Bryson Smith Filling Big Shoes

Justin Wells

Inside Texas Web Editor
Staff member
Jul 22, 2013
TYLER -- Following in the shoes of 2016 Heisman contender and leader of the No. 6 ranked Houston Cougars, Greg Ward Jr, can be tough. But Bryson Smith is doing just that.

The senior signal-caller at John Tyler was in 8th grade when Ward was leading the Lions deep into the 4A playoffs. When Ward signed with UH, Smith couldn't have envisioned what would transpire over the next few seasons.

Flying under the radar as a first-year starter last season, he put up PlayStation numbers; 2,415 yards passing and 20 TDs, adding 1, 421 yards rushing and 21 scores leading the Lions to a 16-5A District title.

So naturally the similarities to Ward appeared. Both 6-foot-0, both dual-threats, both putting up insane numbers, and when Smith committed to Houston last May, the comparisons increased.

"He commands the offense," said John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes. "He commands the huddle, a lot like Greg did. He demands the respect, like Greg. So naturally you can see a lot of Greg in Bryson."

To Smith's advantage, he might be the better athlete. I've seen Bryson do things on the basketball court Greg could never do. It's that athletic ability and leadership that stands out. When Ward didn't garner many offers, Smith did.

Purdue, Memphis, Bowling Green, Tulsa, SMU, and Tulane were among the many suitors for Smith's services. But when UH coach Tom Herman and the Cougars came calling, he knew where he belonged.

"I just love the environment they have down there," said Smith about Houston. "The winning culture and the coaches push you to your potential. Also it's not to far away from home, so that's part of it too. I love the campus as well. And coach Herman is a genius."

Smith was there last weekend to watch his future Cougars dismantle No. 3 Oklahoma at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

"I was in attendance," said Smith. It was super lit."

So far in 2016, his Lions have started 2-0 after being moved up to 6A after last season's realignment. Coach Holmes says it doesn't matter what classification you are in, it's still 11-on-11. It won't change Cujo's approach or Smith's for that matter. He's already tallied 31-of-56, 537 yards through the air, five TDs, and 180 yards on the ground and a score in wins over Plano West and Ennis.

With his newfound popularity, he's bound to pick up more recruiting interest, but it might not matter.

"No other schools have reached out since my commitment," said Smith. "I think it's a possibility but you never really know. If I do that's cool, and if I don't, I won't be disappointed. I am strongly committed to UH."

"He's a fit for UH, but he'd be fit for anyone," Holmes said. "He's got the arm, the mentality, and makeup to be successful at any school in the country."

A source told me Oregon is a school starting to look at Smith and it's easy to see why.

But for now, filling in for the former JT star, Ward, at Houston in 2017 seems to fit Smith just fine. Like a shoe.
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