TEMPE , Ariz. – After a failed fourth-down attempt in the final quarter of the Class 5A Arizona state championship game, Jake Smith retreated to the sidelines and squatted amongst his teammates.
The do-it-all Texas commit’s high school career was coming to an end in the state title game for a second straight season and he knew it would leave a bad taste in his mouth.
What was the Notre Dame Prep wide receiver going to remember from his high school career before heading to Austin?
“Probably getting our ass kicked twice in the state championship,” Smith said.
Smith expects his career at Texas won’t end in similar disappointment. He certainly has the competitive fire Longhorns coach Tom Herman desires. His talent is on par, too.
The four-star became the first player from Arizona since 2011 to rush for 1,000 yards and record 1,000 receiving yards in the same season during a sparkling junior season.
The last player to do that in Arizona was Christian Kirk, who went on to an enjoy an uber-successful career at Texas A&M before being selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
Smith ranks as 247 Sports’ No. 75 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class and No. 2 prospect in Arizona. Only five-star Oklahoma quarterback commit Spencer Rattler is higher rated in the state. For the moment, though, Smith is more worried about getting Texas over the hump so they can be known as champions again instead of championship game losers.
“I’m not sad that my high school career is over,” Smith said. “I’m on to bigger and better things. I want to go (to Texas) and help them win a national title. That’s the goal.”
Despite the high recruiting ranking and continued productivity, Smith’s performance in the state title game is one he will want to forget. If anything, it left him motivated to start his college career on a better and stronger note how his high school career ended. He wasn’t targeted much and recorded just 42 receiving yards on six catches in Notre Dame’s 60-7 loss.
Smith’s style of play, centered around his versatility, works best when he’s consistently got the ball in his hands. It’s similar to that of Kirk and former Texas slot receivers like Jordan Shipley, who Smith met at Texas’ spring game earlier this year and played a part in his recruitment.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to prove myself on a national level and help Texas win games,” Smith said. “I’m just glad I’ll be able to have the chance to prove myself again.”
USC, who Smith was strongly considering before pledging to Texas in June, was in attendance at the state title game and spoke with Smith following the game.
Smith, who has racked up more than 30 offers, said he intends to sign in the early December signing period with the Longhorns. Earlier this year, Smith explained why he chose Texas over USC.
“I love California, but I hate Los Angeles,” he said. “I couldn’t envision myself living there.”
I fell in love with Austin on my trip to the spring game and then on my official visit in the summer. It’s got everything you want in a city, and it’s not overwhelming.”
When Smith signs in a few weeks, he won’t be able to enroll early like fellows early signees. Notre Dame requires more classes and credits than a typical high school, so he will have to stick it out in Scottsdale for a few more months. Smith admits he’s anxious to get to Austin and start his college career. He said in the meantime, he will focus on training and graduation.
“I’ve been ready for a while to go to Texas so I’m excited,” Smith said. “I’m just ready to get there and start this new chapter in my life.”