One of the nation’s top linebackers, Hilton Head (S.C.) High School star Jaylen Sneed, has had a jam packed summer so far, from attending several camps and going on multiple official visits. His dominant performances in the camp settings have backed up his consensus Top 100 ranking, but those at Hilton Head have known about his elite talent - and character - for quite some time.
For Sneed it's not just about being a great player, it's about being great at everything he does and who he is.
“Last year, by far the top leader on our team," said Hilton Head head coach BJ Payne. "Going into this year, it will be the same way. His sophomore year, we had a very heavy senior class. Jaylen kind of took a step back and respected those older guys. We had some great leaders in that class, and he got comfortable with that."
It wasn't easy for Sneed to do that, but that's what his team needed, and that's ultimately his top priority.
“It was different for Jaylen, his whole life he’s always been ‘the guy’," explained Payne. "The voice he’s been, the action, he’s been everything. Out of respect he stepped back and let those older guys take over, which I thought was absolutely incredible. But, he still stepped up when he needed to.”
Though Sneed displayed maturity as an underclassmen on the football team, he’s now taking over as the lead figure and voice of the program.
“Last year and this year, he’s the captain. He’s completely taken over that role and done a fantastic job,” raved Payne. “He’s the guy that gets after it in the weight room. He’s a great teammate, his teammates love him. He challenges himself and he wants to be the best.”
Sneed has been dominating in the weight room, squatting 500 pounds and power cleaning over 300 pounds. The nation's No. 46 overall player according to Rivals clearly dominates on the field and in the weight room, but that's not the only reason he's such a great fit at Notre Dame.
“His entire life, he’s always been in the honor’s program," said Payne. "People ask what’s the toughest class he’s taking right now, and it’s Chinese 3 honors. That competitive side (in academics) really stems from mom. Mom is huge on the academic piece.
“She’s never let him drop down, that’s something that’s very, very important to his mother,” continued Payne. “If he’s ever late on an assignment or anything like that, mom knows. She’s done an incredible job with him. It’s a piece that he takes very seriously.”
Unwavering and relentless effort on the football field, the weight room and the classroom, but there's more.
“Part of his leadership, he’s always the first one to volunteer," stated Payne. "Whenever we have a fundraiser, he’s the first person to sign up. We just had a lift-a-thon and he earned twice as much as anyone else on the team. Not because he’s Jaylen Sneed and he’s a highly recruited kid, it’s because he puts in the work.
“He goes door to door and he asks ‘hey, would you like to donate to lift-a-thon’?”, continued Payne. “We do a fundraiser called bagging for bucks. We go into the grocery store and bag groceries on the weekends. He is the most talkative person out of everyone there. There are six lines and we have two guys per line. He’s competing to see who can make the most money, and he’s trash talking other teammates seeing who can bag more groceries.”
Payne has high praise for Sneed, who is gifted in every aspect of his life, but his success is the direct result of hard work. Those around him believe he’s a young man who has great character, high integrity, and he’s going to do whatever it takes so that he can be the best person he can be.
Now you know why Notre Dame wants Sneed in the 2022 class as bad as it does.
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