Rodney Smith led Mundy’s Mill to a school-record eight-win season while rushing for 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns for the subregion champion. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
Vitals: Coming off major knee surgery that sidelined him for the last game of the 2012 season, there were some questions as to how effective the 200-pound senior running back would be this season. The 5-foot-11 Smith put all those fears to rest during the 13-game season. He rushed for a county-leading 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns in helping the Tigers reach the Class AAAAA quarterfinals round. For the last two seasons of his high school career, Smith rushed for 3,776 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Why Smith: He almost single-handedly willed the Tigers through the season, and especially in their three-game playoff run. In the postseason, Smith rushed for 840 yards and 10 touchdowns in wins over Houston County and Lee County and the loss to defending state champion Gainesville. It was a 348-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 33-13 win over Houston County at Tara Stadium that begin to get the running back a lot of recognition. Smith ended the season having rushed for over 100 yards in 11 straight games, including four games of over 200 yards. He averaged 8.43 yards per carry.
Others considered: Preston Williams of Lovejoy, Brandon Pearson of Drew and Rashad Canty of Riverdale.
What’s next: Smith will play in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game in January. He will continue recruiting visits and get ready for baseball season. His top three schools are Minnesota, East Carolina and Southern Mississippi.
Coach Greg Manior says: “He was Mr. Everything for us. When we needed a yard or some inspiration, he made it happen. We feed off of him, regardless if it was on offense or defense. He really kept everybody up.”
Q&A with Smith
Question: What was the highlight for you this season?
Answer: “Winning that first playoff football game to continue our season was special. We played a postseason game in our backyard and won. It was a great senior season to end my high school career. Personally, my highlight was ripping off those 348 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Houston County.”
Q: How did you improve this season?
A: “I was just trying to make a comeback after the injury. I was just trying to go out there and run and not worry about my knee. I finally got my confidence and my moves back.”
Q: What was your biggest challenge?
A: “Trying to help this team bounce back after four straight losses to start the season. I thought it was going to be a repeat of last year, but the seniors refused to let that happen.”