Hershey senior McKade Smith signed his national letter of intent Wednesday to play football at Chadron State College in Chadron.

Smith said college football became a goal the summer before his junior year when he experienced a growth spurt.

“I began to get taller, put on weight and get faster and that’s when I started loving football a lot,” said the 6’4″, 175-pound Smith.

Although his father, Hershey Head Football Coach Ryan Smith, played football there, he did not pressure McKade to choose Chadron.

“He said that wherever I went he would be happy for me,” McKade Smith said.

But after visiting the campus and talking with the coaches and players, he knew it was where he wanted to attend.

“It has that small-town feel, obviously bigger than Hershey, but it feels like home to me,” he said. “I think I had my mind made up to go there during my junior year, so I was excited when they offered me the scholarship last month.”

Chadron coach Jay Long told him he might play receiver, tight end, defensive back or linebacker.

“They have a great weight program and they want to put as much muscle on me as possible. I am willing to do whatever they ask,” Smith said.

Coach Smith said it was a special day to see his son get the opportunity to attend college and continue his football career.

“It is a bit exciting, watching your own go out of the house but also its a similar feeling when you get to see any of your players go on and get to do something they enjoy,” he said.

He is happy McKade chose his alma mater.

“It is really neat because my position coach is still there and Coach Long was a redshirt player when I was a senior, so I am really familiar with the campus and the program,” he said. “But I really tried to stay out of McKade’s way. This whole process has been about him choosing what college he wanted. It was hard not to push him in that direction.”

Smith is a three-sport athlete at Hershey. He also competes in basketball and track.

He plans to major in biology and pursue a career in physical therapy or radiology.