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Maine @BlackBearsFB’s Warren Smith: From the Sandlot to Star Quarterback

Aug 10, 2011, 4:46 PM EST

2011 CAA Football Feature Series
By Zach Burrus, CAA Communications

It’s not easy being the new guy. This adage is as applicable in sports as it is in any other facet of life. Well, that is unless you’re Scotty Smalls, who is quickly acclimated to his new adolescent life in Los Angeles by neighborhood baseball standout, Benny Rodriguez, in the cult classic “The Sandlot.” Thanks to Benny’s guidance and a good deal of resiliency, Smalls is able to make a largely seamless transition from the new kid to the neighborhood’s chosen one.

Maine senior quarterback Warren Smith, who actually formed a sandlot with his friends growing up, has much in common with the popular protagonist in his favorite flick. After Iona disbanded its football program following the 2008 season, Smith was also forced to make a move, in this case to continue playing the game he loves.

The disbandment of the Gaels’ program was shocking to the then-freshman, who had just become acclimated to college life and a new group of friends and teammates. Smith knew he wanted to continue playing, so when the fog of confusion cleared he began to search for a new place to call his collegiate home. The Forked River, N.J., native ultimately settled upon UMaine, where he was offered a scholarship. Smith also saw the Black Bears program as an opportunity to join a competitive team in a very competitive league.

Looking back, Smith sees his transition as a smooth one. He says, “The team made me feel welcome right away and we had a lot of great camaraderie. Everyone knew what my situation was.”

Smith’s move to UMaine also proved successful as a result of his solid work ethic. Smith says that while he was immediately accepted into his new program, he still felt he had something to prove to his coaches and teammates. His doggedness and dedication to the team were quickly conveyed by his willingness to not only attend team practices and workouts, but optional workouts and throw-arounds as well. Smith says his attitude was “if you work hard, before you know it they’ll accept you.”

Smith swiftly climbed the quarterback ranks and went on to start six games during the 2009 season. He acknowledges that it was a different ballgame playing in the Colonial Athletic Association, explaining, “It was a big learning experience. The game was a lot faster and the opponents were a lot better.”

He also credits his team for helping him find his way that fall. Says Smith, “Guys like [graduated seniors] Landis Williams and Mike Brusko were great in the wide receiver corps and [senior] Tyrell Jones and [offensive coordinator and quarterbacks] Coach Bourgoin helped me develop as a quarterback going into my junior year. It was a rollercoaster after beginning my starting career against Syracuse, but it was a great learning experience.”

The rollercoaster ride has since settled and Smith has all but found his stride now as a seasoned veteran. As is often naturally the case with quarterbacks, he has also come to be considered the team leader, which is a role Smith readily welcomes.

“As a senior quarterback the ball is in my hands every day, so my role is to lead the offense in every game and in every practice. We have to score points and can’t turn the ball over, so I’m putting the burden on myself… The quarterback takes the team as far as it goes, which puts the stress on me. You’ve got to want the ball in the end and I do. So that’s my role, to be the team leader on the field and in the locker room.”

This last point is key in looking at the leadership style of Smith, who is as much a leader off the field as he is in the pocket. He is the quintessential natural born leader and understands the end result of strong leadership and a powerful team bond.

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