Vaught's Views: Mr. Football? It should be Smith or Turner

September 03, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Tonight's Title Town Showdown will showcase two of the state's premier players who should be getting a lot more Mr. Football attention than what they are.

Boyle quarterback Brandon Smith and Danville running back Kelvin Turner have not only put up big numbers during their prep careers, but they have also won state championships.

Yet because they are not at the top of Division I recruiting rankings, or even in the top 15 of some recruiting lists, they apparently are not being as highly regarded as Mr. Football candidates as some other players.

"Sometimes I wonder how the voting is even done," said Danville coach Sam Harp. "I have had some guys be Mr. Football candidates when we won state titles, but the award was given to someone else who had great individual statistics."


Sportswriters and sportscasters across the state select Mr. Football. There are no specific criteria on what it takes to be Mr. Football.

Smith and Turner certainly have numbers that merit consideration. Coming into the season, Smith had completed 327 of 565 passes for 5,362 yards and 71 touchdowns and rushed for 1,477 yards and 26 touchdowns. This year he's added 201 yards rushing and five touchdowns and 507 yards and six touchdowns. That means he has thrown for 77 touchdowns and 5,869 yards and rushed for 32 touchdowns and 1,678 yards while leading the Rebels to two state titles and a 29-3 record.

Turner had rushed for 4,513 yards and 61 touchdowns and had 912 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches coming into the season. He's rushed for 410 yards and five scores and caught a 41-yard pass this season. That means he rushed for 4,923 yards and 66 touchdowns - while averaging over nine yards per game - and amassed 953 receiving yards. Turner also played key roles defensively on Danville's state title teams in 2001 and 2003.

Yet if you look at the Mr. Football leaders, there are a lot of other names being mentioned. Ones like Hopkinsville quarterback Curtis Pulley, Lexington Catholic linebacker Brandon Logan, Fairdale running back-safety Maurice Grinter and Elizabethtown quarterback Chris Todd. It's no coincidence that those players are Division I recruiting targets while Smith and Turner are still waiting, and hoping, for the same offers to come their way. Of course, those same players are also waiting to see if they can finally get a state championship ring to match those Turner and Smith already have.

"I think Mr. Football ought to be considered not only on individual production, but also on the status of what you help your team do," Harp. "There have been a couple of guys who went only to play small college football that got the award. It ought to be based on what you do to help your team. Brandon and Kelvin have the numbers, but they've also helped their teams win championships."

Amen, Chuck Smith

Say amen, Chuck Smith. While Harp says Brandon Smith is the best quarterback he's seen at Boyle, Chuck Smith is just as lavish in his praise of Turner. Chuck Smith also understands the expectations both players have on them because they play in Title Town.

"For what they have done, they should both be right at the top of the entire state when it comes to Mr. Football," Chuck Smith said. "They both do so much for their teams. Both are great football players.

"They have to go out and perform against top competition because of the programs they are involved in. They are expected to play their best every game. Sometimes their numbers could both be better but they are either playing against great competition, or they are playing against a team is overmatched and they don't play a full game."

Tonight both will be centers of attention. For either team to win, it's star has to have a big game. That not only means they will put pressure on themselves, but it also means once again they will be the focus of the opposing defense.

Still, both have normally performed their best in the biggest games.

"Trying show me a more complete back than he is," Harp said of Turner. "There might be guys who run better. There might be guys who catch a little better. There might be ones who block better. But find me somebody who can do all three and I'll be surprised."

"Brandon is a competitor and winner," Chuck Smith said. "He might not be as big as some quarterbacks or as fast as others, but when he has to make a play, he makes it."

They both do and that's why even if they are not the state's top recruits, they still should be the state's top contenders for Mr. Football.

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