I'm not going to lie, when my friend Sarah Johnson (the most prolific supplier of my former players) said she could get me Josh Smith, I had no idea who she was talking about. I pride myself in being a general Clemson sports know-it-all, and the only Josh Smith I know played power forward. However, after a little digging, I found out that Josh was a long snapper, and the reason I didn't know his name was because he was good at his job. Smith played one of the most thankless positions in football, but he played it well. I was privileged to have the opportunity to converse with Josh (through text) and find out what he is up to today. He also provided me with a little insight into the long snapper position, and even threw in a tip to help my golf game. Josh is truly one of the good guys, and Liberty High School is lucky to have him. So, without further ado, I present Mr. Josh "Catfish" Smith.
Hi, Josh, or Mr. Catfish if you prefer, thanks for helping me out with this project. What are you up to these days?
I'm currently teaching Physical Education at Liberty High School in Liberty, SC. I am the Head Boys Golf coach and Offensive Coordinator/OL and Head Strength and Conditioning coach for football. This will be my 5th year at LHS. I've been married to my wife Moriah ("college sweetheart" as she says) for 10 years this week on June 17. We have two children, son Michael Edmond (21 months old) and Avery Carson (3 months old). We have two dogs and two cats - Sadie, Socks, Jag, and Boo.
Ok, Josh, it's confession time for me. I can usually pull up a bunch of information on former Clemson players, but googling (Josh Smith, Clemson) pulls up a bunch of information on our power forward that just graduated. I suppose that's the life of a long snapper. Coming out of Easley High School, did you ever consider another school, or was it Clemson or bust?
That was a little running joke for a while when basketball season would roll around. I would get a text saying good game last night or something along those lines. I actually visited a handful of FCS (at the time Div. 1-AA) schools for football. Western Carolina was where I had chosen to attend, but I didn't do too well on the SAT, and couldn't get cleared by NCAA Clearinghouse until it was too late. I had met Coach Tommy Bowden at an Auburn football camp and at Tulane prior to his hire at Clemson, so that worked out in my favor. Both of my parents, Mike and Sharon Smith, are Clemson grads, and I grew up 20 minutes down the road, so we attended every Clemson home game during my childhood - Clemson on Saturday and church on Sunday.
Your current profession leads me to believe that you graduated with a degree in secondary education, with a focus on physical education, is this an accurate assumption?
I actually graduated Clemson with a degree in PRTM with an emphasis in Sport Mgt. and a minor in Marketing. After working for 7 years in logistics and electrical construction, I decided to pursue my teaching certification in PE from Southern Wesleyan in Central, SC.
Long Snappers are a little like air conditioners. You don't take the house guests outside to show off your compressor, but when that sucker stops working in July, and your wife just gave birth, and it's 105 degrees in Texas, and the only one in the house handling the heat with grace is your newborn (this happened to me) you hate it with every fiber of your being. What's it like to play a position where the less people know your name, the better it is for you and the team?
I am very glad that only my family and friends knew my name out there. If 82,000+ knows your name or looks you up in the program as long snapper, that's a problem.
Speaking of long snapping, what led you to that vocation?
My uncle, Wayne Talley, was a coach for the Pop Warner team I played for. He pretty much threw me a ball and said you are the center and long snapper. Both of which I played through high school.
Long snapping has become the family trade in the Smith house, with your little brother Joseph snapping for Charleston Southern. Did you help educate him on the tricks of the trade?
I remind him that I taught him everything he knows! In actuality, he is probably a lot better than I was. He was named to the FCS All-American Team this past season as a long snapper. That's something I am very proud of.
Thinking back on your days at Clemson, what was the most satisfying victory you were a part of, and what was the most stinging defeat?
The most satisfying victory would be the 63-17 beat down at USC in 2003. A very close 2nd would be the 2004 Peach Bowl victory over the University of Tennessee. The most stinging defeat was probably the 45-17 loss at Wake Forest.
Is there any particular play in your career that really sticks out in your mind? I assume you got to lay some solid licks on punt coverage.
I would say the last field goal against Tennessee, just because I knew that was going to be the final play of my Clemson career.
