FORT WAYNE – In the 20-year history of the Indiana Mr. Football award, there had never been a winner from northeast Indiana.
That all changed Thursday when the sponsoring Indianapolis Star announced Bishop Luers senior Jaylon Smith had been named the 2012 Mr. Football. The honor, presented annually since 1992, is given to the state’s outstanding high school senior.
Smith received 23 votes, ahead of Warren Central’s Tim Kimbrough (11), Sam Schrader of Mishawaka (5) and seven others with three votes or fewer.
It means everything. I am glad to be the recipient this year, Smith said. No one has ever won the award from Fort Wayne, so it is really an honor to start the trend.
The four-time Class 2A state champion did something even his older brother, Rod, didn’t do in 2009 as a standout running back at Harding.
With great guys like (ex-Bishop Dwenger standouts and current Notre Dame players) John Goodman (2007) and Tyler Eifert (2008) and my brother Rod Smith, no one had captured the award, so I am proud to bring it home.
Former Dwenger running back Remound Wright, now at Stanford, tied for third for the 2010 award, which is voted on by the state’s football coaches.
As a running back, the Notre Dame recruit ran for 1,265 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. From his outside linebacker position, he had 75 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He had 150 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 40-28 win over top-ranked Indianapolis Ritter in the 2A title game Nov. 23 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
On Monday, Smith collected two other honors, winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s top prep linebacker and the Euell A. Wilson Award as the SAC’s top senior player. He previously had been named to the U.S. Army All-American and Family Insurance All-USA teams.
It is a blessing, Smith said of the individual accolades.
Hard work pays off. It is just the beginning. I am not stopping. All this success makes me work harder.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Smith said he is now setting his sights on employment and conditioning for the U.S. Army All-American game Jan. 5 in San Antonio.
The future, though, won’t include playing on the school’s basketball team.
It gives me some time to get some hours in at Burger King, Smith said. From a responsibility standpoint, and since I can’t work in college, I just want to try to get some money in my pocket. Other than that, it is working out at AWP and getting ready for Jan. 5.
I have been playing (basketball) under coach (James) Blackmon and playing with James Blackmon Jr. and the Scott brothers since the fourth grade in AAU, so we all grew up together.
It is hard to walk away from it, but you have to do what you have to do.
Indiana Mr. Football2011: Columbus East’s Gunner Kiel
2010: Lawrence Central’s Tre Roberson
2009: West Lafayette’s Daniel Wodicka
2008: Carmel’s Morgan Newton
2007: Evansville Reitz’s Paul McIntosh
2006: Warren Central’s Darren Evans
2005: Warren Central’s Dexter Taylor
2004: Roncalli’s Jason Werner
2003: Warren Central’s Desmond Tardy
2002: McCutcheon’s Clayton Richard
2001: Ben Davis’ James Banks
2000: Cathedral’s Otis Shannon
1999: Indianapolis Arlington’s Derrick Ellis
1998: Bloomington South’s Rex Grossman
1997: Bishop Chatard’s DuJuan Daniels
1996: Martinsville’s Israel Thompson
1995: Martinsville’s Earl Haniford
1994: East Central’s Josh Martini
1993: Bloomington South’s Bo Barzilauskas
1992: Franklin Central’s Alex Smith