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Dallas Cowboys: 10 things to know about Jaylon Smith, from his Burger King job to recovering from a career-threatening injury


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Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) warms up before facing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFC Divisional Playoff game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Saturday, January 12, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)


Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) warms up before facing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFC Divisional Playoff game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Saturday, January 12, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)


Here are 10 things you might not know about Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith.

1. He played running back in high school

Smith actually started off as a defensive end in his high school career. In addition to playing DE and linebacker at Bishop Luers High School in Indiana, Smith was also his team’s running back. He was key to the school’s dominance on the gridiron. He led his school to four straight 2A title victories and ran for more than 1,200 yards his senior season. His final game was a 150-yard, three-touchdown performance to seal the title.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

2. No. 1 LB in the nation

Despite all of his success at running back, Smith was ranked the No. 1 linebacker in the country for the Class of 2013, according to Rivals. He was one of three five-star linebacker recruits. The other two were Matthew Thomas (attended Florida State) and Mike Mitchell (former Plano linebacker who went to Ohio State, then Texas Tech). 

Other notable linebackers in Smith’s class included Myles Jack (he was ranked as a four-star recruit and the 16th best linebacker. Jack also was picked two spots after Smith in 2016’s draft) and Jordan Evans (Oklahoma).

3. His brother is on the Cowboys’ roster

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) and Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith (45) celebrate after Rod Smith scored his second touchdown of the night during the second half of play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, December 10, 2017. Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants 30-10. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)


Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) and Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith (45) celebrate after Rod Smith scored his second touchdown of the night during the second half of play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, December 10, 2017. Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants 30-10. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Rod Smith, a running back, is also on the Cowboys’ roster. Rod is three years older than Jaylon. He has carved out a role as Ezekiel Elliott’s back up.

Jaylon and Rod attended different high schools (Rod went to Harding High School) and ended up playing each other one time. As a freshman, Jaylon’s team won the game (and probably eternal bragging rights) 14-8 over his brother, who was a senior.

“That was a good week,” Jaylon told reporters after the game. “But I always watched him growing up and always looked up to him. I watched all of his success and took it all in. I wanted to figure out a way I could be as good as him or possibly even better.”

RELATED: The ‘surreal’ path brothers Jaylon, Rod Smith took to the Cowboys to play together for the first time

4. Rod jumped out a window after hitting Jaylon

In this profile by ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill, she chronicles a time when Rod and Jaylon got into it with each other. Apparently they weren’t too fond of one another when they were kids.

“Rod occasionally whaled on Jaylon, who’s three years younger,” Merrill said. “One time, he accidentally smacked Jaylon hard enough in the face that he left a mark. Rod was so fearful of the consequences that he jumped out of a window and ran down the street. Jaylon chased him for at least 10 minutes.”

Good news from Merrill, the brothers are cool with one another now.

5. He’s worked at Burger King

The following about Smith from his high school days is from the same Merrill profile

“He was the one who saved his money and got a job at Burger King so he could pay for gas for his car and have his own money. Notre Dame’s coaches were shocked when they came to Fort Wayne for a recruiting visit and found out he was working at Burger King. He told them he liked to work with people.”

His go-to Burger King order? A Double Whooper with cheese, no tomatoes and extra pickles.

6. He likes giving back to the community

Smith has his own YouTube channel dubbed “Clear Eye View,” which has videos of him that documented his recovery from surgery and his path to the NFL. It also has a video of him visiting My Brother’s Keeper/My Sister’s Keeper in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on a mobile device.

Giving back can also mean giving to his parents, as Smith bought both his mother and father new cars in the 2016 offseason.

He’s already started giving back to the Dallas community. Smith was one of the Cowboys that visited Texas Scottish Rite for Children last season.

7. His injury and return

Smith tore his ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State (where his brother Rod went to college) on Jan. 1, 2016. His injury also included nerve damage. Merrill explained Smith’s injury in detail below:

“The torn ACL and LCL do not concern NFL decision-makers,” she said. “But the nerve damage terrifies them. Smith stretched his peroneal nerve, which left him with a foot drop. That means he currently cannot pick up his left foot on his own. This should not have been a stunning revelation at this point in his rehab, but when Smith had his knee examined during medical rechecks earlier this month in Indianapolis, gloom-and-doom headlines quickly spread on the internet.”

Smith missed all of the 2016 season for the Cowboys, but made his debut in 2017. It was a mixed back for Smith. He played in all 16 games, but lacked the explosiveness and awareness which made him such a tantalizing prospect. Still, the fact that he was able to play in every game this season was a big step for Smith after what might have been a career-ending injury. 

“It’s just the rhythm,” Smith said. “The game, and a lot of us elite players, it’s about getting a great rhythm.

“Each game I improved. I feel elite again. It’s a great feeling and knowing I’m able to contribute at a high level for America’s team, it’s going to be some great years to come.”

8. Special moment from 2018

As the comeback from his major injury continued, Smith became a key factor in the reinvigorated Cowboys defense.

He made one of the biggest plays of the season during a win over the Buccaneers thanks to this fumble return:

Watch closely and you will see one of the first people in the end zone to celebrate with him — his brother Rod (No. 45) from the sidelines.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) looks to block as Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) runs 69 yards for a touchdown off a Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) fumble during the first half of play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, December 23, 2018. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)


Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) looks to block as Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) runs 69 yards for a touchdown off a Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) fumble during the first half of play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, December 23, 2018. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

9. He was a Patriots fan??

Awkward….

10. Trending up

Tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, QB hits, fumble recoveries, passes defended — all statistical categories in which Smith improved during his second NFL season.

Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear set to be anchors of the Cowboys’ second-level for years to come on the defensive side of the ball.

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