Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the trip to Austin for Sunday’s Texas-Notre Dame game to root his alma mater, but also to connect with Texas Longhorns linebacker sensation Malik Jefferson.
Smith has known Jefferson since he was being recruited by Notre Dame out of Mesquite Poteet and the two have kept in touch.
Smith said Jefferson looks up to him and he looks at the Texas sophomore like a little brother.
Never miss a local story.
More important, Smith says Jefferson’s game looks a lot like his.
“I see a lot of me in him,” Smith said. “His effort, the way he loves the game, the way her pursues. He is all over the field. He is like a little me.”
Smith was the best linebacker in college football in 2015 and would have been a top five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he didn’t suffered a major knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl.
Smith was a second-round pick of the Cowboys, despite the injury that will sideline him for his entire rookie season. The Cowboys see him as a cornerstone player for years to come and a future Pro Bowler.
Smith believes Jefferson has similar ability and wants to everything he can to help.
“We talk,” Smith said. “Any advice I have I give to him. He just looks up to me. That’s like a little brother to me.”
In addition to catching up with Jefferson, Smith got to the check one of the items off his bucket list with the trip to the game at DKR Memorial Stadium. He watched Texas’ 50-47 double overtime win from the Notre Dame sideline, but said the atmosphere was one of the best he’s ever experienced.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Smith said. “I always wanted to go and visit the stadium growing up. Heard so many great things, Vince young, Colt McCoy, Brian Orakpo, Ricky Williams _ a storied stadium. It was a great atmosphere.”