HUNTINGTON - Channing Smith, a former Tug Valley and Pike County Central lineman, is getting first team reps this spring for Marshall University.
Smith, a redshirt freshman, who is listed as a walk-on, is moving up the depth charts for the Thundering Herd. Smith has been moved to center because of injuries to other players on the roster.
Smith played for his father, Mike Smith, at Tug Valley High School during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He then moved with his father, who became an assistant at Pike County Central, and transferred to Kentucky for his final two high school seasons. (Mike Smith is now the head football coach at nearby Tolsia High School)
“It’s been a good spring,” Smith said. “I think I have made some progress.”
Smith was needed because starter Chris Jasperse had back surgery and sophomore James Allen also had injuries. So Smith stepped up and has been getting first team snaps at center. He should see plenty of action at the Green-White Spring game this Saturday.
Bill Legg, who is Marshall’s offensive coordinator and one of the line coaches, told a Charleston newspaper, “We got lucky that he was willing to walk on. He showed us last fall he’s a guy that has a very, very bright future.”
Smith is 6-foot-4 and weighs in about 280 pounds. During high school he played on both sides of the football. But it appears he has found a spot on the offensive side of the line for MU.
“It’s not been much of an adjustment,” Smith said. “During high school I played all along the offensive line.”
Like most walk-ons, Smith played on the scout team last year. Of course the injured players will be back by the start of pre-season practice and the Herd has also signed a Florida product, Cameron Dees. However, you are always just an injury away from getting out on the field. That’s why teams, especially in football, have depth charts.
Jasperse has also taken reps at guard. Most lineman need to be versatile and be able to move around. That gives coaches options because of game situations and injuries.
“For the most part, I think things should stay the same going into the fall,” Smith said.
Legg stated that the staff wanted to keep Smith at center so he could stay focused on one job and learn the position.
Smith turned down several offers from smaller colleges to walk on at Marshall. He originally had planned to walk on at West Virginia University, but after the coaching change up there, he decided to attend Marshall.
“I wanted to play Division One football. I thought I had the skills to play at this level,” Smith said after a break from classes at MU. “That was my dream.”
Smith will likely earh a scholarship as he continued to improve and get more playing time.
He said his family is happy he decided to play closer to home.
Smith keeps working hard and it will assuredly pay off come fall and in the future for the Herd. He is making an impression in Huntington and his future is bright.