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  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, a Bishop Luers graduate, runs kids through drills during the second annual Smith Brothers Earn Your Stripes Football Camp for youth at Bishop D’Arcy Football Stadium on Friday.

  • Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith, a Harding graduate, helps run skills during Friday’s camp.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Dallas Coyboys' football player Rod Smith, right, and brother Jaylon watche the kids run drills during the 2nd annual Smith Brothers Earn Your Stripes Football Camp for youth at the Bishop D'Arcy Football Stadium on Friday.

Saturday, July 07, 2018 1:00 am

Smiths enjoy battling each other

Cowboys teammates bring competitiveness to camp

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

The second annual Smith Brothers Earn Your Stripes Football Camp on Friday featured an atmosphere that encompassed the brothers' personalities and how they described the other at football camps growing up.

“(Jaylon) was probably a little all over the place,” Rod said. “(He was) excited, just to be out here running around, just to be able to compete with his friends in school; the kids he played peewee with, he was definitely competitive and liked to run around and compete.”

Rod, on the other hand, was competitive and hated to lose, even at a young age.

“He was always the best player on the field and everybody knew it,” Jaylon said. “He was a team player, as well, definitely a lot of energy.”

There was no argument from Rod.

“I didn't like to lose,” he said. “When we lost, I used to get really sad. When (Jaylon) won, I used to try and be happy, but I was still sad that we lost.”

Friday's camp at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium was for kids ages 7 to 13, and it had a competitive element to it. But the brothers says it's also about “going out there and having fun.”

“Competition (is important) because you have to think,” Rod Smith said. “A lot of these kids are going to see each other on the field for years to come until high school. They're getting a preview of what they're going to be seeing the next few years and you can see it in their eyes. Kids are repping their schools they go to.”

The Smith brothers' competitive edge hasn't diminished since they became teammates with the Dallas Cowboys – Rod is a running back, and Jaylon is a linebacker.

“It's always been competition,” Jaylon said. “Especially now that we're older and getting a chance to play against each other on an everyday basis.

“At the same time, we're rooting for each other. If I'm on defense on the sideline and he's running the ball, I'm encouraging him when probably I should be cheering for my defense. You have to manage that a little bit, but it's all fun and games.”

The concept of Earn Your Stripes is an element that can be applied on and off the football field, they said.

“Honestly, just being able to reiterate something that me and my brother grew up working for – and that's to earn our stripes,” Jaylon said. “That hard work, determination, dedication. But it's also about having fun. Creating the environment for these kids to do that is something we've always dreamed of doing.”

Rod, a running back, got the opportunity to “earn his stripes” with the Cowboys last season appearing in 13 games, starting one, and rushing for 209 yards on 46 carries and three touchdowns along with 158 receiving yards on 13 catches and a score.

“It's all about the trust from top to bottom, coaches and organization to the players,” Rod said. “With all the situations that happened last year, they trust me. I did my job. I think they respected that. I went out there and earned my respect. I wasn't asked to be given anything, but I went out there and helped the team win.

“I think they see that in me, and I think it's going to be a good year because I'm still here and when they need me, I'll be there.”

Last season, Jaylon, a linebacker, played in all 16 games, had 81 tackles and a sack after missing the entire 2016 season due to the devastating knee injury suffered at Notre Dame during the Fiesta Bowl.

“I'm ready to go,” he said. “Last year, being able to play with my brother is a great feeling. He had an amazing year and now it's my time to match that.

“I'm just here. Whatever they want me to do.”

areichel@jg.net