He ‘Taz’ what it takes; Smith-Windsor selected to high school football prospects game

Taz Smith-Windsor played running back and linebacker last season with the Carlton Crusaders. --Submitted photo/Taz Smith-Windsor

Carlton Crusaders football player Taz Smith-Windsor had a successful season on the gridiron, and now he’s capping it off with an incredible opportunity.

The grade 11 student was named to the Canadafootballchat.com Prospects Game, which will feature the brightest stars from high schools across the country on Friday, May 27, and will be broadcasted on TSN.

“I was pretty shocked,” Smith-Windsor said when he was selected to play in the game. “I was definitely nervous when I was waiting to see if I would get an email or not, but I was so excited when I found out that I made the final roster.”

Smith-Windsor not only spent time with the Crusaders, but he spent time playing in Saskatoon as well with the North Sask Academy, and in Moose Jaw with the Sask. Selects program in the winter. He feels his time in Saskatoon gave him the best shot at cracking the roster, since he was playing out of position with Carlton.

“I was happy with my season in high school, but I think the football I played in Saskatoon as a defensive back helped as well,” he explained. “My high school gave me an opportunity to really succeed, and that helped my a lot to get selected for the prospects game.”

This season with the Crusaders, Smith-Windsor spent time on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He played running back and linebacker with Carlton. While he may not have played his primary position in the fall, he was still able to learn a lot more about the high school level game. To make his season even cooler, Taz was able to play alongside his little brother Sullivan, who was in the pocket calling the shots at quarterback.

“It was a blast. I don’t think I’ve had a more fun high school season,” Taz said. “I got to play on the same side of the ball as Sullivan, and we made a lot of good plays together, he threw me a few touchdown passes which was really special. He’s a great leader on our team, and I got to spend that season with him and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

To make it into the national spotlight is one thing. To do it after a two year pandemic where showcasing your skills was made more difficult is another. Smith-Windsor proved his capabilities in his first high school football season, as well as the time he spent in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. He explained how he was able to keep sticking with the sport he loves, and how he came out of the pandemic as a highly touted defensive player.

“My high school head coach, Lindsay Strachan, did a great job of trying to keep us active in the sport, even while adhering to the government policies and guidelines around COVID-19,” he explained. “He ran practices while we were all wearing masks and working in small groups. I worked with him and went to all of the camps that were still running, and then I did everything I could to better myself. Hopefully it will pay off.”

While scouts will be filling the stands and taking in the game in Ottawa on the 27, Smith-Windsor says he will be focused on playing his own game, and not letting the pressure of the bright lights get to him. It will be his first game under a national spotlight, and he hopes to make a good impression on those in attendance.

“Absolutely there is some pressure with the game, but I think if I just play my own game and stick to the defense that we’re running and execute that, I should be okay. I’m sure my coaches and teammates will put me in a position to succeed and do my job.”