Smith shows signs of bright future
Fenwick junior Ryan Smith (89) can't make the catch during a home game against St. Rita at Morton West High School in Berwyn on Sept. 8. Smith caught two touchdown passes Friday. | michael jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Names and Faces
The senior linebacker/running back did it all in Fenwick’s 21-18 overtime win over Bishop McNamara Friday. He rushed for 50 yards in the first half and the linebacker also finished with 12 tackles, three pass break-ups and a fumble recovery on defense. JACK ALBERTS
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:59PM
Fenwick junior Ryan Smith has been told by many people that he has the potential to play Division I football.
He’s finally starting to believe it himself.
“That would be awesome,” Smith said. “I’ve heard it from coaches and family members, but I know I’ve got to keep working hard and give it 110 percent all the time.”
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end had a breakout performance Friday.
He caught four passes for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns to help the Friars rally to knock off Bishop McNamara 21-18 in overtime.
“It’s the kind of game we’ve been waiting for from Ryan,” Fenwick coach Geno Nudo said. “Personally, I think he’s a prospective Division I tight end. He had an excellent summer catching the ball. He just needed some positive things to happen to get confidence and get his mojo going. From this point forward, I expect to be seeing and hearing a lot about him.”
Smith started playing football in seventh grade with the Oak Park-River Forest Huskies Youth Football program.
Despite being a quick learner, he had mixed emotions about his first season.
“I didn’t enjoy it that much,” Smith said. “Then, in eighth grade, we started doing well as a team and I started loving the sport. Coming to Fenwick, I knew I wanted to play tight end. I thought I had a lot of potential. Coach Nudo has been a great help getting me to where I’m at now.”
Smith believes he has the ability to play at the next level and won’t stop working until he reaches the goal.
“I’m working on getting bigger and faster,” said Smith, who is in his first varsity season. “People tell me I have good hands and run routes well. I’m able to make plays and I’m bigger than most linebackers, which helps. If I get in the open field I can usually make a play. The first few games I was a little shaky and nervous, but after we lost to St. Rita, I started to think I had the potential to be great.”
One area Smith is looking to improve in is blocking.
Nudo implemented a new offense in his first season at the helm.
“We’re expecting players to think on the fly and adjust their blocking,” Nudo said. “Ryan had a really good game blocking Friday. I think it’s finally starting to click for him.”
Smith also benefits from having some familiar faces on the field.
His cousins Robert Spillane, Danny Lattner and John Lattner are teammates.
“I love it,” Smith said. “Every day I get to see them and practice with them. The whole family comes to our games to cheer us on. It’s magical.”
Fenwick (3-1), which trailed 18-3 Friday before winning its Chicago Catholic League White opener on a 22-yard field goal by Zach Laszkiewicz in overtime, takes on St. Laurence (1-3) Saturday night at Morton West Stadium. ~.