Football

Skyridge CB Smith Snowden named 2022 Deseret News Mr. Football

A shutdown corner is one of the most coveted positions for NFL and college coaches, and that was certainly no different for Skyridge High School this season with the way Smith Snowden tilted the field defensively.

But the senior was so much more than just a defensive specialist. He impacted the game in countless ways week after week for Skyridge in all three phases, but it was in the biggest moments when he truly was at his best.

It was his corner blitz on fourth down in the championship that was the nail in the coffin for Corner Canyon. It was his pick-six in the first half of the 6A semifinals that completely crushed Bingham’s upset hopes. And late in the regular season, it was his kick return touchdown against Lone Peak that sparked a rally that restored the belief within the program that led to a seven-game winning streak to end the season.

“There are a lot of good players, but there are very few impact players that regardless of who they’re playing and what the scheme is, he will find a way to impact the game,” said Skyridge coach Jon Lehman.

For all the different ways Snowden impacted games this season, he’s been named the Deseret News 2022 Mr. Football Award recipient.

“He’s a great blend of confidence and humility. He believes that in any situation that he’s the best on the field and he can go make a play that can help the team and he’s been doing it since he was a sophomore,” said Lehman. “He also really cares about people on a genuine level. He loves his teammates, he loves his coaches. He really wants to be a good person. He’s just really likeable and good to be around.”

Smith officially announced his commitment to the University of Utah on Monday after narrowing his list down to Utah and BYU. Utes defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, the first Deseret News Mr. Football recipient 26 years ago, is getting a great athlete to help continue on the tradition of strong Utah defenses.

Snowden finished the season with 28 tackles, six interceptions, 14 pass breakups and two defensive touchdowns. He was rarely challenged defensively as an outside cornerback this year, a big reason Skyridge’s coaching staff put him in more nickel back situations this season to broaden his impact on the field.

Regardless, teams rarely threw his way.

“He impacted what offenses are willing to do because he’s on the field. There’s a lot of offenses that changed what their approach was to our team because there was just concern that if they challenged Smith he would make them pay,” said Lehman.

Bingham learned that the hard way in the 6A semifinals. Facing a third-and-8 on the 16th play of its opening drive, Bingham’s QB threw a pass in the direction of Snowden, who intercepted it, broke two tackles and then returned it 95 yards for the touchdown. It was an absolute dagger for Bingham which did everything right on that opening drive to build confidence about pulling off the upset. In one moment Snowden changed everything.

It was a moment that showcased Snowden’s athleticism, but for him it was a reflection of years of working on his craft.

“I like to call myself a technician. A lot of offseason work got me to where I am now, working on my craft,” said Snowden.

The Skyridge senior toyed around with the idea of graduating early to begin his college football career earlier, but one of the reasons he chose not to was his competitiveness on the track. Snowden tied for the fastest 100 meter time in the state last season with a 10.54 that he ran in the 6A state meet.

He’d had his sights set on breaking the 41-year-old state record of 10.47, but ultimately came up short. He’s excited about putting in the speed work this winter and spring to give himself one more shot at etching his name in the state record books.

Snowden’s speed was obviously a huge benefit defensively in his ability to shutdown opposing receivers, but it also allowed him to clinch a state title for Skyridge with his tackling ability.

With Skyridge leading 17-7 and less than four minutes left in the game, Corner Canyon faced a fourth-and-2 at Skyridge’s 4-yard line but elected to go for it instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal. Snowden attacked the play on a cornerback blitz, ultimately tackling Corner Canyon quarterback Isaac Wilson a yard short of the first down.

“I got the tackle and looked down and saw he didn’t get it so I just ran to the sideline to celebrate with my teammates knowing the game was over,” said Snowden.

The return specialist never got a chance to return a kick in that game as Corner Canyon squibbed it every time. Several times it resulted in a kick out of bounds and the ball at the 40-yard line. Lehman said that type of starting field position was pretty common for his team as teams just didn’t want to flirt with Snowden’s special teams playmaking ability.

“He just changed how people would play against us,” said Lehman.

That ability to change a game directly and indirectly helped Snowden separate himself as the premiere high school football player in Utah this season.

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