Smith, Kayser leave lasting legacy
PDT Sports Editor
Football is measured in wins and losses, which looks favorably on the Notre Dame Titans who completed the 2013 season with an 8-3 record. While Notre Dame added eight wins to its resume, Titans’ running backs Dakota Smith and Jack Kayser rewrote the history books along the way.
Smith and Kayser became the first tandem in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Smith finished the regular campaign with 1,564 yards on 151 attempts and 27 touchdowns, while Kayser carried the ball 144 times for 1,185 yards and 16 scores.
Notre Dame coach Bob Ashley realizes the magnitude of the record-breaking accomplishment.
“They have set the bar very high for everyone else to follow,” Ashley said. “Traditionally, there have been some very good backs that have gone through the Notre Dame football program and these two guys will be etched in Notre Dame history forever.”
Kayser can see the impact that holding the record has on future generations.
“Seeing the kids in elementary, they love it. We’re famous down there,” Kayser said. “Hopefully we will show them how fun winning is, hopefully they’ll learn from it and keep the tradition going.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Smith.
“Hopefully it’ll motivate them to try and repeat history,” Smith said. “It’d be awesome if another two backs did what we did. I’d love that.”
Kayser was elated to have the record, but acknowledged the hard work and dedication provided by the two senior captains.
“I think we earned it in the offseason,” Kayser said. “I feel like we both deserve it. Me and him push each other. We make each other better. We compete against each other in the weight room, and on and off the field. It shows on the field. I wouldn’t have 1,000 yards without him and he wouldn’t have 1,000 yards without me.”
Ashley also noted how the two senior backs competed against each other every day of their high school careers.
“In the weight room they push each other. In the classroom, I’m sure they push each other. On the football field, they do a great job of pushing each other to be the best they can be,” Ashley said
According to Ashley, Smith and Kayser were ultimate team players.
“They’re very unselfish,” Ashley said. “They do a lot when they’re not carrying the ball, they are usually blocking for one another. They are just a special pair of guys and I was very fortunate to be able to coach them.”
Smith was thankful to accomplish such a feat.
“It’s a great feeling to break the record,” Smith said. “I just want to thank the (offensive) line for allowing that to happen. It feels good.”
While Smith and Kayser garnered the individual accolades, the offensive line was instrumental in the tandem’s success. The line is comprised of center Charlie Eichenlalub, guards Rome Tovine and C.J. Smith, and tackles Daniel Ogg and Evan Coriell
“As good of backs as they were, we had some great guys up front. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say anything about them,” Ashley said. “Our offensive line did a nice job all year long. They did a real nice job of attacking, blocking at the point of attack and performing as one unit. We run a lot of Wing-T concepts with a lot of different looks, we do a lot of down blocking, pulling and running with the line, those guys did a real nice job of that all year long. “
The Titans suffered key injuries along the offensive line during the course of the season, but the overall performance of the unit could not be derailed.
“They’re impressive,” Kayser said. “They faced some adversity throughout the season. We had to have some people step up like Rome. We’ve had some injuries on the line. They are a huge part of our offense. They make our offense go.”
Smith and Kayser both plan on playing at the next level but their destinations are still unclear.
During the last four years, a certain chemistry has developed between the two players on the gridiron, which comes as no surprise to Smith or Kayser.
“He’s been my best friend since 7th grade,” Smith said. “That helps. Neither one of us are selfish when it comes to football. We both share the ball and block for each other. The key is not being selfish.”
Kayser could not agree more with Smith’s analysis.
“He’s my best friend,” Kayser said. “We talk constantly in school and in class about what we need to do to get things going on offense. What we need to do to help each other score.”
Smith has visited Georgetown and Pikeville which are both located in Kentucky. Kayser has visited Mount Union, Wittenberg and Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.
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