|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Riley reunites with former quarterback

    OSU coach will be on other side of field from BSU aide Smith
  • HONOLULU — There's a story Oregon State football coach Mike Riley likes to tell about his former quarterback, Jonathan Smith, and it goes something like this:
    • email print
    • HAWAII BOWL
      WHEN, WHERE: Today, 5 p.m., Honolulu, Hawaii.
      • TV: ESPN.
      • RADIO: WOLF (105.1-FM).
      » Read more
      X
      HAWAII BOWL
      WHEN, WHERE: Today, 5 p.m., Honolulu, Hawaii.

      • TV: ESPN.
      • RADIO: WOLF (105.1-FM).
  • HONOLULU — There's a story Oregon State football coach Mike Riley likes to tell about his former quarterback, Jonathan Smith, and it goes something like this:
    Back in 1997, the Beavers were recruiting Dustin Janz, an offensive lineman from Glendora High School in southern California. Riley went down to meet Janz, but his assistants said he should also take a look at Glendora's quarterback, a guy by the name of Jonathan Smith.
    When Smith walked in the room, all 5-foot-10, 165 pounds of him, Riley had one thought: There's no way this guy can play Pac-10 football. But they got to talking, and Riley found out Smith wanted to play college football partially because he loved the game, but also because he dreamed of coaching someday. Riley identified and empathized with that.
    "Frankly, that's me," said Riley, a bench-warmer at Alabama in the early 1970s. "I encouraged him to walk on and offered him an official visit trip. I said, 'If you ever get to second string, I'll offer you a scholarship.'"
    On Oct. 24, 1998, he earned it.
    Riley inserted Smith midway through the second quarter in a game at Washington, with the Beavers trailing 17-7. Turns out, the little guy could play. Smith proceeded to throw for 469 yards in a 35-34 loss, a game that Mike Riley attributes to "the resurgence of Oregon State football."
    The Beavers might have lost, but they went for two at the end, a silent communication from Riley that they belonged in this conference. Two seasons later, with Riley gone to the NFL, Smith led the Beavers to one of the biggest wins in program history with a 41-9 victory over Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.
    "We have so much respect and love, just everything, for Jonathan," Riley said. "I was really excited for him to get to work with Chris (Petersen)."
    Of course, Riley probably isn't too excited at the prospect of going up against one of his former players because Smith has turned into a pretty good coach.
    Today, when the Beavers meet the Boise State Broncos in the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium, it will be a reunion of sorts for Riley and Smith, two guys credited with getting Oregon State football back on track.
    And the fact that Smith — who is reportedly joining Petersen at UW as quarterbacks coach as soon as this season is over — will coach an Oregon guy in Central High graduate Grant Hedrick, the Broncos' starting quarterback for the bowl game, means there are plenty of ties to the Willamette Valley. Central is in Independence.
    Oh, and Smith still drops by the Valley Football Center occasionally to chat with Riley because his grandma lives in Corvallis.
    Got all that?
    "Man, I learned a ton from him," said Smith, who worked as a graduate assistant for Riley from 2002-03. "He's got so much wisdom; I do lean on him for advice quite a bit.
    "I remember him talking about, 'If you're happy, stay happy,' and dealing with players and teaching them, that stuck with me."
    The past couple seasons, Smith's been busy trying to teach Hedrick how to be "The Guy." The junior has played in all 12 games this season, completing 135 of 198 passes for 1,443 yards and 15 touchdowns. There's a little bit of Smith in Hedrick, a 6-0, 202-pound junior who has plenty of memories involving the Beavers. Some of them even include Smith.
    "Oh yeah, I remember when I was little, watching him in Civil War games and looking up to him as a big-time player," said Hedrick, whose parents are trying to plan a last-minute trip to watch him play. "It was always cool to see a guy about my same size do great things. Obviously it's neat having him coach me."
    Hedrick will take the reins by himself this week, as senior quarterback Joe Southwick was sent home Friday night for allegedly urinating off a hotel balcony. On Friday, at Broncos' practice with both Southwick and backup quarterback Nick Patti suspended indefinitely, Hedrick took every snap with the first and second team (true freshman Richard Hoppe worked with the scout team, as he has done all season).
    "Yeah, it was a lot of reps," he laughed. "I was pretty gassed."
    Before Southwick was sent home, Hedrick expected both of them to play. Now, he's the only truly experienced option.
    Hedrick admitted that Southwick's suspension has been a distraction for a team already dealing with plenty of them: Boise State will be led by interim coach Bob Gregory before Bryan Harsin takes over following the bowl game.
    "Mentally, it's been draining, with all the changes," Hedrick said.
    Despite all that, Smith still sees Hedrick as someone who can get it done today.
    "The way he prepares, he's a guy who gives a lot of effort," said Smith, who wore No. 9 at OSU, the same number that Hedrick wears now. Sometimes, when a teammate calls out "Niner!" to Hedrick, Smith still turns his head.
    "He's got good talent, and he's a guy who's played a lot of football," Smith said. "And he's gotten better each week."
    Sounds familiar.
Reader Reaction

      calendar