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Jake Smith grows at Oklahoma Baptist

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People around town might not recognize him when they see him close up. Former Goddard football player, Jake Smith has put on 20 pounds of muscle and is rocking a mullet. The fact that he is away from home and playing college football has been good for him.

Former Goddard football player Jake Smith is playing tackle at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. (Submitted Photo)

For Jake, being away from home has helped him to grow up and mature. He knows that there is a time and place for everything. Without anyone to make him go to class or tell him what to eat, Jake has had to discipline himself.

“Going to a small school in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and playing football has been an eye opener,” Jake said. “I love it up there and I’ve been having fun as well. I have been focusing on my grades and on the football field. I’ve gotten stronger and faster.”

Jake thought that his football days were over with after high school. He went to a football camp in Taos before his senior year and Oklahoma Baptist University was there. Jake felt like he did well at the camp and didn’t think anything else about it and played his senior year at Goddard. After the season was over with, Jake received a call from Bison’s offensive line coach Greg Gothard in January.

Gothard told him he thought he would be a good fit up at OBU and the school was going to offer him a scholarship. Once he visited the campus, Jake fell in love with the school and the small campus of 2,000 students felt like home to him.

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“I’m able to get a more personal connection with my professors,” Jake said. “All of my classes had 20 kids in there and maybe less. All my teachers care about me and the other students. OBU is known for their academics.”

Jake said his major, Health and Human Performance, is one of the hardest at the university. He would like to be a physical therapist or an athletic trainer when he is done playing football.

This past year the team has practiced and scrimmaged each other. On Mondays and Wednesdays were workouts, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were practice days and then on Nov. 4, they would hold scrimmages. The team did not play any games because of the coronavirus. Jake did not lose any eligibility and will be a red-shirt freshman next year.

He used this time to get faster, hit the weight room and to learn the details of being a versatile offensive lineman. Jake has been called a Swiss army knife by his offensive line coach, Greg Gothard. Coach Gothard likes Jake’s frame, at 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds. Coach feels like there is room for Jake to grow and put on more muscle.

“Jake is a great young man,” Gothard said. “We are thankful to have him in the Bison football family. Jake has worked at nearly all of the offensive line positions. Jake works hard on the field as well as the weight room, and I have no doubt he will continue to push himself to be his best.”

The Bison will hit another team in the spring, they will scrimmage Southern Missouri and the University of Central Oklahoma. They play in the Great American Conference and are Division II.

Jake Smith prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Robert Aragon during a game at the Wool Bowl. (Submitted Photo)

One of Jake’s favorite moments in his high school career was not a game, but in the summer of his senior year. He enjoyed getting up at 5:30 a.m., in June and July, listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and pulling ties with his teammates.

“At the time, it wasn’t fun,” Jake said. “Now that I look back on it, it showed true brotherhood and true camaraderie. Time goes so fast. One blink and you’re graduating. It’s like I spent four years here and it’s over.”

Jake’s favorite win was in his junior year, when they played against Santa Teresa. There was a tsunami that hit prior to the game. Jake felt playing in that game was like playing backyard football with his friends because of the condition the field was in. He enjoyed slipping and sliding around in the mud and Jake felt that he had a good game.

Jake feels like playing football at Goddard has prepared him for playing college football and life. Studying has been easier for him because the team has a mandatory study time from 7 to 9 p.m., on Mondays and Wednesdays on Zoom.

“I’m an adult now,” Jake said, “so, I have to figure a lot of things out on my own. The main thing is when times are tough, what are you going to do? Are you going to sit there and take it? Or are you going to fight back and be a better man because of it?”

The main difference in playing college football for Jake is technique. He wishes that he had hit the weights more in high school. Now, lifting is a must if he is to hold his own against grown men 21-22 years of age. His team now runs a lot of run-pass options. Jakes compares his college’s offense to Artesia.

The advice he would give to college athletes that want to play at the next level is to ball out.

“Put your heart and effort into playing,” Jake said, “if you really want to play college football, you can. Coaches will find you, but you have to put your heart and soul into playing. You have to ‘grind’ for it. You are not going to be given an opportunity for free.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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