This is going to sound like a segue to an ESPN 30 for 30 episode but: What if I told you there was a 6-foot, 235-pound linebacker in the state of West Virginia who runs a 4.6 40, made Second Team All-State as a junior and was invited to the Army National Combine as a freshman. Would you know who it was?
There are multiple reasons you have yet to hear of Hedgesville’s Gavin Smoot. The eastern panhandle has been dominated by Martinsburg High School in recent years. Also, the last player to come out of Hedgesville to wear the Old Gold and Blue was Frank Aliveto in 1997. And probably most importantly, Hedgesville football has been a doormat on the field up until last season, when first-year head coach Joey Yurish took the Eagles to the state playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years.
But if you watch game film, you will see that opposing schools know Smoot.
“Teams gameplan around Gavin, just look at the Martinsburg game last season (2016),” Yurish said of Smoot’s effectiveness on the field. “He has been the focal point of Hedgesville football for the last three seasons.”
Smoot believes that one recent Mountaineer may have helped paved the way for unknown players in the state.
“Justin Arndt has been a big influence on me,” Smoot stated. Arndt, from Martinsburg, took the hard road to becoming a team captain at WVU. He was an undersized walk-on before working his way into the top of the Mountaineers’ depth chart as a scholarship player.
Coach Yurish believes Smoot fits that mold: “He is the main reason Hedgesville has turned around, and Gavin wants to leave the program successful. I believe Gavin has what it takes to play at the next level and WVU is where he wants to be.”
So why WVU?
“I don’t know if there is anyone in this state that wants to be a Mountaineer more than me,” the senior said proudly. “It’s the atmosphere, it’s the fight song, the team running out of the tunnel. I’ve been a Mountaineer my whole life.”
Smoot knows the challenges that await him.
“I need to work on my foot speed and get faster,” he acknowledged when asked about playing at the next level.
One place where Smoot is above the curve is his strength. Entering his senior season, Smoot is benching 285, dead lifts 550 and squats 475.
“He is one of the hardest workers in the weight room,” Yurish said of Smoot’s work ethic.
Smoot is also getting looks from other schools. Ohio has shown the biggest interest with Toledo and Cornell close behind. He plans on attending camps this summer at WVU and Marshall, among others. Smoot will also compete in the WVU 7-on-7 tournament this coming weekend in Morgantown. His hope is that his ability on the field will catch the eye of the Mountaineers.
(Feature photo courtesy of Gavin Smoot.)