The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
PORT NECHES — One was following in the footsteps of his grandfather and the other was going to a place that felt like home.
On Wednesday, Port Neches-Groves seniors A.J. Smith and Justin Reasons made their college choices final, as Smith signed with Henderson State and Reasons signed with Stephen F. Austin outside of PN-G’s Competition Gym.
Smith’s grandfather, Joe Smith, is a member of the Henderson State Hall of Honor. Joe, who is a secondary coach at Port Arthur Memorial, rushed for a school-record 1,409 yards in 1974 and is third in school history with 2,958 career rushing yards.
“I have a long line of family that went there,” Smith said. “Three of my aunts and my grandpa was a running back there. He’s in their Hall of Honor and he told me how great it was there and the winning tradition they have. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Reasons started all 10 games for PN-G at left tackle last season after starting at both center and right tackle as a junior. A three-year starter, Reasons said the SFA coaches started recruiting him in the spring and made him feel right at home.
“They started recruiting me really early,” Reasons said. “They came to see me in the spring practices and I built up a relationship with them. Every time I went up there for summer camps and for a football game, I felt at home. I felt really comfortable talking to them, like I could say anything in front of them. That relationship was key.”
Smith will be moving positions once again, sliding over to receiver with the Reddies. Smith was moved outside from quarterback once in his senior season, but was forced back under center after sophomore Ky Walker broke his thumb. Smith threw for 1,179 yards and nine touchdowns last season, while rushing for 351 yards and seven scores.
At Henderson State, Smith will be playing with Kevin Rodgers, a former Texas schoolboy quarterback from Rockwall Heath who was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy last season. The Hill Trophy is given to the Player of the Year award for Division II football teams. Rodgers threw for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns last season.
“I got to meet him on my visit,” Smith said. “He’s put up some great stats. They really run a wide open offense, which I like. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Port Arthur News Super Teamer Reasons will also be switching positions, as the SFA coaching staff told him he’d be settling in at center. He’ll be replacing graduating senior John Steel, who started 35 games in his four year career at the position.
“Anything I can do to contribute to the team is great,” Reasons said. “They’re going to put me in a position where I can help out the team.”
Henderson State signed 17 of its 36 recruits from Texas. That number included La Porte receiver Jahvey Mark, Crosby cornerback Justin Walter and Baytown Sterling cornerback Marquis Mitchell.
Stephen F. Austin had a recruiting class of 23 players, including Angleton receiver Joshawa West. Reasons was one of four offensive linemen the school signed, including Houston Eisenhower’s Jalend Washom, and Cedar Hill’s Anthony Pullins.