Jake Smith back home in Arizona, ready to contribute to ASU football

Aug 1, 2023, 6:15 AM | Updated: Aug 2, 2023, 9:45 am

Jake Smith...

Wide receiver Jake Smith (#7) transferred to Arizona State after spending time at Texas and USC. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Jake Smith grew up going to Arizona State football games at Sun Devil Stadium.

The ASU wide receiver’s favorite Sun Devil was former standout pass catcher N’Keal Harry.

Despite being from Scottsdale, the Notre Dame Prep alumnus initially went to Texas to begin his college football career. In two seasons with the Longhorns in 2019 and 2020, Smith caught 49 passes for 568 yards and nine touchdowns.

After his time at Texas, Smith moved on to USC. He never appeared in a game there as he fractured his right foot, needing multiple surgeries.

“A lot of rehab,” Smith said. “A lot of training room. A lot of ankle mobility stuff. The foot itself is solid but in terms of my ankle and the ligaments around my foot and my ankle, they’re all good now but it took a little while to get those back in shape.”

Last December, Smith transferred back home to play for new head coach Kenny Dillingham and Arizona State.

“My parents are only 20 minutes down the road,” Smith said. “It’s great to have them — a support system like home. It’s great to be around this coaching staff and they’ve been great throughout this whole process. So it’s very comfortable. Very great to be home.”

Smith talked about how it took some time for him to get his speed, strength and route running back, praising the weight training staff at ASU for helping him.

Transferring to a new school means a new coaching staff for a player. One of the coaches Smith is around most is wide receivers coach Ra’Shaad Samples.

“Coach Samples can balance being one of the guys but also our coach,” Smith said. “And I think that’s a big thing. When he needs to be a coach, he’s going to be a coach. But when he needs to be a friend to his players, he can do that as well. And he’s just a great guy and a great guy that we’ve loved having around.”

Dillingham had great things to say about Smith and what he can provide ASU this season. He praised his versatility, catch ability and speed. He also said Smith is a player they could hand the ball off to if they felt like it.

Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin echoed the Sun Devils’ head coach when talking about Smith.

“Just really excited,” Baldwin said. “Obviously, he’s versatile. He’s got a lot of speed. He’s got a lot of ability after the catch too. So he’s one of those guys who can go inside or outside for you. So I’m excited about that. … Love coaching him.”

As for what he wants to accomplish in 2023, Smith said he wants to win.

“I think a successful 2023 for me would just be a successful season as a team,” Smith said. “I’m not sure exactly what that means but having fun and winning some games and having a great year.”

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