Daniel Boone senior Xavier Smith, seated center, recently signed a letter of intent to join the track and field program at Penn State University. He is
Daniel Boone senior Xavier Smith, seated center, recently signed a letter of intent to join the track and field program at Penn State University. He is pictured with his parents Regina and Bob Smith, seated, and, standing from left, Daniel Boone coaches Russ Keith and Matt Kade. (Photo courtesy Daniel Boone athletics)

UNION — Funny how plans can sometimes change in the blink of an eye.

If someone had asked Daniel Boone football and track standout Xavier Smith a year ago, even a few months ago, if he was going to play football or run track in college, he would shaken his head in disbelief.

Football, of course, he would have said. The sport Smith has loved and excelled in for as long as he can remember. Why even ask such a question.

But suddenly track and field sprinted out ahead of football as his future sport, Smith recently signing his letter of intent to continue his academic and track career at Division I Penn State University.

It was that magical lure of Happy Valley he couldn't resist.

Daniel Boone’s Xavier Smith won the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.43 seconds - almost a full second ahead of second place finisher Paul Galanti.
Daniel Boone's Xavier Smith won the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.43 seconds - almost a full second ahead of second place finisher Paul Galanti. (Kevin Hoffman/ The Mercury)

"I went up to Penn State to visit and I loved there,' Smith said. "I just thought it was a place I could see myself at. Simple as that.'

It was track, not football, the Nittany Lions wanted him for. No wonder with the track résumé Smith has put together in just one year.

Some athletes can simply do it all. Count Smith among them. They don't call him X-Man for nothing. He seems to have that supernatural ability to pick up any sport and instantly be a standout in it.

A standout running back and defensive back in football as well as an excellent basketball player on the Blazers teams for years, Smith suddenly decided last year, by then a junior, he might as well also give track a try.

And wouldn't you know it, the X-Man was an immediate success in the sprints. Not only did he qualify for states in the 100 and 200 meters in his first track season, he captured the PIAA bronze medal in the 100 meters with a blistering 10.83, and advanced to the PIAA semifinals in the 200 posting a 22.47.

But football was still his first love and number one sport and he, naturally, returned to his Blazers football team last fall for his final high school season.

He did, however, give up basketball this past winter in favor of indoor track. Smith promptly won the PIAA Indoor Championships silver medal in the 100 meters.

Colleges and universities started coming after him for track. Smith figured it wouldn't hurt to check out a few.

"I just liked the way Penn State was, liked the feel of the college,' Smith said. "And I wanted to continue track in college. It was a tough decision because I do like football still. But then I decided track is probably going to be a little easier on the body. And after having some injuries in football (last fall), I felt like track was definitely the way to go.'

Penn State may be best known for football, but it also has an excellent track and field history, especially in the sprints.

It still comes as a bit of a shock for those who know Smith. On his ' 14 Recruiting Profile still posted on NCSA Athletic Recruiting, Smith states: "My goal is to play football at the next level. I have two main reasons for playing in college; for the education and the love for the game. I want to pursue a career in the medical field when my football career is over.'

Scratch the football part, but not his medical field aspirations. Those haven't changed.

"I'm going to major in kinesiology,' he said. "I do like the medical field. That's something I've been looking at for some time because I do like giving back.'

He had also checked out a number of football offers.

"I definitely did visit some colleges for football,' he said. "Millersville, Colgate and Johns Hopkins.

"For track, I looked at Temple, Rhode Island, Bucknell and Penn State. And Penn State was like following a dream.'

He talked it over with his family and that was it.

"Me and my parents just talked about it,' he said. "Ultimately it was my decision. And I felt great going with the track."

Asked what finally tipped the scale for track, Smith thought for a few moments.

"I think it was just about college itself, just how Penn State felt,' he said. "I just loved it.'

It was also just talking at home with his mom and dad that suddenly steered him to track last spring.

"My brother, RJ, he did track and he started out his junior year,' Smith said.

RJ Smith, who graduated from Boone two years ago and is now running for Gwynedd-Mercy College, is also an excellent sprinter.

"It was just something we talked about and said, ' Hey, might as well give it a try,'' Smith recalled. "And it took off right away.'

All the way to states.

"That was definitely a surprise how well I did,' he said. "Because not too many people go to states, let alone place at states especially in the first year. I definitely did kind of gauge my success on states. But, I don't think that was the main reason of me going to college for track. I was still undecided going through the football season.'

Boone boys track and field head coach Russell Keith still vividly remembers his first meeting with Smith.

"At the Perkiomen Valley Invite his sophomore year,' Keith recalled. "He came to the meet to watch his brother RJ compete. I recall doing some recruiting that day and was excited when he came to the track meeting his junior year.

"I knew he would be a good sprinter, but did not envision what he was going to accomplish his first year. Each week he kept surprising us, all the way to the state meet and this indoor season as well. Just when you think he reached his potential, he takes it to the next level.

"Xavier does possess natural speed, but has a tremendous work ethic and competitive drive that fuels his success. He is an excellent leader and is willing to do anything to help the team win.'

Boone girls track and field head coach Matt Kade, who coaches both teams in the sprint events, saw Smith's potential from early on.

"I think he started to truly recognize his running potential following his success during last year's outdoor season and performances at this year's indoor state and national meets. His success at the state and national level definitely played a part in his decision. He may have also been slightly persuaded by his brother, a very successful collegiate runner who, like Xavier, was known for another sport (soccer) for much of his high school career.

"I know that Xavier will continue his running excellence at Penn State. I don't think Xavier is close to reaching his full potential yet and Penn State will provide a great opportunity for him to continue his already tremendous running career.'

Though it may be tough to give up the other sports he loves, Smith's thoughts are all on track now. He is focused winning the 100 meters again at the District 3 Championships and then making it to the top of the medal stand at the PIAA Championships, for the gold this time.

"The gold in the 100 at states, that's one of my goals,' he said. "But the 200 as well this year. I don't want to just get to the finals in the 200, I want to get gold in the 100 and the 200, too.'

Follow Rosemarie Ross on Twitter @RoseRoss31