Potential Breakout Longhorns: Jake Smith

Chris Dukes

As we all wait patiently for the return of sports, we figured we could provide some optimistic news for Texas Longhorn fans by looking ahead to the players who are primed to break out in the 2020 season. 

In the first part of this series, we examine true sophomore receiver Jake Smith. 

Smith came to Texas with heavy hype after earning the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award in his senior year of high school. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound wide receiver quickly showed Texas fans what all the hype was about. Against Louisiana Tech Smith hauled in four passes for 31 yards. He followed that up with his first career touchdown - a 20-yard grab against eventual National Champion LSU. 

That momentum continued the next week with a career-high six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns against Rice. 

He caught a 17-yard touchdown in the season-opener against Oklahoma State and had three catches for 23 yards against West Virginia before he hit the dreaded "freshman wall". 

Over the Longhorns' next five games Smith caught just six passes for 50 yards and one touchdown including four games without a single grab. 

He would break through in the season finale with three catches for 51 yards against Texas Tech. 

Overall he finished the season with 25 catches for 274 yards and six touchdowns. 

Why he's ready to break out: Smith has quickly gone from the youngest player in the Texas receiver room to one of the most experienced. He'll also get plenty more chances to make plays with the graduation of Devin Duvernay. 

We all saw the heavy workload Duvernay shouldered last year as a senior, it's only natural to expect some of that will fall on Smith as a sophomore. 

There's also some reason to believe the Longhorns may be a little less rigid formation-wise under new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich the Longhorns. They may find ways to use Smith and fellow slot receiver Jordan Whittington on the field at the same time to put stress on defenses. 

Texas head coach Tom Herman expressed his happiness with Smith's progression during bowl preparation back in December. 

"I think he's kind of on the other side of the kind of freshman hump and really continuing to progress," Herman told reporters prior to the Longhorns' 38-10 Alamo Bowl win. 

Sharing time with Whittington in the slot, Smith probably won't duplicate Duvernay's gaudy numbers from 2019, but he'll definitely turn some heads so long as he stays healthy. 

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