I played goal keeper in high school (I know, I know, soccer is a communist sport) and was basically segregated from the team for most of practice. I'd go off with my own coach and do my own thing for 90% of practice. Is that how it works with long snappers and kickers as well?
Pretty much exactly how it was. We would do special teams the first few periods of practice and at the end of practice on Thursdays. Every once in a while we would go shotgun snap some for QB's during their drills.
Sorry for all the long snapper questions, but I'm genuinely curious about the particulars of the position. Do different holders have different snap preferences? Like do some guys like a higher snap and some like a lower snap, or do you just try and fire it back at the same spot every time and let the holder deal with it?
I always marked my aiming point and after that I just let it go. We practiced snaps/holds/kicks a lot during the week and in the off-season. The holder would know where to mark the spot so he would catch the snap with laces out to minimize spinning the ball before the kick. It was really just second nature.
Do you have any advice for incoming Clemson football players?
Enjoy your time at the highest level of college football, with the best fans in the country. Savor the moment because time will fly by. Also, utilize Vickery Hall as much as possible to stay on top of the school work. Finally, give your best effort in everything, every time.
Do you get back to Death Valley for any games?
My family and I have season tickets. I go to as many games as I can unless there's a conflict with my brother's games.
What is your prediction for the upcoming season?
I say back to the College Football Playoff. They have tremendous talent across the board. I had a great trip to Phoenix, AZ this past season and would love to take a road trip to Tampa this upcoming season.
So, your nickname is "Catfish" how and when did that come about?
We were in the weight room during the off-season for an early morning workout after my freshman year. I don't remember the exact conversation, but the name catfish surfaced by Nick Eason and we were all laughing and joking. Everybody in our workout group had some kind of animal nickname. During a hot two-a-day practice in 2001, Coach Bowden, Coach (Thielen) Smith, and Coach (Reggie) Herring made reference to it and it stuck like glue. By my junior year, I had professors in class calling me that. I would be rattled if one of my teammates called me Josh and not by my nickname.
You're the Head Boys Golf coach at Liberty High School, what's your golf game like these days? Has coaching golf helped your game any?
My golf game is about non-existent with a toddler and newborn. I am currently at a 12 handicap, which will not qualify for any PGA event, ever. Coaching golf has made great improvements in my short game. I usually send the guys out to practice and play some holes and I'll stay back to work on short irons, chipping, and putting.
I have an almost 2 year old who is currently running around with a Minnie Mouse trashcan on her head. You have an almost 2 year old and 3 month old, what's your house like these days? Do you ever get any peace and quiet?
Peace and quiet... what is that? At times, and by that I mean 90% of the time, its complete chaos. In the last 365 days, I can count on two hands the number of nights our son has slept through the night. I wouldn't know what to do if I got more than 5 hours of sleep at one time on any night. I do love watching Michael learn new things on a daily basis. At the end of the day, I wouldn't change it for the world.
You're a physical education teacher, level with me, do you have a pair of those old school Bike coaching shorts? Do you get your first pair in the tube with your diploma, or is there a special P.E. teacher catalog?
The funny thing is that we have an "80's throwback day" during spirit week at school. I have thought about looking for some Bike shorts and colored ring tube socks on E-Bay, but nobody wants to see a 275 pound guy in some Bike shorts. Although one of the best parts of my job is wearing short pants all school year.
I'm trying to fix my hook. You have any quick tips to help keep in on the course?
Nothing more true than when Lee Trevino said, "You can talk to a fade, but a hook won't listen." Try not to lead with the hands and don't "chase" the ball through impact. Let the hips lead the downswing, followed by the torso, followed by the arms and then the hands. If that doesn't work, then break the rules, aim right and play the hook. I tend to have a problem with one of the S-words... Slice. Like the saying goes, a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work!
If I'm in Liberty, and I'm looking for something good to eat, where should I go?
That's a loaded question. Being in teaching and coaching in a small community, I'm sure to get someone upset if I don't say the right thing. I would recommend Yank's Place, Liberty Bell, Stefano's, Fiesta Grill, Poncho's, Little Bistro or Hot Diggity Dog. I've ate at all of them, so you wouldn't be disappointed at any of the above mentioned.