Gavin Smith felt the pressure of following older brother Jake, after he was named the Gatorade National HS football Player of the Year in 2018.
That pressure eased into relaxation and into his own path to stardom at Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep.
He now takes center stage Friday night at Tucson Salpointe Catholic in the 5A quarterfinal football matchup.
“I think Salpointe’s a great team but in my four years here this is the best we have played,” Smith said.
Smith hasn’t had to hang onto Jake’s accolades to get through high school.
Now a senior, he is coming off the best game of his career in a 56-21 first-round playoff win over Glendale Apollo. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Smith scored three touchdowns, each more than 50 yards, in three different ways — rushing the ball, receiving the ball and returning a punt.
Smith had only four touches and amassed more than 200 all-purpose yards.
What he’s done is put the Saints in position for what will be their biggest hurdle yet — trying to beat a Salpointe team that made it to the Open Division the last two seasons, is strong in the trenches and has a senior quarterback, Treyson Bourguet, who has been through the Open wars.
“Gavin has created his own legacy here and it’s a great one,” said Notre Dame coach George Prelock, who has coached both brothers. “We talked about it. Don’t even mention it. He’s has had a wonderful career. He’s an outstanding young man. He’ll play beyond and do great things.”
Two weeks ago, Smith committed to the University of Arizona as a preferred walk-on. With Smith’s talents, work ethic, coachability, Prelock has no doubt that Smith will earn his way on the field and make an impact.
Notre Dame Prep WR on following up on his brother’s success
WR Gavin Smith of Notre Dame Prep talks about living up to his brother Jake’s reputation. Jake Smith was the Gatorade National HS player of the year.
Richard Obert, Arizona Republic
If he does, he could be playing against his brother Jake, who has transferred from Texas to USC.
Jake Smith helped lead Notre Dame Prep to back-to-back 5A championship games in 2017 and ’18. But both of those seasons ended in Notre Dame’s only losses — in the final.
Like Jake, Gavin plays wide receiver, running back, returns kicks and starts on defense. Jake played cornerback, whereas Gavin plays outside linebacker.
Like Jake, Gavin has been that impact guy, a leader whose actions speak, but who doesn’t seek attention, who is humble and does whatever it takes to win football games.
Gavin was a freshman at Notre Dame when he saw his brother receive his Gatorade National Player of the Year award.
“I had to live up to it, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job,” Gavin said. “I was mainly just excited for him. I was never really jealous. We have a good relationship.
“He’s been a great role model.”
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