Quarterback evaluators want to know: Can he make all the throws? Of course, how well and consistently a quarterback lives up to that statement is what matters.
Te’Sean Smoot wants that label and is working to earn it in the eyes of college football coaches. That’s why on every decent spring day he’s been on the football field at Springfield High School – often after track practice – with a group of his receivers working on “all the throws.”
“Day in and day out he wants to get better,” said Smoot’s father Conley Smoot, the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator. “You don’t have to force him to work out.”
On a recent day, Te’Sean Smoot stood in the middle of the field with two receivers to one side and three to the other. He stood ready with the ball in his hands, spinning it in the air to mimic the snap. He dropped back and receivers took turns running multiple routes so Smoot could work on “all the throws.”
Smoot is preparing for his senior season, third year as the Wildcats’ starter and for college. He has 19 offers, mostly from the Mid-American Conference, Conference USA, the Ivy League and all three service academies. But he’s hoping for more offers like the one he has from Kentucky.
The next big thing, though, for Smoot is Saturday’s Elite 11 regional competition near Indianapolis. He will be one of about 60 at the camp. For five hours he will be tested and instructed by top quarterback coaches and mentors.
“Just being able to go up to the Elite 11 camp, show off my talents and show them live how good I can throw, my accuracy, my deep ball,” he said. “Show them that I can make every throw and deliver a good, tight ball.”
Elite 11 holds eight regional camps. The best prospects – usually about 20-25 – will be selected to compete in the national finals this summer. Ohio State freshman CJ Stroud was the finals MVP in 2019.
“It’s my goal to go up there and perform well and be able to be one of the guys that’s picked to go onto the next level and get to the final stage and compete with the greatest guys in the nation,” Smoot said.
Recruiting is slower this year because the NCAA extended the dead period to May 31 due to COVID-19. College coaches can call, text and Zoom with players. But they can’t meet with them, even if the player visits campus.
Smoot is listed as a three-star in the five-star recruiting system. In the recently updated 24/7 Sports composite rankings for the 2022 class, Smoot is rated as the No. 21 dual-threat QB in the nation and the fourth overall QB in Ohio. He is the No. 32 player overall in Ohio and No. 896 in the nation.
Credit: David Jablonski
Credit: David Jablonski
“Once you go up to the next level stars don’t really matter,” he said. “It’s just about productivity and how you can help out the team the most.”
Smoot led Springfield to the Division I state semifinals last year, throwing for 2,269 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushing for 603 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games. He’s 6-foot and 170 pounds. The height thing, just like rankings, follows Smoot.
“It gets brought up, but I counter that with my play style being able to run but still being able to sit in the pocket and make every throw, be able to get out on the run and make a throw,” he said. “I don’t really think it’s a problem.”
Smoot hasn’t been the only quarterback getting attention the past couple years in the Greater Western Ohio Conference. Class of ’21 three-star prospects Cam Fancher from Wayne and Cade Rice from Northmont will play in college next year. Fancher is going to Marshall and Rice to FCS power South Dakota State. Chase Harrison, a class of ’22 three-star from Centerville, has committed to Marshall. He’s the No. 20 player in Ohio and the state’s second-highest rated QB.
“I believe I can go and play the same level as them because I think my game matches up just as much as them when it comes to passing,” Smoot said. “I feel like I can make the same amount of throws and accuracy is just the same.”
Smoot completed 59.2% of his passes last year, up from 53.6% as a sophomore. He will be taking teammates Anthony Brown, a rising wide receiver prospect in the 2023 class, and Shawn Thigpen with him as his pass catchers to Elite 11.
After last year’s camp was canceled, the quarterbacks were given a virtual program to follow that included receiver routes not common to high school, including various hitches and slants. Another is the downfield rail shot.
“It’s taking a three-step drop and driving it in there before the safety can open up and get out to it,” Smoot said. “These are throws I’ve made in games, but not necessarily from the playbook.”
Saturday those will be the throws that can make a difference.