zach may have been a dark horse for the overall award of Mr. Football, he was certainly the favorite to win the award for "Back of the Year" for Alabama's 3A classification.
One would be hard pressed to find a high school football player with a more impressive statistical resume than Smith. With his name already in the state's record books as a record holder or leader in several offensive categories, Zach settled into his chair among the many worthy nominees knowing he belonged.
"It's a humungous honor to be named (3A back of the year)," said Zach. "I didn't have any feeling one way or the other. I was just real excited to be there and I felt honored to be nominated. Larry Smith won Mr. Football. He is in 6A and they won the state championship, so he deserved it."
As Zach was receiving the accolades for his high school career, he was also looking ahead to his collegiate career. He had a chance to sit down with Head Dawg Sylvester Croom this evening.
"I was very excited that Coach Croom came by," said Zach. "He is going to give me a shot at quarterback, but he has been in the pros and he thinks I can be a great free safety. He thinks I can come in and play some as a freshman. That's very exciting to hear. I am here to play whatever position he wants me to play. You can't tell your coach where you are going to play. Wherever he puts me I will bust my tail to be great there."
While Zach has not ruled out the chance to take snaps at the college level he is anxious to get on the field and contribute no matter his position.
"If I want to play quarterback he will let me, but he told me that he thought I could go the NFL and have a career there as a safety," said Smith. "He told me if that he has not going to waste a year with me just getting two or three snaps a game. If I can play and help the team early, I will. He is going to give me the MSU workout and I am going to work on getting as big and fast as I can."
A newspaper report surfaced recently that may have led readers to believe that Zach may not be firm in his commitment. Smith said come signing day there will no question about what school he sends his letter of intent to.
"I don't really know where he got that from, but I am committed to Mississippi State," said Zach.
Now that his high school days are over, Zach looks back fondly at how it all came together.
"As a kid I played at Hoover," explained Zach. "I played fullback and linebacker. One we moved up to Susan Moore I was playing on the ninth grade team as a seventh grader. I was on the team, but I wasn't playing much."
"Our starting quarterback got hurt and then our backup got hurt. They said I had some athletic ability, so they tried me at quarterback. Once they threw me out there in a game, I never looked back. I spent my seventh and eighth grade years on the ninth grade team and then when I got into the ninth grade I was playing quarterback for the high school."
Zach felt a lot of connection to people in his community and he took the mantle for the Susan Moore Bulldogs. In a lot of ways, Smith put Susan Moore back into the newspapers in places other than the boxscores.
"I just hope people remember me as a guy who loved to work and had a huge passion for the game," said Zach. "I hope people see me as a player who wanted to win more for the community than I did for myself. The tradition of Susan Moore football is so great. It got down there for a little bit and I am proud that our team brought it back and made it what it was supposed to be again."
The Susan Moore Bulldogs came up one win shy of playing for a 3A state championship. Zach is proud of his career and is not wasting anytime looking back wondering what might have been.
"It would have been great to win a state championship and have a big ring on my finger, but I have no regrets," said Smith. "It's been a great run and I am sad that it all came to an end. I will still be a Bulldog, but now I will be a Mississippi State Bulldog. I am very excited about that. Mississippi State beat Alabama, they lost to Ole Miss in the final seconds, they played the pants of Arkansas and they lost to Georgia on the last play of the game. They very easily could have been in a bowl. Practically the whole offense is coming back next year, so I think it will be fun to be part of it all at Mississippi State."
Know a big time player? Send me an e-mail at SRobertson@scout.com.