Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
As the grandson of former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, and attending high school just outside Columbus, Zach Smith grew up surrounded by Buckeye football.
Now a football coach himself, Smith was named to OSU football coach Urban Meyer’s staff as wide receivers coach on Dec. 22, returning to his home state and grandfather’s former school.
“It’s a dream job, it’s something that you live your whole life hoping that you get and when you do, there’s obviously a lot of pressure in that,” Smith said at an introductory press conference for the assistant coaches Jan. 12. “But what the heck, if you don’t do it to get your dream job, what do you it for, right?”
Smith graduated from Florida in 2007, and worked as a graduate assistant and quality control coach for the Gators under Meyer from 2005-2009. He also served as receivers coach and special teams coordinator at Marshall University in 2010 and held the same roles at Temple last season. He helped lead the Owls to a 9-4 record in 2011, as well as a 35-17 win against Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 17. His receivers compiled 1,648 yards throughout the season.
“(Smith) has already coached with me for five seasons, and so I know what a quality coach he is,” Meyer said. “He knows my system inside and out, and he teaches the system the way I want it to be taught.”
At 27, Smith is the youngest member of the coaching staff, which he referred to as a “dream team” of coaches. Although Smith admitted a sense of awe in being a part of that group, he said he is qualified for the challenge.
“The fact that coach Meyer thought that highly of me to bring me to this great university when he really could have hired anybody in the country is really flattering,” Smith said. “But at the same time, I know that I’ve earned it and I know I’ll do a great job for him.”
Smith will earn $150,000 for performing his duties as a Buckeye assistant during 2012.
After losing 2010 leading receiver Dane Sanzenbacher to graduation, and with senior DeVier Posey missing the first 10 games due to a pair of five-game suspensions, wide receiver was arguably the most inexperienced position on the Buckeyes’ roster throughout this past season. Going into 2012, OSU will return its entire receiving corps apart from Posey.
“I think that the best thing that happened for my group is that they got a lot of experience at a young age,” Smith said. “They’ve been in the battle and they know what it’s like to play these other teams, to play in all these great stadiums in the Big Ten and to play in front of 108,000 people at Ohio State. It’s really an asset for them and for me as a position coach because I know that I have guys who have been through it and done it. It’s obviously one of the things that we can build off of this coming year.”
Blocking and playmaking ability are the two most important traits he looks for in his receivers, Smith said.
“We’ll be the best blocking receivers in the country,” he said. “Then you have to be able to make big plays, got to be able to catch the ball and make something happen. Those are the two things, if you can’t do those things you’re not going to be on the field.”