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Hunter Smith juggles school and football

| Thursday, November 12, 2015

Smith 20150919, Erin Rice, Georgia TechErin Rice | The Observer

Prior to making the decision to attend Notre Dame, senior holder and long snapper Hunter Smith said football wasn’t the highest priority during his college search. He was more concerned with looking at top academic institutions like Duke and Virginia, schools closer to home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Smith said it was his high school offensive line coach who finally convinced him. The coach asked Smith if he wanted to play football in college, and he thought, ‘Why not?’ so he sent a highlight tape to all of the schools he applied to. He received interest back from MIT, North Carolina, Virginia and Carnegie Mellon, who all offered him a walk-on spot.

Smith decided to attend to Notre Dame as a non-athlete, though, because he said he saw himself fitting in at Notre Dame, whether it was as a regular student or as a student-athlete.

He wasn’t on the team as a freshman, so Smith said he was able to watch the BCS Championship Game as a fan and also experience the normal college social life for a bit before earning a spot on the squad entering his sophomore year.

Smith said it was a big step up in intensity for him in moving from his high school program to a prestigious college football one. He did not see the field that season but played in eight of the 13 games last season as a junior, including successfully holding for three extra-point attempts and two field goals against Florida State.

Smith said balancing being on the football team while also majoring in chemical and bio-molecular engineering has been a challenge, but that the experience has, among other things, helped him drastically improve his time-management skills.

Smith 20130909, Erin Rice, Hunter SmithErin Rice | The Observer

“I’m still working on it,” Smith said jokingly. “[I leave] the [Guglielmino Athletics Complex] and go straight to the library almost every night.”

Smith said one of his most distinct memories as part of the Notre Dame football program is the game against Florida State last season.

“That was an unreal game,” he said. “Playing in that environment with some of my best friends under the pressure of two top-10 teams, national television and playing under the lights — it was unreal.”

As for his plans after graduation, Smith said he plans to apply to medical school.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully becoming a doctor; I’m thinking a pediatrician,” he said. “I love working with kids.”

Smith added he enjoys the idea of the doctor-patient relationship in pediatric medicine but that he is also considering being a cardiologist or allergy immunologist, although a career as an orthopedic surgeon isn’t out of the question either because he could connect with the sports side of medicine.

Smith said special teams players spend a lot of time together and get along well due to their strong work ethic and ability to understand each other. He and fellow senior and long snapper Scott Daly are roommates, and Smith said he’s also close with junior kicker John Chereson.

“We’ve been together for a long time, and I have an amazing time with [Chereson],” Smith said. “He’s a goof-ball and just a pretty funny guy.”

Smith mentioned former teammates Jude Rhodes and Kyle Brindza for mentoring him during their time with the team. Smith said Rhodes, who was also a walk-on, looked out for him during his first semester.

He said his time at Notre Dame will stay with him for the rest of his life, and he credits the school as having a huge influence over his life.

“It’s been an amazing three-and-a-half, four years,” Smith said. “I think it has definitely helped form me as a person and shaped me into the man I am. I have learned that the good and the bad all come together and it’s not all going to be perfect and go great all the time, but it’s been an amazing experience.

“I have a ton of great memories and a lot of amazing friends that will last a lifetime.”

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