Archive for Thursday, October 1, 2009

Basehor-Linwood grad gives KU football team a boost

October 1, 2009

Alex Smith is having a ball playing football at Kansas University.

He might not ever start a game, or play an extended amount of time on Saturdays at Memorial Stadium, but Smith is proud to be a Jayhawk.

He is on the scout team, charged with the task of learning an opponent’s playbook and running offensive plays.

“Every week, we learn the new offense on the scout team,” he said. “It changes each week; we have a new set of plays to run and learn.”

After learning the plays, Smith has to run them for the week leading up to the game.

While you likely won’t see him on the field during a game, fans can tell how well Smith did his job during a game on Saturday by how well the Kansas defense is performing in a game. If the KU defense is having a good game, Smith and his fellow scout-teamers likely did their job well.

Such is the life of a member of the scout team.

Smith graduated from Basehor-Linwood High School in 2006 after playing for coach Steve Hopkins.

Hopkins said Smith was a talented player, but just a littler shorter than what a lot of NCAA Division I prospects might resemble. He was one of the first players to buy into Basehor-Linwood’s weight room regimen and developed nicely as a player.

Other colleges recruited Smith during his senior year. He took a couple campus visits but then let the colleges know of his decision. Smith let other colleges know early on he intended to walk on at Kansas, so he didn’t receive a lot of scholarship offers.

Instead, he chose to follow his heart and go to school at KU as a student and then walk on to the football team. He made the team as a freshman and has been on the roster ever since.

“It is something I always wanted to do was play football for KU,” he said. “It was always my dream to do this, and it worked out good.”

Playing on scout team might not seem like the most glamorous thing in the world to athletes in search of playing time, but he enjoys the opportunity to contribute in any way he can.

“When I watch the game, I definitely watch the defense play against the opponent’s offense,” he said. “Even though I am an offensive player, (with) me as a scout team member, I helped prepare the team for the defense that week.”

Smith said he enjoyed being a part of the team.

“Probably because I have good teammates and coaches,” he said. “We are a tight knit group … like a family. No matter if on the scout team or starting, all of us contribute. When we win, you still know you contributed to help win the game.”

Winning helps, as well.

Kansas finished 6-6 in Smith’s first year. The next season, Kansas played in the FedEx Orange Bowl.

“It was a breakthrough year and great to be a part of that,” he said. “Last year, we had a decent season, going to the Insight bowl.”

The Jayhawks look to be contenders in the Big 12 North Division race this season, vying for a spot in a BCS bowl game and a chance to play in the conference title game.

“I think this year we have a chance to be pretty successful, too,” he said. “We definitely want to win the non-conference games and do the best we can against conference rivals. We definitely want to go to the Big 12 Championship.”

Kansas is 4-0 this season and has a bye week on Saturday. Conference play will begin Sept. 10 against Iowa State.

In addition to playing football, Smith is taking 12 hours of class. He is majoring in communications with a minor in business.

After class, he goes to practice and meetings and tutoring sessions on some nights. Days are packed with responsibilities, but Smith dismisses the notion that college football is like a job. He wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

“It is a big responsibility, but not a business or a job, because we love to do it,” he said. “We are playing football. We are not soldiers that are overseas in Afghanistan or anything. We are playing a game, trying to have fun. We don’t look at it as a business.”

While he dutifully learns opponents’ plays and runs the offense accordingly, he will be ready to play when called upon.

“I am trying to stay prepared and see if my name is going to be called out,” he said. “I am not sure right now, just trying to work my way up.

Taking the path of a walk-on might not be for everyone, but Smith has enjoyed his experience.

“I think everyone’s situation is different. This is something I wanted to do and it worked out for me,” he said. “If playing football after high school is something want to do and you want to play Division I, then you should try it.”

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