Ever driven five hours for a 10-minute commitment and felt more honored than bound by duty?
That's exactly how first-year Ohio State football assistant Zach Smith felt Tuesday when he delivered his speech to local high school football players in Perrysburg.
Smith said he is living a dream as a coach for his favorite boyhood team. Forgive the 27-year-old if he is still getting used to making appearances across Ohio as the … guest of honor.
"It was always in my head that coaching at Ohio State would be the most amazing thing to happen," said Smith, who graduated from Dublin Coffman High School outside Columbus. "Shoot, since I was born, really, I just thought about how cool it would be."
Smith addressed players who will be competing in the Regional All-Star Football Game on Friday at Perrysburg's Steinecker Stadium. Channeling the fire of his grandfather, former Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce, he challenged the group to make the most of their lives -- including the opportunity to play one last high school game.
"I mean this from the bottom of my heart," he told the players. "I would give everything I have to go play another Friday night under the lights. Have fun, man. It is a fun game. It's fun to coach, but it's even more fun to play."
Smith, though, is getting along just fine on the sidelines in a charmed but peripatetic career that began just up the road.
Knowing he wanted to coach, Smith walked on to Bowling Green as a receiver in 2002 to learn under then-Falcons coach Urban Meyer -- a former Bruce understudy -- then transferred to Kentucky after the season when Meyer left for Utah.
Smith transferred again in 2005 to reunite with Meyer at Florida, where he spent five seasons as graduate assistant and quality control assistant.
Smith coached the receivers for a year apiece at Marshall and Temple before Meyer called this winter to offer him the same position at Ohio State.
"I know what a quality coach he is," Meyer said at the time. "He knows my system inside and out, and he teaches the system the way I want it to be taught."
Smith, who is charged to develop a group of receivers that remain one of the Buckeyes' largest question marks, still at times cannot believe his good fortune.
In the spring, he began posting a series of messages on Twitter about his affinity for OSU. A sampling from #BuckeyeNationProblems:
■ "Do you ever have meetings about what National Trophy to move to make room for the next one?"
■ "Trying to decide if you want to watch the game on the field -- or on the 1,600 INCH HD SCOREBOARD."
■ "Ever work on a Saturday and get Excited about it?"
"It's an exciting time for Ohio State," Smith said before the speech. "This state has always been so supportive of the program … and just kind of getting out here in the state, you really feel it. People are excited.
"They can't wait. This is their team and all of the excitement and the momentum that we have right now is electrifying the state."
As for whether his trip to northwest Ohio featured any "Buckeye Nation Problems," Smith needed little time to consider.
"Any time you get around the high school coaches in the state," he said. "Our high school coaches in this state are as good or better than most coaches at any level. That would be considered a Buckeye Nation Problem because not a lot of states are like that. To have such phenomenal coaches at the high school level, it's unbelievable."
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @RBriggsBlade.