By: Brendan C. Hall, USA TODAY High School Sports | September 24, 2018
A year ago around this time, Jake Smith was like a lot of hopeful high school recruits, agonizing as he scrolled through his social media timelines and watched the scholarship offers pour in for his peers around the Phoenix area, wondering if he’d ever get the notice he deserved.
And then, like one of those ankle-breaking post-corner routes the Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.) star has become legendary for, everything changed in an instant.
In this 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown off a counter screen, in a win last year over Shadow Ridge (Surprise, Ariz.), Smith takes a straight-line sprint up the left sideline and burns by four defenders pursuing from angles.
Vanderbilt was the first to offer, followed by a horde of others, almost all of them pointing to that play as the one that cemented his potential – and his special wheels.
So when the University of Texas-bound Smith reflects on his overnight sensation, he means it when he says he never imagined being named among the best in the country at his position.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” Smith said prior to a presentation at his school Monday morning, where he was given a jersey that officially cemented him as an Under Armour All-American. “Being an All-American is something I never thought was a possibility, so it’s really awesome for me.
“Before my junior year, I wasn’t being recruited at all. I always saw the Under Armour All-Ameircan game, and people getting offers on Twitter, and it seemed too big for me. I had no attention. Then after my junior year, everything blew up. It was kind of a shock to me, because I’d never had any attention before, you know?”
Blessed with sub-4.4 speed, the 6-foot, 185-pound Smith is one of the country’s most unique talents, if not one of its most dangerous on the perimeter. He was coming off virtuous 2017 season in which he was the first Arizonan to amass 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving since former ALL-USA wideout and Arizona Cardinals rookie Christian Kirk did it in 2013 for Scottsdale Saguaro.
Smith wants to do it again, and wants to set the Arizona 5A single-season touchdown mark for a non-quarterback, which currently sits at 41. Through six games, he’s well on his way for the undefeated Saints, with 24 total touchdowns (13 receiving, 10 rushing, 1 return), 516 rushing yards and 548 receiving yards.
And if he has any more games like these, there’s no telling what his limits are in 2018.
The Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for Jan. 3 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. and will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.
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