Mandarin wide receiver Jaylen Smith is the latest northeast Florida prospect to make his college intentions known. Late last week Smith announced his commitment to Bowling Green.
He talked with 1010XL about his commitment.
“When I first got the offer, the coaches there thought very highly of me,” Smith told 1010XL. “They believed that I can come in and help kick start the program and get back to the old Bowling Green that it used to be. I talk to the coaches, including the head coach, Scot Loeffler, and they treat me like I’m one of their own. They have a good relationship with me and my parents.
“I feel like I fit their scheme and they said they want to get the ball in my hands any type of way, whether it be on jet sweeps, long passes, short passes. They said I can fit anywhere in their offense.”
Smith now joins Trinity Christian quarterback Jacory Jordan has local prospects committed to the 2021 Bowling Green recruiting class. Smith was asked how Jordan’s decision to attend Bowling Green affected his.
“It weighed on my mind a lot because he’s another Duval guy and a great quarterback,” he said. “I feel like when we go up there we will have that great connection as soon as we get up there. So it did play a good factor.”
The past two seasons at Mandarin, Smith was catching balls thrown by Carson Beck, who is now at the University of Georgia. He talked about playing with Beck.
“Playing with Carson Beck was fun and he is a smart guy,” Smith said. “He makes everything fun from practice to the games. If you’re down he’s going to tell you to keep your head up. He’s a great guy, a great quarterback and a great leader.
“He told me not to rush when it comes to committing. He told me not to worry about the big names because wherever feels like home and wherever feels like you can fit in, just do that.”
There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on high school programs throughout the country. No spring practice and no on campus classes has made it tough for teams all over the nation.
Smith talked about how he and his teammates are doing what they can to get ready for the upcoming season.
“The receiving core and quarterbacks meet up at a park nearby and we have been throwing and working out,” he said. “We all have also been lifting at home and the defense is doing the same thing. We all have been on the same program, just lifting, working out, staying in shape and getting strong.”
Finally, Smith was asked if there is any pressure on him to keep Mandarin among the top programs in northeast Florida now that Beck and so many contributors from their 2018 state title team have moved onto college.
“When we won state I was a sophomore and I was behind DeMario Douglas, Darian Oxendine and Kris Mitchell and everybody was looking at me like, ‘you’re now the guy, you’re the next man up,’” Smith said. “So now they are looking to me to lead my team back to state because it’s my year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure, but I do feel like I have a lot to prove. A lot of people think we are not going to make it because Carson is gone and we don’t have the same wide receiving core we had during our state run, but I feel like me and my team has a lot to prove this year.”
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)