It’s not every year that a Class 2A high school has a Division I college prospect on its roster, but Grandview coach Casey Walraven knew early on that he had a special talent in his young quarterback Zach Smith.
“I sat him down in the eighth grade and asked him about his dreams and aspirations,” Walraven said. “He said he wanted to play football at the highest level possible, and he has worked hard in the weight room and learning the game since then.”
The junior quarterback, who verbally committed to Baylor after attending a camp in June, is off to an impressive start through five games this season. He has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 1,731 yards and 20 touchdowns with only one interception. Those numbers include a video-game-like 491 yards passing and eight touchdowns in a 76-46 win over Maypearl.
That follows a sophomore season in which the 6-4, 220-pound Smith completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,940 yards and 33 touchdowns, and was named to the all-District 12-2A team.
“Zach has been phenomenal this year, but it’s expected of him,” Walraven said. “He’s a natural, very intelligent and as stong an arm as you want to see.”
Walraven, who likens Smith to Tom Brady, believes Smith possesses attributes that are beyond the norm for most high school quarterbacks.
“One of the highest compliments I can make is that with all the high-speed offenses today, Zach has the ability to slow the game down in his mind,” Walraven said. “He sees where we need to go with the ball and puts it there. He also is very good at using eye manipulation to move defenders.”
Smith’s selection of Baylor did not surprise Walraven.
“I knew Zach would be getting some interest from colleges,” Walraven said. “He was playing well and attending camps, so I asked him to make a list of five schools he would be interested in. Baylor was at the top of his list.”
Smith, who attended the opening game at McLane Stadium, said he is firmly committed to the Bears.
“I just really liked everything about it, the school, the atmosphere, the people” he said. “It felt like my hometown.”
Smith, who is well aware of the quarterback legacy at Baylor, added, “I really felt comfortable with all the coaches as well, Coach (Phillip) Montgomery and Coach (Art) Briles.”
Montgomery, the Bears’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was lead recruiter for Smith.
As far as Smith making the transition from the 3A high school level to Division I football, Walraven isn’t concerned.
“Sure there will be a learning curve and he’s going to see more athletic defensive backs,” he said. “But he’s also going to have a good offensive line and receivers that can go and get the ball.
“He doesn’t have that kind of athleticism here, so he has to focus on being very accurate, putting the ball on the money for our receivers. I think he’ll be able to relax at the next level and let it fly.”
Walraven also believes Baylor is a good fit for Smith.
“He’s kind of an old soul and wants to stay nearby, wants his family to be able to see him,” the coach said.
In addition to football, Smith also pitches and plays shortstop for the Grandview baseball team.