Q&A with Dallas Cowboy Jaylon Smith

In the 2016 NFL draft, The Dallas Cowboys’ second round pick was Jaylon Smith, a linebacker from Notre Dame. Smith suffered a serious knee injury in college last season, and has yet to play for the Cowboys, but his debut in the NFL is highly anticipated. Fighting back from a serious injury entails a great deal of hard work, rehabilitation, medical professionals, and most importantly, belief. The belief that he would make it thus far started at the age of 7 when he was fully convinced that he would play in the NFL one day.

Jaylon answered some questions for us about his experience growing up as a football player, and has a valuable piece of advice for all young football players today.

Photos by James D. Smith

Q: Looking back, what were your favorite things about being a youth football player?

A: "You literally play with everybody you grew up with. The whole league was around everybody that you grew up with - the community. That was nice for me."

Q: Did you always believe you could make it to the NFL?

A: "Yes. Since I was seven years old, I knew I was going to the league."

Q: Did others believe you could make it?

A: "I think when I got in high school... when I was growing up I was always under my brother's (fellow Cowboy, running back Rod Smith) shadow. My brother was always the man ever since we were little. So I was always, "Little Rod." But in high school I stepped out of his shadow, was a five-star recruit, number three player in the country, and then that's when more people started to realize that I could make it too."

Q: If playing professional football had not been an option for you, what career path would you have pursued?

A: “A veterinarian; real estate agent; a lot of things."

Q: What advice do you have for young football players today?

A: “Be a sponge – soak everything in. The mark of greatness is consistency. It’s just the love of the game."

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