Smith was the go-to player on both offense and defense for the Knights. The No. 3-rated overall prospect by Rivals.com, Smith ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-28 win over Cardinal Ritter to clinch the state championship. It was Luers' fourth state title in a row.
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Jaylon Smith is certainly the best player in Indiana and arguably the best player in the nation. He was actively recruited by every major program in the nation and was the focal point of state champion Bishop Luers' offense and defense.
So why did Smith once show up to an important team meeting a few minutes late and in a Burger King outfit?
He was coming from work. Smith may be the first Butkus Award winner in recent memory who worked part-time at Burger King.
He may be the top defensive recruit in the nation, but it didn't keep him from keeping a second job and leading a team that endured a rocky season before eventually winning the Class 2A Indiana state championship.
Smith was the star on a Bishop Luers' team whose longtime coach, Matt Lindsay (a nine-time champion and 26-year veteran), was abruptly ousted after the fifth game of the season. That placed significant pressure on interim coach Steven Keefer and the star, Smith.
According to Keefer, most of the players looked up to Smith and he effectively took that in stride.
"The kids look for leadership and he filled that role for us," Keefer said. "He's a great performer and he had some phenomenal games through the playoffs on offense and defense. He was a real asset to our team."
The senior never lost a playoff game in high school and will leave Bishop Luers a four-time state champion.
Smith has all the right qualities: attitude, work ethi, competitive fire and a sense of what it means to be responsible. Keefer recalled one instance where some players were mouthing off on the bus, so he called Smith and his other captains to the front of the bus.
"I told Jaylon that I'm not going to tolerate this and that he ought to do something," Keefer said. "Before I could even finish, he looked at me and told me 'Coach, we'll take care of this.'"
And suddenly the profanity stopped.
As one of the most revered prospects in the nation, he should have the opportunity to demonstrate those leadership qualities at the next level. Smith ultimately decided to stay in-state and will attend Notre Dame next year. Though the Irish have developed tremendous defensive depth, the superbly talented Smith may have the opportunity to play as a true freshman.
Smith will probably make it there. And at Notre Dame, he won't have to show up to team meetings in a Burker King uniform.