If anyone needed proof of Alex Smith’s staying power, just consider this: The man who now serves as his position coach in Washington was once a high school rival in the San Diego area … and is a year his junior.
As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Redskins passing game coordinator Kevin O’Connell grew up as one of Smith’s biggest rivals. Both were in the San Diego area, with O’Connell starring at La Costa Canyon and Smith the perpetual phenom at Helix High in La Mesa (also the alma mater of Reggie Bush). Smith was a member of the Class of 2002, while O’Connell graduated in 2003.
That both would link up again in the professional ranks isn’t too shocking. That they would do so as coach and star quarterback is. While both were on NFL rosters, O’Connell was a relatively short-lived NFL backup before transitioning to become a quarterbacks coach. Smith has been an NFL starter since his first year in San Francisco.
“Per the rules, [I reached out to Smith] as fast as I was able to do it,” O’Connell told the Times-Dispatch about his eagerness to work with his new star passer. …
“All these guys care about at the end of the day is are you helping them, are you giving them the best possible situations and are you preparing them every single day. If you’re doing that, I think they respond to that no matter what.”
We’ll find out when Smith hits the field to start the 2018 season. The first time there are issues, O’Connell won’t hesitate to offer him some advice. Whether or not Smith accepts it wholeheartedly is up to him, and the bond he’s building with a former rival.