Recruiting Report: Cole Smutny (2020)
The Woodbury Royals’ football team faced three future state tournament teams and started 0-3. The team needed a spark. That spark came in some mid-season changes, and the Royals won five in a row. One of those changes was expanding…
The Woodbury Royals’ football team faced three future state tournament teams and started 0-3. The team needed a spark. That spark came in some mid-season changes, and the Royals won five in a row. One of those changes was expanding the role of senior linebacker Cole Smutny.
“We had a strong senior class,” Smutny said. “Since seventh grade, we were putting up fifty points on teams, and no one was scoring on us. When we came into last season, we had high expectations. We had put in the work and had a new training program. We had a tough schedule, but we had a strong team and were tight, so we just went for it. We showed up during our losses, but we just couldn’t put it together.”
The schedule eased up, but the team also made some key changes.
“By game four, we made a quarterback change (to ), and he made a lot of plays with his feet. He took over during (his first game against) Stillwater, and the whole team got behind him. That started a five-game winning streak.”
Sparked by the quarterback change, the team found its identity.
“Our front seven or eight – we had schemes, but when we just played fast – that was key,” Smutny explained. On offense, we had a great running game with both our running back and quarterback.”
The 6’0″, 205-pound senior started on defense the entire year.
“I was the strong-side inside linebacker in our 3-4 defense. Sometimes when offenses would come out in an empty formation, I would move outside and cover the slot.”
By game four, Smutny was playing both ways.
“At receiver, I wasn’t going to beat a lot of corners in stride, but if they could get me the ball, I was going to beat them by going through them. I could go up and get the ball,” Smutny – who was also the team’s primary punt returner – said. “At running back – I started the last two games when we lost (starting running back) Brock Rinehart. I didn’t have the vision he did, but I could run hard like him. We knew I wasn’t going to make any long runs, but I was able to keep the chains moving.”
Although his role expanded, Smutny’s calling card is defense.
“Running through gaps was my strength on defense. I have good instincts to get to the ball.”
He feels he can make the solid play, but this offseason, he is focused on the big play.
“I need to make bigger plays,” Smutny told northstarfootballnews.com. “A forced fumble, an interception, a scoop, and score – those are game-changing plays. I am going to try to change my game so that I can make more game-changing plays. Striping the ball, getting myself in position to make an interception – that is my biggest priority.”
Smutny’s winter focused both on the physical and the mental.
“I played intermural basketball – mostly for fun, but also to stay in shape. I also was working out five days a week at a facility, working on my speed, agility, and flexibility. I have been watching film of guys like Chris Boreland and Ray Lewis – everyone that makes game-changing plays and how I can implement that into my game. I am able to get to the ball – how can I get the ball out?”
The facility he works out at, Smutny also interns at.
“I work with kids making sure they are using the correct form. Sometimes I am running speed classes – just getting myself some experience to see if that is something I want to do in the future.”
Smutny’s college recruitment is still going on.
“I went on a couple of game day visits and some junior days, but those kind of tailed off. I am still in contact with Minnesota and North Dakota State for a preferred walk-on spot. St. Thomas is interested in me and am considering them. The way it is looking now, I am going to be paying for school, so my decision is going to be based on location, the football program, the college itself, and cost.”
“I had an offer from Concordia-St. Paul, but it didn’t appeal to me,” Smutny – who is being recruited as a linebacker and a nickel back – continued. “Valparaiso and Augustana offered me, but they didn’t fit what I was looking for.”
Halfway through the season, the Royals were looking for a spark. Among other guys – Smutny was part of that spark.