E.A. Sports Today

Smith top 3A Lineman

Wellborn senior one of four Calhoun County players who were finalists for Back and Linemen of the Year honors

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Wellborn’s Jett Smith, a physical senior who will punish you with his agressive running style at quarterback and then turn around and hit you again on defense, is this year’s Alabama Class 3A Lineman of the Year as decided by the state’s writers.

All the back and linemen of the year winners in the AHSAA’s seven classifications and the AISA were announced Tuesday night. A finalist for 3A Lineman last year, Smith nosed out Fyffe’s Caleb Lyles and Piedmont’s Sean Smith for this year’s award.

“I think it’s one of the best awards you can get,” Smith said Tuesday night shortly after the awards were announced. “There are really, really good players who get this award and for me to be one of them I’m very thankful for that.”

Smith, 5-11 and 180 pounds, led the Panthers to a share of the region title for the second year in a row. Their playoff run ended in a second-round loss at eventual state champion Fyffe.

He rushed for 1,271 yards and 12 touchdowns and threw a pair of touchdowns on offense. On defense, he made 154 tackles, caused four fumbles and blocked two punts. He was up for lineman of the year as a linebacker, but is expected to play safety at the next level for a team to be determined.

“(My) kid or no kid, I’ve never had one like that ever that can play both side of the ball like him,” his father, Wellborn head coach Jeff Smith, told EA Sports Today earlier this year. “At that pace he plays and I’ve never had a kid with the football mind he has.

“He has a mechanical mind. I have to study. I’m a studier. I have to watch and watch and watch; Jett knows where it all fits. He put the trampoline together when he was 10. If we get anything in the house like an entertainment center, he puts it together.”

Smith’s 624 career tackles ranks second all-time behind Spanish Fort linebacker Thomas Johnston, who had 675 in a career spanning from 2013-16, and moved him ahead of Blount defensive tackle Demarco McNeil, who totaled 622 from 1996-98.

He is one of just four players with 600 or more tackles in their career, according to the AHSAA Record Book. Matthew Forester also had 612 tackles in his prep career at Briarwood Christian from 1996-98. Forester is now the Lions’ head football coach.

“I like both (offense and defense) well, but I could see how I could get (the award) on defense with me making tackles and stuff,” Smith said. “I knew after my senior year I would have a lot of tackles and probably the most at Wellborn, but I had no idea I would be No. 2 in the whole state of Alabama.

“When I saw that, I got excited. To know I’m No. 2 in the state makes me real proud.”

Jett was a serious candidate for the Alabama-Mississippi All-State Game but played for his father in the North-South All-Star Game, one of 10 Calhoun County players selected for the game.

He played offense and defense in the North-South Game and directed the North offense on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that came within a failed two-point conversion that tied the game. He called it “a fun game.”

Smith was one of four Calhoun County players who were Back and Linemen of the Year finalists. The others were Oxford quarterback Trey Higgins (6A Back) and Piedmont teammates Jack Hayes (3A Back) and Smith (3A Lineman).

Here is the full list of winners:

Linemen of the Year

7A: Jeremiah Alexander, Thompson
6A: Lee Hunter, Blount
5A: Jeremiah Williams, Ramsay
4A: Deontae Lawson, Mobile Chr.
3A: Jett Smith, Wellborn
2A: Caden Story, Lanett
1A: Carson Jones, Brantley
AISA: Eli Richey, Southern Academy

Backs of the Year

7A: Conner Harrell, Thompson
6A: GaQuincy McKinstry, Pinson Valley
5A: Zyquez Perryman, Pleasant Grove
4A: Kamari Lassiter, American Christian 
3A: Ike Rowell, Fyffe
2A: Peyton Higgins, Mars Hill Bible
1A: Brayden Kyle, Decatur Heritage
AISA: Payton Allen, Chambers Academy 

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