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Being a Bellarmine Bell was always a dream of Wade Smith’s.
Smith was a ball boy at Bellarmine when he was younger. He was there to watch Bellarmine through some of its glory years, including when it went to state in 2015. He remembers Kyle Macauley. Troy Martig. Devon Buenrosto.
Now, five years later, Smith is a junior quarterback at Bellarmine, living out some of those early memories he always hoped would one day become him.
“It obviously brings back a lot of memories, just being a little kid at those games and looking up to the football players, just admiring how good the teams were,” Smith said. “And I think just living up and watching myself grow into that role has been pretty cool.”
When Smith’s parents allowed him to begin tackle football his freshman year, he was committed to the process. He wasn’t going to solely be focused on setting goals.
He wanted to enjoy the journey, and he wanted to enjoy every second of it as he chased his way to someday becoming Bellarmine’s starting quarterback, to someday becoming a college quarterback.
“I want to be a process-oriented player,” Smith said. “I don’t want to just work to have that success. I want to enjoy what I’m doing while I’m working at it.”
With that attitude, Smith has conjured up a lot of quick success as a Bell, including his first varsity season in 2019 when he was only a sophomore in one of the region’s toughest leagues – the West Catholic Athletic League.
Despite running the offense in the run-heavy Wing-T formation, Smith started eight games while Bellarmine was a Central Coast Section Division I quarterfinalist. He ended up as a second team all-league selection at the position.
And, most recently, Smith was named the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in California in the 2022 recruiting class by QB Hit List.
“I think once you become goal oriented, it’s not about getting better,” Smith said. “It’s about what you get by getting better. I like to be process oriented and like to enjoy the actual process of getting better.”
Smith consistently trains with a number of former college quarterbacks from the area, and he credits some of his rise to the work he’s done with the trio of Dru Brown, Austyn Carta-Samuels and KJ Carta-Samuels.
All three parlayed their high school success into roles at the next level. Brown, a 2015 graduate of Los Gatos High School, finished with 2,400-plus passing yards in his two seasons as a starter at Hawaii before transferring to Oklahoma State and becoming a team captain there. Austyn Carta-Samuels, formerly an assistant at the University of Missouri, is a graduate of Bellarmine and was a college quarterback at both Wyoming and Vanderbilt. KJ Carta-Samuels, Austyn’s brother, played collegiately at Washington and Colorado State.
“All of them have helped me grow tremendously,” Smith said. “I think once you train with a higher level of competition, I think you slowly rise to that level of competition. I think just like surrounding myself with people who have succeeded at the highest level has really helped me bring my game to the next level.”
The recruiting process has been slow for Smith thus far, but a number of schools have expressed interest in Wade and/or are following him on social media: Army, Cal, Cal Poly, Duke, Eastern Washington, Harvard, Sacramento State, San Diego State, UC Davis, Weber State and Yale.
But Smith produced less film as a passer in previous years in Bellarmine’s Wing-T offense, and with the new coaching staff under Jalal Beauchman changing the system to more of a spread and RPO system – like many colleges are running – that should create more film for colleges to see his throwing abilities.
“Obviously with the team with a small o-line, it’s pretty much the best offenses to run are between triple option and what we’re running, just a spread RPO zone,” Smith said. “I think obviously it’ll help us spread the ball horizontally, and it’ll just help us get the ball out faster, I think. We’re not a big team whatsoever.”
Where Smith has also grown is physically and mentally, utilizing these extra few months before the season to his advantage.
Bellarmine assistant Brennan Ronald said he received texts from defensive coordinator Joe Gigantino earlier this offseason regarding Smith stopping by Gigantino’s, whose father runs a weights and bars business. Sometimes Smith swung by once or twice, and Ronald said he’s also one of Bellarmine’s strongest athletes in the weight room.
“I think physically obviously I’ve put on weight, definitely been training a lot in the gym, a lot on the field,” Smith said. “Mentally, definitely I have improved the mental side of my game. I’ve been working on my defensive recognition stuff like that and just knowing the game inside and out, so I think that’s where mentally I’ve improved this offseason.”
For the 2021 winter/spring season, Smith has one goal in mind.
“Obviously the biggest goal is win,” Smith said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s just win this season. Me, I don’t have that many personal goals. I just want to see the team get better. I want to improve on what we did last year. I know we can. That’s pretty much the main thing.”
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