RAVENSWOOD - Despite his larger-than-life legendary status, Owen Schmitt is a personable, approachable guy who loves football, kids and West Virginia, his adopted home. The affection is a two-way street.
Schmitt was in Ravenswood last week to participate in the Red Devils Youth Football Camp with Coach Mick Price, his staff including good friend Jason Jackson, former and current Red Devils and over 59 youngsters who invaded Flinn Field to learn football the Red Devil and Owen Schmitt way. Schmitt quickly fit into the camp scene, chatting with both high school athletes and the young campers.
These days, Schmitt is sporting a full beard and shoulder-length hair—a contrast to the peeled Mohawk he sported during his playing days in Morgantown where his legend developed.
A physical player who broke a plethora of facemask in his jarring style, Schmitt endeared himself to the state not just with his athleticism, football prowess and touchdowns, but with his heart. His tearful, heartfelt post-game interview after the 48-28 2008 Fiesta Bowl upset of Oklahoma—arguably the greatest victory in Mountaineer Football history— in which he thanked and express his love for the state and thanked WVU for allowing him to be a Mountaineer cemented his place as both a football legend here and Mountain State favorite son.
He has since played five seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and last season with the Oakland Raiders, and is hoping to be picked up again. A training injury setback his progress in landing with another NFL team, although he has had teams including the Buffalo Bills interested in acquiring his services.
Defensive coordinator Jason Jackson is a friend and has worked with Schmitt at his state youth camps. That connection brought Schmitt to Ravenswood. And the 2013 Red Devil Youth Football Camp benefitted.
Schmitt gave kudos to the Red Devil camp. "I really like how the camp program is run here," Schmitt said. "The kids listen and are enthusiastic. It's not like some, where you're baby-sitting for four hours a day."
Schmitt is thinking about building a cabin in the state, but the timetable for those plans will depend on what the NFL future holds. He is also co-owner of Schmitt's Saloon/Davisson Brothers Music Hall in Morgantown, which combines spirits, food, live music and sports. And he plays music occasionally (like at the 2012 Ripley July 4th celebration) with the Davission Brothers Band.
Asked if he misses Morgantown, Schmitt said, "Well, I have the restaurant up there so I'm still part of it. It's really growing. But I do miss playing football there. That place is special."
Schmitt also stressed the importance of setting goals to the campers in talk between offensive and defensive drills Thursday evening.
"I set goals for myself at WVU and worked them like a ladder," he told the youngsters. "Set a goal, work to reach it and then move up to the next goal. I wanted to win the Iron Mountaineer Award. I worked to do that. I wanted to be an Academic All-American. I worked for that. It's important to set goals and then work your tail off to achieve them. I want each of you to set a goal tonight and then work to reach that goal."
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