Last season, Lake Mary finished 5-5 and were led by freshmen QB Gunnar Smith who threw for 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns.
As a freshman, Gunnar Smith set a Lake Mary High School record with a 99-yard touchdown run against a majority of his former teammates from Lake Brantley.
So as the team prepares for their spring game versus Hagerty and the start of the fall season, the youngster is getting his first taste of college recruiting.
“It’s a new experience having schools ask my coaches about me,” he said. “I received my first offer from Kentucky in April and have had a couple of other schools that want me to come to visit this summer.
“I attended the University of Florida spring game and will be going to Notre Dame’s camp in June. Right now, though, my focus is this team [Lake Mary] and this season.”
With a first name like Gunnar, it’s only appropriate that he’s accustomed to slinging the pigskin.
Smith has been playing the quarterback position since kindergarten. His father, Gunnar Sr., has been coaching him along the way as well as former UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe, who spent time with the Knights from 2009-2014 — and was in the CFL prior to that.
“He’s [Taaffe] been my personal quarterback coach for four to five years,” Smith said. “He keeps me on track and makes sure my feet, throws, accuracy are all working together.
“It’s nice to know my drills and training are the same as high-level college and NFL quarterbacks. His advice is not sugar-coated. He is honest and has been very encouraging to me all along.”
From Lake Brantley to Lake Mary
Spending his early years playing football for Lake Brantley Pop Warner, Smith moved to Ram country to hone his skills in an offense that’s known for throwing the ball.
Smith credits Lake Mary head coach Scott Perry as well as offensive coordinator Adam Donnelly and quarterbacks coach Hal Adkins for helping him transition to the high school level.
“Our team looks solid this year,” he noted. “We did lose most of the offensive starters including all the receivers, running backs, and some key lineman, but I’m excited about the new guys we have.
“Going against our defense every day makes us so much better. Our defense is really good!”
Entering his sophomore year, Smith feels more confident about leading the offense after 10 starts in 2018.
He added that he’d worked harder in the weight room, has grown taller, and did more preparation for the start of the season.
Friday night, the Rams take on Hagerty at home in their spring game.
“I am excited to play another defense and go against a couple of former Lake Mary coaches we had last year, including my quarterback coach [Joe Cianflone] who is now the offensive coordinator at Hagerty.”
Smith is a pro-style/pocket passer who can throw on the run. He models his game after Tom Brady and the Manning brothers — and was actually coached by them after attending the Manning Passing Academy.
So what’s in store for this season? Win the district.
“We are in a new district this year and play some really good teams,” Smith said. Winning the district will get us to another goal of making the playoffs.”
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