Lonoke Jackrabbits football player Kody Smith is the newest member of the first recruiting class at Lyon College.
Smith signed a national letter of intent to play for the Scots during a ceremony Friday in the foyer of the Gina Cox Center. Lyon, an NAIA school, is resuming its football program in the fall of 2015. It’s been more than 60 years since Lyon, then known as Arkansas College, fielded a football team.
Smith said one of the reasons he chose Lyon was because he wants to be able to help them start a new tradition of football.
“When I toured the campus, what really sold it for me, was that Coach [Kirk] Kelley told me that I could be the first one to score a touchdown or the first one to get an interception,” he said. “When I was touring the campus and saw the big picture of the last football team they ever had, I thought since I’ll be on the first team, we will be up there too.”
Smith, a three-year starter for the Jackrabbits, played quarterback in 2013 after playing defense in 2011 and 2012. He helped lead Lonoke to a 9-3 season, advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Smith completed 73 of 111 passes for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns.He rushed for 1,510 yards and 20 touchdowns on 211 carries.
Smith said it’s always been his dream to play football at the collegiate level.
“I always played in the front yard by myself, dreaming of this opportunity,” he said.
Smith said he was contacted by other schools and had official visits planned but didn’t take them after he committed to Lyon.
Smith said he was recruited as a running back.
“They told me they are going to run the I-formation,” he said. “I’m definitely not a pro-style quarterback.”
Kelley, who was the pitching coach at the University of Central Arkansas a year ago, was the former athletic director and baseball coach at Lyon College.
“My assistant Nick Palese saw him first in person,” Kelley said of Smith. “He came back and we immediately started watching his film.
“I like him because he’s an athlete. He’s a good ole-fashioned football player. He can play multiple positions. He’s a hard-nosed kid. He also fits the profile of Lyon College. We have to have the true student-athlete.”
Lonoke coach Doug Bost said Smith going to Lyon is a great opportunity for him.
“He’s a big reason why we went 9-3 this year,” Bost said. “Kody has a great opportunity to further his education while playing college football. I know Kody and his parents are very excited for this opportunity.”