When Jaylon Smith went down as Notre Dame took on Ohio State in the final game of his collegiate career, it could have easily been the final play of his career.
A catastrophic knee injury left Smith with nerve damage and a condition known as drop foot that gave him little control over the ankle joint on the affected leg. It was no guarantee that the condition would subside, but the Dallas Cowboys took a chance on him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
A year later, he made his debut and ultimately became a starting linebacker for the Cowboys despite the fact he was still battling complications from the injury and wearing an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). Which made it particularly impressive that he recorded 99 total tackles last season.
However, Smith has taken another huge step in his recovery according to a report from Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Smith is out of the AFO and is no longer feeling the effects of drop foot.
According to Hill, Smith has been running freely since February and has regained the speed that made him a potential top-five pick prior to his injury at Notre Dame. So it’s been a remarkable two-year recovery for Smith and it’s exciting to think about him reaching his full potential this fall.