Jared Smith has fans at home and in Greencastle
Jared Smith literally saw his childhood goal come true, when he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks on April 27. But the 2008 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School has many people hanging onto his coattails, either because they supported him along the way, or because they are cheering him on for his professional football career. He is the first G-A gridder to be drafted.
Smith, 23, stands 6 feet, 4 inches, 300 pounds. His size has been a factor since he was a kid. Even so, mom Casey Machado didn't want Smith and his younger brother Derek playing football, which they did in the backyard.
"It was 'too dangerous'," quoted Smith from their Castlegreen Drive home. "She was a soccer coach and made us play soccer. After years of begging, she finally let us play football."
The two did well. They joined the youth league in Middlesex, PA, their home during his childhood. Smith was a running back, admittedly not very good. He remembered his number, 33, and his nickname, Twinkletoes.
"He wasn't that good in junior high," said Machado. "He was so big, he grew so fast. He was trying to catch up to his body."
The crew moved to Greencastle, and Smith went out for the ninth grade team under Don Chlebowski. He began to excel, said his mother.
Chlebowski remembered his size. He was 6-2 and 230 pounds. "For a freshman he was a big boy. He had a good attitude and was fun loving."
One highlight that year was when the Blue Devils were losing at Waynesboro. Smith stayed put during a surprise play from the competition, made a tackle and changed the momentum of the game. Greencastle won. Chlebowski witnessed that he could read the game and do the right thing.
The next three years Smith played varsity for Chuck Tinninis.
"He was a kid with unbelievable physical ability and talent. And he had the frame to put more weight on," said Tinninis. Smith was 260 by then.
He played both offensive and defensive tackle in high school, and came to every practice and game ready to work.
Machado was in the stands faithfully.
"She videotaped every game," said Smith.
She smiled as she recalled his comments those years. He kept saying he was going to college for football. "Sure, you are," she thought.
Machado was on board though, and found scouting combines for him to display his skills. At a Pittsburgh event, she saw that recruiters "were mesmerized by what he could do." She marketed him to colleges with the tapes. He played in the East/West game in Altoona. It all paid off. He got noticed.
Smith's senior year, the letters from colleges started arriving. While about 30 schools showed an initial interest, it winnowed to four who were serious. Two faded away but New Hampshire University offered a full-ride for a defensive tackle. Smith verbally committed. When West Virginia started talking, it was too late. Smith honored his word.
Chlebowski was a little worried that he went so far from home, an eight hour drive. "But he matured. He took advantage of his opportunity."
Tinninis had spoken to the NHU coach during the year and was told Smith would get a shot.
"He's so big and so fast. That's what separates him from the others. He tapped the potential he had."
Machado attended half the games his first two years, all but two the third, and made every one when he was a senior. Many involved flights across the country.
Her first clue that the NFL could be in her son’s future occurred during a Junior Pro Day in March 2012. College coaches only invited the best of the best. Three from NHU attended.
Machado is glad sports is still part of Smith's life, and therefore hers.
Both of her sons had played football and baseball. Derek was also an athlete at Shippensburg University.
"It's all I've ever seen," she said, "my boys playing sports. I was dreading not ever seeing them play again."
She is proud of Smith's accomplishments. One reward for her time and commitment is free NFL tickets to Seahawks games.
Smith is changing positions again. Seattle wants him on offense.
Tinninis said, "Now the challenge is mental. He has to learn the plays. We wish him luck. We're real proud of him. We're rootin' for him."
Chlebowski echoed the comments. "Everyone is so excited and taking pleasure in his success. We're pulling for him."
Meanwhile, back on the home front, sister Mackenzie Lewis, 13, was quite young during her brother's high school and college days. She is enjoying his success and had to collect an autograph for a classmate.
The family doesn't have much NFL gear yet, but will shop once the season gets rolling. Machado will cheer for her son's team, a favorite now, "aside from the Steelers," she confessed.
Smith went to Seattle last weekend for training, and will attend other rookie camps through June. He will be back in Greencastle in July, then return to his new home for preseason games. He is also looking at other aspects of life as an adult. Though he earned a degree in kinesiology, he plans to invest in the restaurant business.