Former Boyle player Jackson Smith enters transfer portal

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Kentucky has always been Jackson Smith’s dream school and probably always will be. However, the former Boyle County placekicker/punter has put his name into the transfer portal after spending two years with the Wildcats.

Jackson’s social media post announcing his transfer said he was “appreciative” of his two years but is looking forward to having an “opportunity to help a special teams unit” as a punter, kick off specialist, kicker or holder.

He was ranked as the top kicker/punter in the 2022 recruiting class by and was a three-time national specialist of the year by He made 72 of 78 extra points his senior year and went 7-for-9 on field goals. He had 68 touchbacks on kickoffs. Boyle seldom punted during its state championship season but when it did he averaged 42.1 yards per kick.

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Smith had a lot of college options but never really considered any school except Kentucky. His father, Andy, played three years at UK and was an all-SEC punter in 1999 when he averaged 42.7 yards per try.

Jackson Smith was redshirted in 2022 and then did not get an opportunity to kick in 2023. His transfer decision was not a surprise because current special teams coach Jay Boulware did not recruit him and it has seemed obvious he does not fit the style of kicker Boulware prefers.

“We are both kind of disappointed in that it is the only place he ever wanted to go,” said Andy Smith.

Transfer kicker Alex Raynor was superb on field goals and extra points last year and returned this season. Punter Wilson Berry still has two years of eligibility remaining.

“The coaches just made it pretty clear to Jackson it would be a little bit more time before he would get his chance. He has been there two years and he wants an opportunity now,” Andy Smith said. “His leaving was kind of mutual. He could have stayed but it looked like more of the same thing and he wants an opportunity to kick.

“He’s very appreciative of his time at Kentucky. He wants to focus on punting and kicking off. He’s had a lot of schools reach out knowing he still has three years left.”

Three of the first schools to reach out were Appalachian State, Western Kentucky and West Virginia. By Tuesday afternoon, seven other schools had also contacted him. Andy Smith started his collegiate career at Western, and West Virginia is coached by former Boyle County standout Neal Brown.

Jackson Smith cannot transfer to another SEC school and be eligible for the fall semester due to the spring transfer protocols.

“Ideally he would like to be at this new school before June workouts start and be ready to work all summer and get ready for the season,” Andy Smith said.

Jackson Smith was redshirted in 2022 but was injured in spring practice of 2023. He needed therapy and treatment almost until the time the 2023 preseason camp opened. With the arrival of Boulware, he went from being a kicker like he was in 2022 to punter.

“Boulware has a different scheme than the previous special teams coach and focuses primarily on hand to foot time and getting the ball off,” Andy Smith said. “Jackson can do the roll out and all the Aussie stuff but that is not the scheme they want to run even with Wilson, who is Australian.”

Andy Smith said his son feels like he let “people down” by putting his name in the transfer portal. However, in today’s college football world, it’s about finding the right opportunity. Remember quarterback Beau Allen started at UK, transferred and is now back at UK for his final season as Brock Vandagriff’s backup.

“It is big business. The portal has changed the landscape of college athletics,” Andy Smith said. “Gone are the days of developing and working your way up. Schools can benefit from the change. Look at the last three quarterbacks at Kentucky. They were all high level transfers who came here to make money and go to the NFL. It’s great from a fan standpoint but it can put players in different positions.

“We are appreciative of his time at Kentucky. It was a perfect setup except for not playing. The reality is he does not want to sit another year and he was not recruited by the current special teams coaches and just wants to go where he can help somebody win.”