WELLBORN — After starting 46 games, playing a key role in four Wellborn playoff pushes and being named the 2010 and 2011 3A All-County Offensive Athlete, quarterback Judd Smith ended his career as a Panther by being named the 1A-2A Player of the Year.
“I’ve had a very good high school experience playing football,” said Smith, who was voted to the honor by the 1A-2A coaches. “Just the atmosphere, playing on The Hill out here at Wellborn, it’s been special.
“My dad played here, all my family went here on my mom’s side and my PawPaw played here in the ’60s. It’s just really good to play for a team that has a lot of tradition here.”
However, before Smith was a winner, he entered his freshman year at Wellborn as the new kid.
When his father, Jeff Smith, took the job at Wellborn from Class 6A Hueytown, it was initially a rough transition for the younger Smith before he settled in. The same was the case on the field.
“It was tough at first, but as I began working to be the best I could, working hard and being positive around everybody, it became really good being a leader with everybody,” Smith said.
Running the offense for three years, Smith’s last go-round came wrapped in a special season for Wellborn.
Along with finishing second in its region and making the second round of the playoffs, the offense set the school record for most points in a game, beating Victory Christian 73-0 in Week Three. Wellborn scored at least 42 points in six other games, as well, and averaged 40.7 points per game.
Despite the success, Smith didn’t have overly impressive stats, finishing the year 39-for-59 passing for 634 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions, adding 578 rushing yards and five more touchdowns.
“Judd doesn’t have the stats of a lot of other quarterbacks,” Jeff Smith said. “But his play has been invaluable to us for the last four years.”
That invaluable play is what caused Smith’s role to be as important as the “T” in the wing-T offense.
“I’ve just been in it so long that I know who the offensive linemen are supposed to block, who to get it to,” he said. “I’m just used to this offense and I love it.
“The main job for the quarterback in our offense is after I hand it off, I have to fake it. A lot of times I’d draw two guys off and it just helped a lot and kept the defense off balance. That’s how we’d make big plays this season.”
Playing a large role as a game manager the past four years, the quarterback felt this was a fitting ending to a career as a four-year starter.
“It’s an honor to be the 1A-2A Player of the Year by the coaches nominating me,” Smith said. “We finished 9-3, and we were 2-18 when I got here.
“The future’s real bright at Wellborn.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.