Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith will be entering his fourth season in 2019, but this weekend he’s fulfilling a promise he made three years ago. When Smith left Notre Dame to enter the 2016 NFL Draft he promised his mother he would return to earn his college degree.
At the time it looked more likely for him to return to South Bend than to pursue his NFL dreams after suffering a tragic knee injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl game. Many thought he’d never play football again, but the Cowboys took a chance on him selecting him with their second-round pick. They felt confident in trusting his recovery with solid insight from team physician Dr. Dan Cooper, who was selected to perform his surgery.
Smith sat out his rookie season to rehab but finally saw time in 2017 and had a true breakout season in 2018, finishing second on the team in tackles.
While some never thought he’d move the same way, there he was Sunday not just walking but dancing across the stage, a proud Notre Dame graduate with a bachelor’s degree in film and television. With a full load of 21 hours, Smith was juggling both offseason workouts and being a full-time student.
Smith has already accomplished more than most thought was possible on the field and off the field, all while always having the same “clear eye view.”