With Lake Travis wide receiver Garrett Wilson off the board to Ohio State, the Texas staff was forced switch gears a bit with who they were prioritizing at the position. Jordan Whittington has already reserved his spot in the class and assumed the position as a class leader, but he was overdue for some company at wide out. Particularly some company that could be featured in the slot.
That’s where Jake Smith comes into the equation. Smith made multiple trips to Austin this spring as he made visits to several of the nation’s top programs. Despite making trips to some of the nation’s elite, there was something about Texas that he just couldn’t shake.
Smith was viewed as a USC lean for some time, but after his second trip to Austin for the spring game things started trending strongly for the Longhorns in this recruitment. Things began trending so strongly that even a great visit to Los Angeles couldn’t slow down Texas’ momentum with Smith.
Smith became a much bigger priority when Wilson chose the Buckeyes, but you should know better by now than to doubt this staff on the recruiting trail. Smith has given his pledge to the Longhorns and gives them another nationally ranked wide receiver commit.
Name: Jake Smith
High School: Notre Dame Preparatory
City & State: Scottsdale, AZ
Height: 6’1 (Unverified)
Weight: 189 (Unverified)
40-yard: 4.37 (Unverified)
Vertical: 34 (Unverified)
2017: 118 Rushing attempts, 1135 yards, 11 TDs, 33 receptions, 1055 yards, 15 TDs
- Possesses solid size for the position. Listed at 6’1, 189 pounds.
- Has great speed, acceleration, and short area quickness. The competition he faces struggles just to stay in front of him and he is able to frequently get separation.
- Possesses very good long speed. You don’t see him getting caught from behind much and he even outruns some defenders who have angles on him.
- Shows good body control and coordination as he tracks balls in the air.
- Has good hands and shows the ability to maintain concentration for the difficult catches.
- His versatility really shows up on tape. Rushed for over 1,000 yards at RB and netted over 1,000 yards receiving. Also proved to be a legitimate threat as a return man. Coaches will be able to get creative with him.
- Incredibly elusive once he hits the second and third levels of the defense. He will get his fair share of YAC if the first defender doesn’t get him on the ground.
- Shows good patience, vision, and burst as a ball carrier. Shows a knack for allowing the play to develop and bursting through the hole and to the next level.
- Love his competitive toughness. How many wide receivers do you see willing to line up at running back and slam in between the tackles?
- Has a nose for the end zone. He’s a big play machine and he finds pay dirt often.
- While his listed measurables are solid, I am willing to bet he comes in a little under both in the height and weight category.
- Him being fast isn’t a question, but the 4.37 may be on the generous side.
- Want to see more of the route tree from him on tape. He’s a problem on vertical and deep routes, but he will be asked to do much more in the slot.
- The competition he plays against isn’t great. Thankfully he shows consistently that he can dominate it and doesn’t play down to it.
- Being on the smaller side, I wonder how he will respond against quality corners that will be able to get physical with him when pressed up.
Jake Smith is a two (soon to be three) year varsity starter of Notre Dame Prep out of Scottsdale, AZ. Smith is a bit of a Swiss army knife for Notre Dame’s offense, as he splits time at both wide receiver and running back and excelled at both in 2017. Smith is listed at 6’1, 189 pounds, but my eyes tell me he is probably slightly smaller than what he is listed at, but a true eyeball test is required to confirm those suspicions. Smith rolled up over 1,000 yards as a running back and as a wide receiver, and was the first Arizona high school player to accomplish that feat since Christian Kirk back in 2013. The main thing that jumps off the tape at you about Smith’s game is his speed and elusiveness in the open field. Smith is able to accelerate and get up to top speed quickly and is able to make cuts and make defenders miss without having to slow down much. On top of that, Smith possesses great long speed as you don’t see him getting caught from behind much once he breaks away from the defense. As a pass catcher, Smith shows he has good, reliable hands and shows that he can make the concentration catches like over the shoulder deep balls and or when his vision is obstructed by defenders. As a route runner, Smith’s combination of quickness and straight line speed allow him to frequently get separation from defenders. At this stage in his development, Smith is featured on a lot of vertical routes in the passing game, so he will need to become more comfortable with more parts of the route tree. This holds especially true if Smith is going to be counted on to log heavy snaps in the slot, as he will be asked to work the middle of the field on short and immediate routes and will be asked to find the holes and soft spots in zones rather than just trying to run past guys on vertical routes. I am bullish on him on becoming a more well-rounded route runner though, as he has the movements, agility, and footwork to potentially become a real problem in his aspect of his game. One of my favorite traits about Smith would definitely be his competitive toughness. While he split time at both positions in 2017, in 2016 he was used more as a running back and even though he is on the smaller side you don’t see him shying away from contact as a ball carrier. Smith shows on tape that he is not afraid to pound the rock up in between the tackles and he isn’t a guy that is going to look to bounce it outside and try to rely on his speed every time he touches it. Seeing this on tape makes me feel good about his chances of being a guy who will eventually develop into a reliable chain mover on money downs, as I think he won’t shy away from going over the middle and making tough catches when he knows he will take a lick from a defender. Overall I didn’t find any glaring weaknesses when watching Smith on tape, but something I will note in closing is that the competition he faces doesn’t seem to be very strong, but as I listed above he doesn’t seem to ever play down to the competition and he put up great numbers in 2017. I also think there could be a bit of an adjustment period for him when he makes the transition to college, as he will face bigger, longer defensive backs who will be able to get physical with him and not give him as many clean releases as he is getting right now.
This is a fantastic pickup for Texas and it takes the sting out of losing Garrett Wilson to Ohio State earlier this spring. While some may never get over that loss, this is a heck of a consolation prize and I’m not sure you can even put Smith in that category given the caliber of player that he is.
We are talking about a legit blue chip, Top 100 nationally ranked player with 30+ offers from some of the best programs in the country. And given that Texas lacks a player that could truly be dynamic out of the slot, that makes landing Smith an even bigger victory in my book. Smith has the skillset that will allow him to see the field sooner rather than later due to the versatility that he brings to the table and his ability to contribute to special teams.
Barring injuries, I think Smith truly has a chance to be a heck of a player at Texas and think he could evolve into a player that earns All Big-12 accolades and I think his floor is a solid multi-year starting contributor at the next level. All and all this was a great job recruiting by Tom Herman and his staff, and a great pickup for the Longhorns.