The mere fact that Jaylon Smith even set foot on a football field again is a borderline miracle. After suffering what some called a career-ending knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame, a potential top-five NFL draft pick, now saw his future clouded by tremendous uncertainty. At least that is how it seemed to those of us viewing from the outside. However, after watching Smith over the first three years of his NFL career from afar, I find it very hard to believe he ever doubted that he would come back better than ever.
Following his now famous motto of a “Clear Eye View”, Smith has worked his way all the way back to, if not better than, his Notre Dame days. Reports coming out of the early part of Cowboys training camp are that he is noticeably quicker. This could partly be due to the fact that Smith has shed the most talked about AFO brace west of the Mississippi. It could also be due to the fact that he now has a full year of NFL action under his belt. More than likely it is a combination of the two, regardless, Smith looks ready to make a major impact in 2018, and in more ways than one.
Jaylon Smith told that his brother said he’s back to being the player he was at Notre Dame: “I’m gonna be better than that.” … Jaylon also asked about Rod Marinelli potentially blitzing him more this year: “Oh it’s gonna happen. He likes it. He likes that speed and intensity.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 29, 2018
Garrett says LB Jaylon Smith does seem more fluid and instinctive moving without the foot brace on this year. #cowboyswire
— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) July 26, 2018
A blitzing Jaylon Smith is something Cowboys fans should get very excited about. Smith has demonstrated a knack for being a successful blitzer dating back to his days in South Bend. It’s a rare trait and is hard to teach. With Dallas selecting 6’4″ Leighton Vander Esch to man the middle of the defense, at least on passing downs, it frees Smith up to come off the edge, up the middle, in combinations with DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, or Randy Gregory – the possibilities are exciting and multiple. Exciting and multiple? Those are definitely two words we have not heard associated with the Cowboys defense in some time.
Please believe me when I say I am going to drive the “Jaylon Smith is getting sacks, with an s” hype train until the wheels come off.
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) July 26, 2018
Blitz packages aside, simply having a 100% healthy Jaylon Smith will transform this defense in and of itself. While it was more than admirable for Smith to play all 16 games in 2017, you could tell he was not quite the same player he was in college. But let us not forget just how severe that injury was. In today’s rapid pace society, we tend to write players off as “washed” if they can’t rebound from an ACL tear in a year’s time or less for instance. Smith’s injury was an ACL tear x100. Just because it has taken three years for him to get healthy, by no means is any indication he can’t return to form or even surpass it. One thing I do know for sure, if anyone is going to do it, it will be Jaylon Smith.
Maybe the most amazing thing about Smith is the tremendously positive attitude he has kept since day one. Continuing with his Clear Eye View, Smith has made it a priority to give back to the community in a multitude of ways. Many athletes in his position would be solely focused on regaining the form that made them a potential top-five pick. Well, Smith did that but also continued to focus on those around him.
In his latest effort to give back, Smith followed his idol Lebron James’ footsteps in starting a program to help educate and support minority youth. James launched a free school in his hometown of Akron earlier this week, to which Smith tweeted out “my idol”. While he didn’t open up an entire school, Smith did initiate his Jaylon Smith Minority Entrepreneurship Institue. Smith states that the program will “provide financial funding, strategic planning, and mentorship for minority entrepreneurs”.
— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) July 31, 2018
Cowboys fans have a lot to be excited about with Jaylon Smith both on and off the field not only for 2018, but for years to come. We have yet to see the best Jaylon and I truly believe that.
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