By LARRY VAUGHT
Instead of playing in West Virginia’s spring football game as he had thought he would be doing, former Boyle County standout Reese Smith went turkey hunting.
However, he still scored as he got two turkeys — the fifth and sixth of his hunting career going back to his first kill seven years ago.
“This was the first year I went on my own,” Smith said. “But when you have more time, that’s what you can do. I had been joking with my dad that if I knew all this was going to happen I wish I could have stayed and played basketball (at Boyle County).”
Smith graduated in December so he could enroll at West Virginia and get a head start on learning coach Neal Brown’s offense. Even though COVID-19 cancelled spring practice after two days and sent Smith back to Boyle, he has no regrets about his decision.
“I am glad I did it and got started on my college career,” Smith said. “I knew the winter (workouts) would be really tough and hard on my body. I knew if I could get through the first few weeks I would be good but it is so different from high school. Their workouts work all parts of your body. The workouts are more dynamic, more detailed. You run a lot harder than high school.
“The first couple of weeks were really tough on me. After that, I got into shape and when spring practice actually started I was in great shape. It seemed like I had been there a year.”
Smith had a distinguished career at Boyle. He’s the only Kentucky player to finish in the top five in career interceptions (26) and career touchdown receptions (64). His senior year he had 62 catches for 1,501 yards and 20 scores. During his career he had 185 tackles, 65 touchdowns and 4,378 receiving yards.
Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisville were some of the other schools that offered but he quickly accepted the offer from Brown, a former all-state receiver at Boyle just like Smith.
Smith says Brown is the “same guy” on campus as he was recruiting him.
“He was fired up to get us on campus early and get us started working,” Smith said.
Brown is keeping Smith busy at home, too. The strength coach sends workouts Monday through Friday. He lifts weights at his house and usually goes to Centre College for his field workouts. He has Zoom conferences both with his position group and the team each morning. At least two hours each afternoon are spent on academics along with studying film.
“I am lucky to squeeze in a few meals,” Smith joked. “Coach Brown is not taking it easy. He keeps us pretty buys because he wants us to work to get ahead so we are ready to play football whenever that is.”
He’s taking 13 credit hours which he says has not “been that bad” with the help he gets from the West Virginia academic staff.
Smith has tried to work on the farm some to make extra money. He also recently delivered some rock along with former Boyle teammate Hayden Bottoms to Chuck Smith, his coach for four years at Boyle.
“We have some creek rock, so we took him some. We talked and caught up a little bit which is always good to do with him because coach Smith did so much for my career,” Reese Smith said.