OREM — Mountain View football fans knew they had a pretty good punter coming back this season.
As a junior last year, Brian Smith let fly with a few boomers that left those on the football field and those in stands speechless. He booted one punt 80 yards and another 73 yards. But Smith took a back seat last season in placekicking to then-senior Brandon Black, who was one of Utah Valley's top kickers.
This season, however, Smith has taken over all of the Bruins kicking duties. So far, his placekicking is just as impressive, if not more so, than his punting.
"He has the strongest leg I've ever seen for a player on the high school level," Bruins coach Doug Meek said. "It's a very comforting thought as a coach to know that once you cross midfield that you have a legitimate shot every time to put points on the board."
In Mountain View's opening game at Payson, Smith booted a 42-yard field goal that sailed so far past the uprights that the kick would have easily been good from 25 yards farther out. In the Bruins' win over Springville he kicked a state-record five field goals — one was a personal best from 47 yards. He could have had a couple more chances in that game, but the Bruins chose to go for it on a fourth down after Smith was roughed up on a punt and then the Bruins simply ran the clock out at the end of the game deep in Springville territory.
"I've already told him that if we get in a position where we need a field goal and it would be a state record for the longest, we'll give him a shot because we know he can do it," Meek said.
In practice, Smith is successful on a regular basis from beyond 60 yards, which just happens to be the state mark set 35 years ago by Ross Caputo of Judge Memorial. He's deadly inside of 40 yards, one of the best between 40 and 50 yards, and confident that he'd make more than he'd miss from 50-60 yards. His kickoffs regularly sail through the goal posts and out of the end zone.
"That's pretty good defense when your opponent has to go 80 yards on every series," Meek said.
While Smith gives the Bruins coach a lot of reassurance, Meek says his talent might be too secure at times for the rest of Mountain View's offensive players.
"I worry that they sometimes take it for granted, that they might have that thinking that 'if we can't get it done, Brian can,' " Meek said.
Smith is still delivering his patented towering punts and he's improved greatly at placing kicks into the corner of the field. Most consider Smith, Timpview's David Jackson and Pine View's Riley Stephenson to be the state's best kickers.
"It's a natural ability for him, but he's also become much better because of the work he did during the summer and the coaching he received," Meek said.
That coaching came from former BYU kickers Lee Johnson and Matt Payne, who worked extensively with Smith during the summer. Smith is also much bigger and stronger than he was last year. He took up football to be a receiver, but he soon discovered that he's better at kicking the ball than catching it.
"Now that I just focus on kicking, I'm becoming much better at it," Smith said.
College coaches are paying attention. He's received no offers so far, but that easily could change in the next few weeks. He's sure to at least get a junior-college offer. He wants badly to kick at the Division I level and knows what he needs to do to make that chance a reality.
"I need to be more consistent," he said.
Smith has also ventured down another new path this fall. He's always had a pretty good voice and enjoys singing, so he decided to try out recently for the school's production of "Beauty and the Beast." He got the role of the prince and sneaks out of football practice early each night for stage rehearsals. He assumes his teammates would approve.
"Actually, I haven't told any of them yet," he said, worried he might take some ribbing.
His secret is now out of the bag. But not to worry, Bruins fans. Even though Smith is enjoying his latest hobby, he still believes he has more of a future in football than theater.
And it's hard to believe that his larynx could be any more convincing of that than his right leg.