PORT ARTHUR — PORT NECHES – Whirlwind doesn’t even come close to describing how A.J. Smith’s season has gone this year.
Three weeks ago, he was the starting quarterback for the Port Neches-Groves football team.
Two weeks ago, he switched to receiver full time and took his place in the starting lineup there.
Last week, he played a quarter at his new position before having to go back in at QB after sophomore Ky Walker broke his thumb on the game’s third play.
“Ky came up to me and showed me his thumb, so I thought, ‘I guess I’m going in,’” Smith said. “I just calmed down and did what I had to do for my team to win. That’s what guys have to do as a leader on a team. You have to step up and take care of what’s needed.”
Smith tapped into his prodigious potential after replacing Walker, running and passing PN-G past Lumberton for the Indians’ second victory over the season. Smith completed 10 of 13 passes for 106 yards and a TD, while rushing for 97 yards on 15 carries and adding three more TDs on the ground.
“A.J. went in and really did well,” PN-G head coach Brandon Faircloth said. “He thought I was kidding when I told him he was going in at quarterback. He came in and scored three touchdowns. He had a good night. He came in and just played out of his mind.”
How did he get here?
Smith was the primary backup for starter Travis Miller last season. He came into spring camp as the unquestioned starter at QB, but Walker quickly caught him this fall and forced himself into the lineup.
“(Ky and A.J.) are both great kids,” Faircloth said. “They both reacted the same way. If Ky’s in at quarterback, A.J. goes out to receiver. They have a great relationship and they realize they’re not in competition. We like to think of it as a complement. One of the reasons why Ky got moved into the quarterback spot is that A.J. could help us at other areas. Ky showed us he could play QB and I know A.J. can play receiver. They’ve been nothing but great.”