After every spring practice, receiver Jared Smart runs a go route to the neighboring soccer field where he fields “passes” launched from the JUGS machine. With the sun at an unforgiving angle and the fatigue from a two-hour practice, it is a challenging time for Smart to work on his focus and receiving skills.
“You have to put in the extra work,” Smart said. “That’s the path my dad took. I try to do the same things he did. I try to put in the extra work.”
Smart’s father knows about parting shots. Keith Smart launched the winning shot with four seconds left to lift Indiana to a 74-73 victory over Syracuse in the 1987 NCAA championship basketball game.
Jerry Kramer made “The Block.” Dwight Clark made “The Catch.” In college basketball lore, Keith Smart made “The Shot.”
“The Shot” was launched years before Jared Smart was born. But he has watched YouTube clips of it. “When we went to Indiana to visit, a lot of people came up to him,” Smart recalled. “He’s a big figure up there.”
The elder Smart’s advice was for his son to follow his own path. Jared Smart loved playing basketball, but he loved playing football more.
He was an academic qualifier as a high school senior, but received only one offer, from Stetson, an FCS school in Florida. He opted to attend Laney College to improve his game and physique.
As a Laney freshman, 6-foot Smart weighed 165 pounds. He was 180 last year, when Laney switched from a spread to a passing offense. He caught 53 passes for 634 yards while also catching the attention of the UH coaches. Laney head coach John Beam’s endorsement was significant. Beam was Davone Bess‘ head coach at Skyline High.
Smart enrolled at UH in January, and already has demonstrated speed and the ability to decipher coverages. He now weighs 188. Keith Smart, by the way, is an assistant coach with the New York Knicks.