Jackson’s Smith signs with Morehead State


Jackson FB Bruce Smith is headed to Morehead State

For the second straight season, an Ironman will be taking flight with Eagles.

That’s because Bruce Smith, the standout fullback for the Jackson High School football team, has announced his intention to play college football for Morehead State University.

JACKSON — For the second straight season, an Ironman will be taking flight with Eagles.

That’s because Bruce Smith, the standout fullback for the Jackson High School football team, has announced his intention to play college football for Morehead State University.

Smith’s signing took place on Monday in the Jackson High School commons, as Smith was flanked by his parents, Don and Connie Ferguson; his sister Angel Smith; Jackson High School head football coach Shane Wolford and Jackson High School Interim Athletic Director Paul Blankenship.

Smith becomes a member of the Morehead State Eagles, a member of the Pioneer Football League and a Division I-AA program (NCAA Division I FCS).

Smith said he liked the school’s facilities, and explained that veteran head coach Matt Ballard “was a very good influence on me.”

“The speech that he gave really persuaded me to where I wanted to go,” said Smith. “The coaching staff, period, just seemed like they are a great group.”

He is also the second Jackson Ironman in as many seasons to commit to Morehead State, as placekicker Justin Mullins was a freshman on the Eagles’ squad last season.

He said Mullins made a significant impact on his decision to attend Morehead State.

“Justin really influenced me to go there, we had talked a lot about it,” said Smith.

Smith made his mark as a bruising running back, capturing Division II first-team all-Southeast District honors from the Associated Press.

Smith had played tailback in his previous two varsity seasons, but successfully switched to fullback for his senior campaign.

Smith was one of three captains last season, and rushed his way into the school record books with six touchdowns in the team’s 63-19 Senior Night romp against Athens.

The six scores set a school record for most touchdowns by an individual Ironman in a single game.

The five-foot-nine, 185-pounder rushed for 1,052 yards on 164 carries as a senior, good for 6.4 yards per carry.

He scored 18 touchdowns, and also caught six passes for 62 yards.

His forte, though, was running straight ahead, picking up anywhere from four to eight yards per attempt.

Wolford, Smith’s head coach all throughout high school, described him as “always your go-to guy.”

“Bruce ended up becoming our workhorse over the last couple of years,” said Wolford. “He’s a very hard runner, and at first, it was all north and south with Bruce. He would look for people to try and run over. But he developed some skills where he could make cuts and things like that. He ended up becoming a runner that could break the long one for you.”

And, Wolford knows a thing or two about being a running back at Jackson. He is the school’s all-time leading rusher.

Smith said he was also interested in Kentucky Christian University, where three Ironmen — William Tomblin, Greg James and Koty Bowling — have already announced their intention to play.

Tomblin, a standout lineman, and James, were two of Smith’s primary blockers in the Ironmen’s run-oriented offense.

However, Smith said that the Eagles’ offense is “pretty much the spread.”

“They run probably 60-40 (percent) pass to the run,” he explained. “I like running the ball a lot, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, I’ll be playing running back or receiver, considering my size and everything. But anywhere where I can get on the field is what I want to do.”

He also discussed the difference in formations from Jackson’s running game.

“They won’t run the I-formation very much, they’ll spread the field out,” said Smith. “They usually have a one-back set. They have wingbacks on the sides which run sweeps.”

As for major adjustments, Smith said the speed of the game will be much faster at the college level.

“The speed of the game will definitely be increased, and the competition will be greater,” he said. “It’s harder to run against bigger, faster guys.”

But Smith, who has started since his sophomore season, was one who improved as his career progressed.

“We knew Bruce, even coming in as a sophomore, was going to be a pretty special player for us,” said Wolford. “We knew he could play pretty much anywhere for us. We moved him to fullback last year, and he probably ended up carrying the ball about 20 times a game. Anytime somebody carries the ball 20 times a game, you know they can take a beating and keep going. He’s a guy that never stopped working hard, and that’s why we were able to see the improvement that we did with him.”

Defensively, Smith started out at safety, but made the move to inside linebacker as a junior and outside backer as a senior.

In addition to Honorable Mention all-Ohio honors, Smith was a two-time all-district player and two-time all-Southeastern Ohio Athletic League performer.

He said he was looking at Capital University and Ohio Wesleyan University as well.

But, he decided upon Morehead State.

Wolford said that whichever school landed Smith, they are getting “pretty much the total package in my eyes.”

“He’s a fantastic person number one, and we haven’t had anyone in the last four years that has worked as hard as Bruce has,” said Wolford. “And he’s just a great player, both offensively and defensively.”

Smith summarized his four years as an Ironman, which included a 7-3 season as a sophomore, and back-to-back 6-4 regular seasons the last two falls.

Jackson qualified for the Division III, Region 12 playoffs his junior campaign.

“My four years of high school ball was probably the best experience I’ve ever had,” said Smith.

But now it’s on to Morehead State, and taking flight with the Eagles.

Smith said he was undecided on an exact major, but wants to explore the medical field.



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