Former JHS grad speaks to students
by Lori Tippets
While many young men only dream of playing in a big game on a national stage, a former JHS graduate will be living that dream.

Jake Smith, a redshirt sophomore right guard on the University of Louisville football team will be a major factor in the success of the Louisville team when they take on the University of Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

Smith played for Coach Roland Houston at Jacksonville High School where he was named Honorable Mention All-State, All Area and All-County.

The 6-4, 315-pound lineman has had continued success at Louisville where last year he was named to the Freshman All-American Squad, the first Louisville Cardinal to ever have achieved that honor.

Last year Smith and his team, Big East Champions, played in the Belk Bowl. This year, after winning 10 games, the team will travel to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl.

Last week Smith took time while home for a short stay for the holidays, to return to JHS to talk to current students about what it takes to succeed in college.

Smith told the students that they need to concentrate on three things to succeed; grades, time commitment and what it takes to be part of a team.

“You are only as good as the goals that you set,” Smith told his audience. “At a young age, as a ninth or tenth grader I went through a lot of trials and tribulations in sports that pushed me to become a goal setter.

“In the tenth grade I decided I wanted to play college football and I became goal oriented.”

Smith told the young athletes, “When you get out of bed you need to decide what you are going to accomplish that day. When you go to practice decide what you are going to get better at.”

Smith, who carries a 3.5 GPA told his captive audience that they wouldn’t go anywhere without good grades. “It’s all about prioritizing,” said Smith. “You can’t stress enough how important grades are. If you work hard in the classroom you’ll work hard on the field.”

As for time commitment Smith told the athletes that how much time they would put into their work would determine how good they would be. “If you don’t completely devote all of your time and prioritize and be organized then it’s all for naught,” said Smith.

Smith said that in preparing for the Sugar Bowl they were putting in seven to eight hours a day. “You have to make sacrifices,” Smith said,” continuing, “You have to put down your video games.”

Smith encouraged his audience to find out what was important in their lives. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.”

Smith, who talked about winning 10 games for the first time in his career, said that it wouldn’t be possible without the camaraderie of his team.

“If you bond, you can succeed,” said Smith of the importance of teamwork. “The whole time you need to think about your teammate; your friend, your brother. If anything is going to motivate you it should be playing for the guy who is next to you.”

Smith further motivated his audience by passing around his Big East Championship ring, a beautiful piece of jewelry that was a tribute to the work it took to achieve the success that Smith has obtained.
© 2013