football Edit

Touchdowns and theatre: SMU-bound Jayleen Record has tales beyond football

SMU commit Jayleen Record's talent goes far beyond what he can do with a football in his hand.

Jayleen Record is the reigning UIL District 6-3A MVP.
Jayleen Record is the reigning UIL District 6-3A MVP. (Twitter: @JayleenRecord)

The easy answer, when asking about Dallas Madison all-purpose back Jayleen Record, is to check the highlight tape. He's a football player. A pretty good one, too.

His 1,159 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns support that argument. The 14 receiving touchdowns in 22 catches make any additional arguments hard to counter. His District 6-3A MVP accolade, which led to a commitment to SMU, put exclamation marks on his abilities.

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Record's a football player, but there is more to life than football. His favorite NFL player of all time is Barry Sanders, but it's no secret at Madison that, to some, he may be more Jordan Peele than Sanders.

Record has a passion for the arts -- a passion so deep that he's written a screenplay and is working on a book. All before he turns 18.

"It was a short screenplay, but it was about 16 pages," Record said of a high school project that has become a noteworthy topic of discussion.

"It took me about two or three months. I named it 'Behind Closed Doors.'"

The perfect script

Record met Cody Moore, then Madison High School's theatre director, a couple of years ago. Moore is no longer at the school, but he left a lasting impression with a student who will be the first to admit was a problem child growing up.

"I was a freshman, and when he came, he made me get in his class," Record said of Moore. "I acted out a lot, so he made me act act."

Come to find out, Record wasn't a bad actor. He said acting felt natural, and there was never any stage fright.

While acting was cool, writing and directing was more of Record's wheelhouse -- something that grabbed his attention almost similarly to how playing football did. Record was given the assignment to write a screenplay, and he teamed up with Madison wide receiver Christian Henry to put together the storyline.

The summary: Two main characters, Don and Donnie, became best friends when they were children, primarily fueled by having similar names. Don grew up in a single-parent lifestyle in housing projects. Donnie grew up in a two-parent household originally in a suburban neighborhood on the opposite side of town, but his parents lost their jobs and moved to Don's neighborhood.

The two got into tons of mischief growing up, and as they got older, Don ultimately persuaded Donnie into robbing a bank. Donnie backed out of the attempt last minute, which left a sour taste in the mouth of Don.

Two weeks after the failed attempt, Donnie received a call from Don -- in jail. Don eventually was released from jail and remained angry that Donnie didn't follow through with the original plan.

The result: Don ultimately set up Donnie to put him in jail for a life-sentence crime he didn't commit. Don then murdered Donnie's girlfriend.

"When we did the play, we used high school students. We were good enough actors to do it as kids," Record said. "As it went on, you started seeing people with tears in their eyes and all kinds of facial expressions.

"Behind Closed Doors" was suspenseful. It was chilling. It was a psychological thriller indeed.

It also redefined Record. No longer was he the guy who was only good on the football field to many people.

"As a grade, you could get 50 points -- 25 from when they read the play and 25 after they watched it," Record said. "I got all 50."

Making a choice

A few weeks after the play, Record was asked to come into Moore's classroom. He entered to unexpected applause.

"I asked what was going on," Record said, "and [Moore] told me I was offered a scholarship."

Turns out that screenplay was good enough to get Record into a theatre arts undergraduate school. Record was flattered and thanked Moore for believing in him.

Then, he asked Moore an important question.

"Can I play football there?" Record asked.

This was a question Record asked before finding out the name of the school that actually offered the scholarship. And when he found out the school didn't have athletics, he respectfully declined.

To this day, Record doesn't name the school that offered.

"I had to tell him," Record said of Moore, "I don't mean to be rude, but I'm going to have to turn it down. He told me he understood and said I was good at what I do. Then he said, 'You go do what you love.'"

Record loves football. The training videos from the spring show it. Hearing him discuss the intricacies of a quality workout -- versus having a bad one -- shows that playing next-level football isn't a joke to him.

At 5-9 and 165 pounds, Record isn't the biggest guy on the field. So his goal is to make sure he outworks everyone. There's a reason why he was named the MVP of his district, in addition to earning all-state honorable mention accolades by both the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Texas Sports Writers Association.

Record committed to SMU on Mother's Day to pay homage to his mother, Chastity Masters. It was the perfect day for him to fulfill a life-long dream, as he's wanted to go to SMU since taking a field trip to the university in second grade.

Recruited to SMU by wide receivers coach David Gru, Record will join another former Madison star next season. Wide receiver Danny Gray, a standout in the JUCO ranks at Blinn College, signed with SMU as a part of the 2020 class.

"I see [Gray] and talk to him almost every day about how he's finally on the next level and I'm almost there," Record told The HillTopics when he committed. "He tells me that SMU is a great school, and why he chose it -- not because it was close to home but because it made him feel comfortable."

Upon his arrival to the Hilltop, Record is expecting to be used as a slot receiver, as well as a special teams return specialist. He's also looking to push the other players to their full potential and challenge for playing time early in his career.

That's on the field. Off the field, look for Record to continue with his passion for the arts. He currently is writing a book about the life of his father, the late Michael Record, who passed away in March of 2019.

"I've been on that about four or five months now," Jayleen said. "And when I finish, I plan on publishing it."

Coming to reality

Football will always be a first priority, but don't expect him to give up theatrical writing. He believes in himself, and he continues to take the words of Moore with him.

Moore left Madison and the state of Texas for family-related reasons. Moore helped grow Record into more of a well-rounded individual and helped him tap into sources he didn't know he had.

"I can say one thing," Record said. "When you're writing, you have to have a clear mind. I've had to learn how to meditate -- real-life meditating, where you sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and clear your mind.

"When you write, all of your thoughts need to be complete."

All of the mental tools of becoming a better writer have transitioned to what Record does in football. He said he plays the game with more patience. He said he sees things develop on the field a lot quicker. All because he's developed a better sense of focus he thought would only help him as he scribbled ideas using pen and paper.

What Record has now seen is the culmination of his life -- and the preparation of his next chapter.

"I'm going to be honest. It all set in probably a few days ago," Record said. "I was talking to my girlfriend, and I thought about how hard I've worked. I've shed tears of joy because I've been so happy.

"It's powerful that I did what I said I was going to do and what I promised my dad. I did what all the doubters said I couldn't. I used to be a troubled kid in middle school and elementary school. I had a lot of teachers telling me I'd be dead or in jail by 16 or 17. All of those thoughts kept coming in my head."

Record continued: "Everybody who doubted me, I proved them all wrong. But I now know a lot of the teachers were telling me those things because they cared, and they wanted me to prove them wrong."

Record's next step now is finishing out his senior season at Madison, then working to land a spot on SMU's depth chart. He knows the tasks at hand won't be easy. Nothing ever is.

But everything is worth working for. Football, theatre, life in general.

"I look at college, and I tell myself as a freshman, you've got to go hard," he said. "As a sophomore, you go harder. As a junior, you go even harder. As a senior, you go even harder. I'm ready for the ride. "It's always been a dream, but it's finally coming true."