Even though Logan Smith is an Ozark lifer, his popular ‘Big Country’ nickname is befitting the Tigers offensive lineman.
Smith, a promising junior left guard, has answered to ‘Big Country’ for four years, going back to his seventh-grade basketball season. Ozark junior high football and basketball coach Chris Bodoin tagged him with the nickname.
“Coach Bodoin said I played like a dude named ‘Big Country,’ who played in the NBA,” Smith said, referring to Oklahoma State legend and former Vancouver Grizzlies center Bryant Reeves. “I watched a movie (Finding ‘Big Country’) about him. I think he’s a pretty good person to be named after.”
Reeves hailed from the tiny southeastern Oklahoma community of Gans, population 200, and is now a cattle farmer.
Smith has never lived on a farm, but isn’t exactly out of his element in rural settings.
“I have a country background,” he said. “My family owns some land out in the country about an hour and a half from here in Urich, which is 10 minutes from Clinton. That’s where a lot of my family is located. We go there to hunt. Everyone drives through Urich and doesn't even know it's there. But it's a really nice area. There are a few little farm stores there and some pretty land.”
Smith no doubt is a country boy at heart. His play-list is made of country music.
“I love country music,” he said. “I like Alan Jackson, George Strait and Luke Combs. I went to Garth (Brooks at Big Cedar Lodge last year), that was awesome.”
Smith could be on the verge of endearing himself to Ozark fans from all walks of life. Other than tight end Jace Whatley, the 5-foot-10, 240-pound Smith is the only Tigers offensive linemen with any varsity starting experience. He gained a start in Ozark’s Week Two trip to Republic last year.
“I was a little nervous going into that game, but it was awesome,” Smith said. “All the coaches were helping me and (fellow offensive linemen) Peyton Greer and Luke Neely made sure I knew what I was doing and were making sure I was getting my blocks.
“It was awesome to get that (first start) out of the way,” he added.
Greer and Neely were mentors to Smith throughout last season.
“Peyton always coached me up when I needed it,” he said. “Luke gave me extra help understanding the plays if I needed it. He was always hard on me, which was good. He got me better.”
Ozark’s offensive line could feature a senior in Whatley, four juniors and a sophomore. Thus, the Tigers’ pass protectors may very well be all underclassmen.
Ozark’s juniors enjoyed a 9-0 freshman season. Most of them played jayvee ball a year ago.
Smith is counting on the linemen’s camaraderie to be a winning attribute.
“I've been playing with a lot of these guys since I was little,” Smith said. “It makes it easier when you're comfortable with the guys. We all know exactly what each of us is going to do. We don't even really have to talk to each other. We know exactly how we're going to block.”