Even though new Texas Longhorn receiver Jake Smith has joined his new teammates on campus, he still is receiving recognition for his incredible senior season. Tuesday in Hollywood, CA, the playmaker out of Scottsdale was honored as the 2018-2019 Gatorade National Football Athlete of the Year, as part of the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award ceremony.
He came up short for the National Athlete of the Year award, which went to Bobby Witt, Jr. who was recently drafted No. 2 in the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. In spite of that, Smith earned the trip to California by serving as as the do-everything man for Notre Dame Preparatory.
In his final high school season, he hauled in 64 receptions for 1,112 yards and 22 TDs, 741 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground, returned punts and kicks for 588 yards, made 20 tackles as a defensive back, and even handled punting duties to the tune of 40.3 yards per kick.
With his efforts, Smith cemented himself as the No. 49 player in the nation according to 247Sports and his versatility caught the eyes of the Texas coaching staff, earning him a spot in the 2019 class.
“He can do everything: run it, catch it, return it, play DB, I’m sure he could drive the bus to the away games if you needed him to,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said of Smith in his National Signing Day press conference. “Multi-sport athlete. Excels at lacrosse, as well. Just excited about his versatility.”
In an increasingly crowded wide receiver group, that versatility could help Smith see the field for the Longhorns in his freshman campaign. Smith will primarily compete in the slot, which has a bit more room with the Bru McCoy exit and Jordan Whittington’s transition to running back, but expect to see him all over the field, showing why he’s regarded as a Swiss Army knife on the field.
“A lot of the backfield stuff will be jet sweeps and just trying to get me the ball to the outside, but mainly I’ll play slot receiver and I think that’s where I’ll fit best,” Smith told Sports360AZ of how Texas intends to utilize his skill set. “I’ll also have my opportunities on the outside on one-on-ones, so I think they want to use me in a lot of different ways. Also, in the return game, I forgot about that, so they see me as a versatile player and they want to use me that way.”
Now, all that’s left for Smith is to live up to the billing and prove why 32 different universities wanted to secure his services. He’ll get his chance as the Longhorns open up fall camp in the coming weeks.