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IF YOU WALKED THROUGH THE STANDS AT A SECOND BAPTIST SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAME A FEW YEARS AGO, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN SURE TO SEE ELI SMITH '22. THE THEN-MIDDLE SCHOOLER COULD BE FOUND WATCHING THE EAGLES PLAY ON FRIDAY NIGHTS, ESPECIALLY TRACKING HIS FAVORITE PLAYER, DEION SMITH '18, WHO IS NOW A RUNNING BACK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO.
"I remember being in seventh grade watching Deion and thinking his game was electric," Smith said. "He was the person I aspired to become as a future high school athlete."
Now, Smith is the person that the young students watch and aspire to be like one day.
In the fall 2021 football season, the Second Baptist School running back racked up 1,289 all-purpose yards, averaged 171.9 yards per game, 10.8 yards per carry, and scored 15 touchdowns, helping the Eagles reach the TAPPS 5A State Semifinals.
With the success on the field has come attention on the recruiting trail. Smith currently holds offers from Columbia, Penn, and Dartmouth and plans to attend the SMU showcase in June, which will feature over 42 colleges.
"It's been pretty exciting. It feels like the hard work that I put in during the off-season has really paid off," Smith said about the recruiting process speeding up. "I've been trying to prove that you can achieve your college aspirations right here at a private school like SBS."
At Second Baptist School, Smith plays football, basketball and also runs track, competing in the 4x400-meter relay this spring.
But for Smith, playing college football is the ultimate dream.
"Whether it is with an Ivy League, FCS, or FBS program, the next step is definitely college football," Smith said.
The SBS junior, like any football player, enjoys watching players at the next level and above in his position. Smith follows New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley in particular, and some have even told him his running style mimics that of Denver Bronco Melvin Gordon III.
"My running style includes a lot of power when I need it, but a lot of it is breaking tackles whenever I'm getting through the line," Smith said. "I just stick with my linemen and break the tackles that come to me. When I get through, it's home free."
Putting on that Second Baptist School jersey every week is special for Smith.
Since first grade, Smith has walked the halls of SBS and credits the school for his character and social skills development along with, of course, his athletic prowess. Just like he watched Deion when he was young, he hopes a young Eagle is watching him on and off the field.
"Someone's always watching you; it pushes you to make the right decisions off the field," Smith said. "Then, on the field, it helps me play my best knowing that someone younger is looking up to me.
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Ty Kana recently won the VYPE Houston 2022 Defensive Football Recruit of the Year Fan Poll! Kana is currently the No. 17 ranked Recruit in Matt Malatesta's Class of 2022 Super 60 and is currently committed to the USC Trojans. VYPE caught up with Kana for the 411 on the anchor of the Katy Tigers defense.
VYPE: How long have you been playing football and how did you get your start?
Kana: I've been playing since I moved to Katy in the second grade and I've been in love with the game ever since. Going and seeing Katy football games was a big factor in my growth of passion for the game as well.
VYPE: You're committed to USC, what made USC the place for you?
Kana: USC was the best fit for me both athletically and academically. I really like the defense that Coach Orlando runs and it has many similarities to the one run at Katy.
VYPE: Who's your favorite football team and why?
Kana: I don't have a favorite football team other than Katy and USC just because I'm biased for the schools I play for.
VYPE: Go-to pregame meal? Routine?
Kana: For my pregame meal I like to eat pasta the night before and eggs the morning of the game, and I'm bumping Lil Wayne all throughout the day.
VYPE: Off the field, what is your favorite thing to do?
Kana: Off the field, and in between workouts, I like to just chill and hang out with my teammates to rest.
VYPE: In all of your years of football, what is the one memory you'll never forget?
Kana: In all of my years of football I'll never forget celebrating and holding that state trophy with the gold medal around my neck.
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