National Siblings Day: Celebrating Two Cowboys Brothers – Rod & Jaylon Smith
National Siblings Day is April 10th. In celebration of the holiday, we recognize the brotherly love of two current Cowboys.
The Cowboys organization likes to call itself a “family”, but for Rod & Jaylon Smith, “family” is more than a word. Older brother, Rod, is a Cowboys fullback. Younger brother, Jaylon, is a linebacker who was selected by the Cowboys in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are “5 Things to Know about Rod & Jaylon Smith”.
1. Last season Rod & Jaylon shared a locker at Valley Ranch during OTAs and Minicamp.
“I feel like we’re back at home when we’re about 6, 7, 8 years old, sharing rooms,” Rod said with a laugh. “It’s cool, though, it’s cool. We joke all the time about it. I’ll admit that I’m messier. Jaylon is a neat freak.”
2. Rod is 3 years older than Jaylon and they grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Both were prized recruits out of high school.
Even though they were both high school stars, they didn’t attend the same school. In fact, they once played against each other. Rod was the star running back at Paul Harding High School. During his senior year, his school played Bishop Luers High School whose star freshman linebacker was Jaylon who had to tackle Rod. By the way, Jaylon attended the same high school as former Cowboys Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Spencer and they’ve been friends since Jaylon was 11 years old.
Rod & Jaylon also played at different colleges. Rod is a Buckeye from Ohio State, and Jaylon was regarded as the nation’s top linebacker during his career at Notre Dame.
3. Of the two brothers, Jaylon is the momma’s boy.
“He’s the momma’s boy, he’ll tell you that,” Rod says of Jaylon. “He clung to mom until maybe middle school.”
Jaylon knows that, as the kid brother, he’ll take playful ribbing from Rod. Even so, Jaylon’s grateful to share his first NFL experience with Rod. “Being on the same team with my brother is a blessing,” says Jaylon. “I lean on him a lot. We’ve grown up together and I look up to him. In everything we’re doing, we have a clear-eyed view.”
Rod teases Jaylon, as all brothers do, but Rod also feels a great deal of sibling pride. “It was an unbelievable feeling to see your little brother accomplish a dream that he set for himself a long time ago,” Rod says of Jaylon being drafted by the Cowboys in the 2nd round. “I was more happy than him. I almost shed a tear. Okay, maybe one tear. I was so happy to see him have his moment.”
4. A look back, a look ahead.
Rod is entering his third season with the Cowboys. He came to Dallas in October 2015 after being waived by the Seahawks. Rod played in 10 games for the Cowboys in 2015 mostly on special teams, and rushed only two times and caught one pass. In 2016, Rod made the transition from running back to fullback. He spent the season on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
Jaylon is rehabbing from a career-threatening knee injury suffered in January 2016 during the Fiesta Bowl. He suffered not only torn ligaments (ACL and LCL), he also is dealing with nerve damage. Jaylon spent his entire rookie season rehabbing. He remains confident he can make a complete recovery and will take part in offseason workouts.
“We have a great training staff here, working with Britt (Brown, Cowboys athletic trainer) and all those guys. So for me it’s putting trust into our team physicians and knowing that everything is going to be alright.”
5. Rod & Jaylon are not the first set of brothers to play for the Cowboys. Heck, they’re not even the first set of brothers with the last name “Smith” to share the Cowboys locker room.
In 1997, running back Emmitt Smith’s younger brother, Emory, was a fullback on the Cowboys’ practice squad. Four years earlier, when Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback, he was joined on the Cowboys’ roster by younger brother, Judd, who was a practice squad running back in 1993. Jason & Judd are reunited in Dallas many years later: Jason as head coach, and Judd as director of pro scouting. In 2007, linebacker Akin Ayodele was Cowboys teammates with brother, Remi (a defensive lineman). The Ayodele brothers grew up in Irving just a few minutes drive from Valley Ranch and Texas Stadium.