Texas commit Jake Smith was named the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year on Tuesday.
The wide receiver/running back from Notre Dame Prep racked up 2,349 all-purpose yards and 39 total touchdowns this season.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen was at the Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.) to surprise him with the trophy.
Smith didn’t even know he had won.
“My parents kept it a great secret,” Smith said in a phone interview. “At first I thought it was the state trophy, so I didn’t know, I thought it was really cool that they did that for the state player of the year. But then I slowly realized Josh Rosen wouldn’t walk in if it was the state one.”
Rosen entered to raucous applause.
“It was a cool moment, I’m glad I was invited to be a part of this special moment for Jake,” Rosen said in a phone interview. “The secret was well-kept.”
With that, Smith became the first athlete from Arizona to win the award.
“(High school football) is huge here now,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a quarterback hot spot, and there’s a ton of kids getting recruited.”
Yet the player of the year hailing from Arizona was not a quarterback — it was a do-it-all threat who caught 64 passes for 1,112 yards and 22 touchdowns, rushed 741 yards and 15 scores on the ground and returned a pair of kickoffs to the house.
Smith also had 20 tackles and 4.5 sacks on defense.
“I’m a very versatile player, I can do a lot of things,” he said, adding that his quickness and top-end speed allows him to make twitchy movements that help him separate himself from defenders.
Over Smith’s career, he racked up 5,446 total yards and 72 touchdowns while leading his team to consecutive championship appearances. In his junior year, he received and rushed for 1,000 yards apiece and was a finalist for the Arizona Republic football player of the year award.
His favorite high school moment? Smith thought for a second.
“Does this count?” he asked. “If so, this.”
Rosen didn’t give the high school athlete much advice, but Smith said he was told to keep his head down and remain humble while working hard.
However, Rosen welcomed Smith to contact him with any questions if he needed advice.
“I think if I had any advice for someone in high school, it’d be just to sort of enjoy every day for what it is,” Rosen said. “Work your butt off every day, and don’t get caught really looking too far ahead because you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.”
He added that Smith needs to be himself at Texas.
“I wouldn’t fake it because at some point the gig is going to be up,” Rosen said. “Definitely, almost encourage him to make mistakes, because then you learn from them.”
In winning the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year award, Smith beat out the other two finalists, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and Dunham School (Baton Rouge, La.) DB/WR Derek Stingley Jr.
“It was just shocking for me, that’s the only way to describe it, it was an unreal feeling,” Smith said. “I knew I was a finalist but the other two players are phenomenal.
“Just being able to actually win it and actually see Josh Rosen walk in with the trophy was just like, you know, kind of like, ‘Woah. This is for real.'”