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Bobcat center Smith follows in father’s footsteps

March 10, 2013
By TROY HYDE - T-R Assistant Sports Editor (thyde@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

Marshalltown senior center Zach Smith had three choices when it came to deciding where he would continue his football career.

All three featured a good coaching staff. And they were all relatively close to home.

But in the end, the place that was closest to home, offered the most scholarship money and was the same college his father attended won out.

Article Photos

Contributed photo
Marshalltown High School senior Zach Smith (seated center) signed to play football at William Penn earlier this week. Joining Smith at the signing were (front row from left) his parents Randy and Kim Smith and (standing from left) William Penn assistant coach Brad Griffin, Marshalltown assistant Aaron Shipley, William Penn graduate assistant Aaron Richards and Marshalltown assistant Kirk Brooks.

The winner: William Penn.

"It was a difficult choice for sure," Smith said. "They are all good schools. But I just liked William Penn's home feel. They have also made some good upgrades to their facilities and I really like the MUSCO lighting."

Smith, a two-year starter at center for the Bobcats, visited William Penn in Oskaloosa four times during his final two years of high school and received a scholarship offer on January 21. That was enough to convince the Bobcat senior that being a Statesmen was the right decision. He picked William Penn over conference rival St. Ambrose and Coe College.

"I think William Penn is a great fit for Zach and I fully expect him to step right in and contribute," former MHS coach Dave Holdiman said.

Smith is unsure whether he will play in his first season or redshirt. He knows he will need to develop into more of a run blocker in college.

He needed to be accurate with a shotgun snap in high school with the up-tempo, fast-paced Bobcat offense.

That will change in college as the Statesmen's offensive philosophy is based more around running the ball out of a wing T.

"They run a lot of triple option and are more of a power offense," said Smith. "As an offensive linemen, we like to run block and grind it out. Run blocking is fun."

Smith will play somewhere on the offensive line, but William Penn's coaching staff told him they will put him wherever he fits best.

As a center at Marshalltown, he had to be counted on every single snap to make sure the high paced offense begins with no problems.

"Every play begins with the snap and he was very accurate," Holdiman said. "He had very few miscues and we could count on him every snap. It was automatic. He blocked well for us and did an outstanding job in a critical spot."

While Smith knows he will have to get used to more of a grind-it-out style of offense, he credits the frenetic pace of the Bobcat offense with where he is today.

"The quicker paced offense helped me keep my speed up and helped me with my conditioning," Smith said. "I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today without that fast-paced offense."

Smith said there is a good chance he starts out on the junior varsity when he arrives on campus in the fall. He even said he may use his first season as a developmental year.

"I definitely need to develop more speed, strength and agility," said Smith, whose dad played guard and tackle for William Penn from 1975-1978. "It's a great honor though to be able to play football in college. I feel humbled. I worked hard for years with the hopes this could happen. I am glad I am getting to play at the next level."

Smith plans on majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in business.

William Penn went 9-3 last year and finished 5-1 in Mid-States Football Association play.