Zach Smith has support of hometown as he debuts at QB for Baylor

Published: Nov. 17, 2016 at 8:36 PM CST
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Zach Smith will be the quarterback leading the Baylor Bears this weekend against Kansas State.

It was not the plan that the coaching staff had for Smith, but when injury took out starting quarterback Seth Russell, it was Smith’s chance to lead the offense.

Saturday will be a big stage for the true freshman, who less than a year ago was playing high school football in front of an audience of just a few hundred people.

On Saturday, there will be thousands of people in the stands and even more watching from home as the game is broadcast across the country.

There is one town which will be watching closely, Grandview, just 45 minutes north of Waco that sits right off of Interstate 35.

With a population just over 1,300, Grandview provided the perfect small-town stage to launch Smith’s football career under the high school’s head football coach, Casey Walraven.

"What you see with Zach is what you get and it’s something special,” Walraven said.

“He really set the bar high for people to come after him and the people that watched him play.”

Smith was the varsity quarterback for the Grandview Zebras for three years and his former teammates like Austin Jarrell and Payton Price described him as a both a leader and friend.

"We were confident because he was confident, and we knew he was going to get the job done and get the ball to us,” Jarrell said.

Smith was also one of the most highly recruited players Grandview High School has ever seen.

"He had a lot of schools looking at him,” Walraven said.

“They saw his academics, they saw the intangibles that you want in a quarterback like arm strength and size and once they talked to him they understood his intelligence.”

He committed to Baylor University and enrolled in the spring to begin classes and start practicing with Baylor during the off-season

Baylor planned to red shirt Smith his freshman year but when then backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham announced he was leaving Baylor, Smith became the new backup for the bears.

"He knows and he always knew that he had to be ready at a moment’s notice and I know he is very excited about the opportunity he is getting,” Walraven said.

When he takes his first snap against Kansas State, his former teammates and coach will be watching.

"As a kid you grow up and you want to (play college football) and when you see one of your best friends getting to do that, it is just really exciting,” Price said.

Regardless of the score at the end of the game versus Kansas State, the town of Grandview will be proud of Smith.