Vaught's Views: Smith, Turner should share Mr. Football

November 19, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Sometimes trying to cast a Mr. Football vote can be difficult because it's not easy to distinguish the candidates.

This year it's not. My vote is going to Brandon Smith ... and Kelvin Turner.

No, that's not straddling the Boyle County-Danville fence. It's just fairly evaluating what the two players have done for their Title Town teams and coming to the obvious conclusion that there's no way to rate one over the other.

The three other candidates - quarterbacks Curtis Pulley of Hopkinsville, Chris Todd of Elizabethtown and Zach Barnard of Owensboro Catholic - all have impressive credentials.

Start with Todd. He's thrown for over 10,000 yards in his career and has passed for 2,893 yards and 34 touchdowns this year. Pulley, considered the state's top recruit by some, has rushed for over 1,000 yards and thrown for over 2,200 yards and already has been named the Paul Hornung Award winner as the state's top player. Barnard has also had an outstanding year 3,578 yards passing and 40 scores.


Others missing key ingredient

But they are all missing one key ingredient - they have not won a state championship. Turner and Smith have already been starters on two state championship teams.

The Title Town duo also has statistics that more than hold their own with the three quarterbacks from western Kentucky.

Start with Smith. Going into tonight's Class AAA, Region 2 title game here against Central, the Boyle County quarterback is 504-for-837 passing for 8,149 yards and 109 touchdowns in his career. He's one of only 11 players in Kentucky ever to throw for 8,000 or more yards and he has 10,400 yards of total offense.

Want accuracy? He's thrown an interception only once every 40 passes.

Want versatility? He's rushed for 2,206 yards and 39 touchdowns on 373 carries, an average of 5.9 yards per carry. He's also averaged 35 yards per punt the last two years on the rare occasion the Rebels have had to punt.

Smith has already won the Frank Camp Outstanding Football Player Award presented by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation and will be recognized Dec. 10 in Louisville.

Now go to Turner. Going into tonight's Class A, Region 2 title game here against Holy Cross, the Danville running back has rushed for 6,707 yards on 709 carries. That's an unbelievable average of 9.45 yards per run even though he's been a marked man by opposing defenses most of the last three years.

Want durability? He's averaged 122 yards rushing per game for four years. He's played in 56 straight games and has never let an injury force him to miss a high school game.

Want versatility? He has 7,855 all-purpose yards and also has 72 solo tackles, 78 first hits, 72 assists, 24 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback sacks, 10 caused fumbles, six fumble recoveries and four interceptions. Not only does he lead the Admirals in rushing this year, but he also leads the team in tackles for loss, sacks and defensive touchdowns.

Both are record-setters

Turner could also make history tonight. He already has 110 career touchdowns. That ties him for second on Kentucky's all-time scoring list with current NFL running back Shawn Alexander, a former Boone County standout. If he scores twice tonight, he'll tie the all-time record set by Derek Homer of Ft. Knox.

Smith's numbers are historical, too. He's already sixth on the all-time state list for touchdown passes and holds all the passing records at Boyle, including those set by former Mr. Football Jeff Duggins.

Take either player out of the game tonight and his team has no chance to win because not only would the physical skills be missed, but both are also great leaders on and off the field.

If you could pick Smith over Turner or Turner over Smith, fine. Me, I can't do it. They may play for rival teams in Title Town, but they are inseparable on my Mr. Football ballot because their statistics, leadership and state championships are both worthy of being named the state's top high school player.

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