Elerson Smith, a senior football player at South High since freshman year, recently committed to signing onto Northern Iowa’s team, the Panthers. He is the first student football player from South to get signed in many years. Leonard Sedlock, football coach of 14 years and health teacher, explained how Smith is “the first one we’ve had here for football since I’ve been [coaching].”
Northern Iowa decided that Smith had what they wanted, offering him a scholarship and a spot on their team. ”Elerson stood out,” explained Sedlock. Smith has “verbally committed” meaning that once signing season comes next year, he’s told UNI he will, indeed, sign. “[They’ve] got a good football program,” Smith smiled, “you know really, they approached me.”
Growing up in South Minneapolis, Smith has been playing football since 6th grade, starting at Anthony Middle School. “It’s really nice being able to be with a family,” he explained “like the football family. It’s kind of hard to find in other sports, and that’s good enough reason [to keep playing] for me.”
There are many reasons why people agree that Smith, who plays defensive end and tight end, is such a good player. “Great attitude, loves the game, he works very hard,” Sedlock explained, “He’s a three sport athlete, I think that’s beneficial too… But his work ethic I would say is a big thing.” Smith also plays basketball and runs track.
Smith, when asked about what makes a good football player, had a very similar answer to Sedlock. “Hard work,” he said. “You have to have a good attitude.”
Many people have seen Smith grow and change over the four years he’s been here at South. “Physically he’s growing,” laughed Sedlock, “But really, his maturity, his leadership…he’s a leader on and off the field. He’s growing up into a fine young man.”
Receiving a scholarship is a big opportunity for Smith. “For me it really means a lot,” he explained, “It’s a relief…I don’t have to pay for college.” Excited for the future, Smith’s plan is to “find a major I like, hopefully get a good job…[and] play football,” he added with a smile.
For anyone who’s currently playing a sport, or who is planning on joining one soon, Smith would like to remind you that “even when you don’t think you’re gonna make it, keep trying. There’s hope for everybody.”