Five days ago, John Tyler senior quarterback Bryson Smith cemented his future by signing with the University of Houston.

If this sounds familiar, it should.

Just four years prior, another Lions quarterback participated in the pageantry of National Signing Day by inking with the Cougars. His name was Greg Ward.

John Tyler Bryson Smith looks up field for running room.
John Tyler quarterback Bryson Smith.

And just like Ward, Smith re-wrote the John Tyler record books and hopes to begin a similar collegiate career.

Smith was voted Offensive Player of the Year on the 2016 East Texas Football Super Team, joining past winners like Damien Haskins, Patrick Mahomes, Blake Bogenschutz, Blake Lynch, and last year’s recipient Ke’Mon Freeman.

“He’s been keeping the tradition of great quarterbacks coming through John Tyler alive,” said John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes. “He’s a great young man, great student, great football player. He knows what he’s doing and he does it well, and he does it with confidence.”

Smith put together a massive senior campaign, totaling 4,930 yards of offense and accounting for 55 touchdowns. He passed for 3,277 yards and 32 TDs, and ran for a team-best 1,653 yards and 23 scores.

In the process, Smith set the school’s all-time rushing record, surpassing Jeremy Johnson and Kendall Hunter, who previously shared the mark. Smith finished his JT career with 3,100 rushing yards.

“They were most definitely trying to keep me in the pocket,” Smith said of opposing defenses. “But what they didn’t realize is that I’d rather throw the ball than run the ball. But when stuff broke down, I didn’t hesitate, I took off.”

It all added up to an 11-2 record, which included a share of the District 11-6A championship and a berth in the regional semifinal round of the playoffs.

“We prepared well in practice and did a lot of extra stuff, and in the summertime I put in a lot of extra work, working out and doing a lot of drills with coaches and even by myself and with my teammates,” Smith said. “We established a lot of chemistry, and it showed on the field last year.”

John Tyler Bryson Smith reaches out for the endzone.
John Tyler's Bryson Smith reaches the end zone for his final of three ground touchdowns against Rockwall on Sept. 16.

Now, Smith will head to Houston and draw immediate parallels with Ward, who guided the Cougars to a 22-5 record the last two seasons. Included in that were wins over top 10 opponents Florida State, Oklahoma, and Louisville.

“I’m just ready to start my new journey and this next chapter in life,” Smith said. “I’m just ready to get down there and get better because I know the coaches are gonna prepare me well and coach me up, and just take me to that next level.”

The high school comparison with Ward is interesting.

Both players were receivers as sophomore before taking over at quarterback their final two years at JT.

“When he was a sophomore playing receiver we knew he was going to be pretty special,” Holmes said of Smith. “We threw him in as a backup quarterback and let him do a couple of things. We knew then that the next two years were gonna be pretty special for us with this kid.

“He’s a nice-sized kid, he’s actually a little bit taller and bigger than (Greg Ward) was when he got ready to graduate. I can’t wait to see how he’s going to fill out his next couple of years at the University of Houston.”

Bryson Smith - Houston
John Tyler quarterback Bryson Smith signed with Houston last Wednesday. (Rob Graham,

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