Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Hometown/High School: West Des Moines, IA (Dowling Catholic)
Ranking: ★★★ (0.8652 247Sports Composite)
Notable Offers: Cal and Tulane
Smolik’s recruitment is an interesting one because as a sophomore at Dowling Catholic, he was a part of a QB rotation so he never put up gaudy stats. When he got the chance to be the full-time starter as a junior, he lost a good chunk of the season due to a collarbone injury in Week 1. He did come back and finish the season, but only played five games which really put him behind the eight-ball when it comes to recruiting.
Smolik eventually committed to Tulane, but he hit the camp scene in the process, impressing enough to land a last-second invite to the Elite 11 Final out in California. Competing against 20 of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Smolik more than held his own, finishing No. 8 according to Sports Illustrated — higher than Alabama commit Eli Holstein, Miami commit Jaden Rashida, and Florida commit Marcus Stokes. Here’s what SI had to say:
A virtual unknown entering the camp who only made his way to Los Angeles due to a finalist dropping out, Smolik immediately earned recognition for his fight in the first day’s rail shot competition. He followed that showing with an outstanding seven money throws to open up his pro day session, while his four money passes in the gauntlet were tied for highest in the workout with five other quarterbacks. It’s safe to say Smolik isn’t an unknown any longer.
With Penn State losing Marcus Stokes to Florida just a few days later, the Nittany Lions quickly turned their attention to Smolik. They had him come to Happy Valley for a visit and work out in front of James Franklin and Mike Yurcich, where Smolik walked away with an offer. From there, it seemed like just a matter of time before Smolik flipped to the Nittany Lions. He officially decommitted from Tulane yesterday, and made the call for Penn State earlier today.
Penn State was put in a tough spot with Stokes decommitting so late in the process. Yes, these guys haven’t even had their senior season yet but with the way quarterback recruiting is sped up, 90% of the Power 5 level QBs are committed somewhere at this point. So the Nittany Lions were lucky in a sense that Smolik stayed under the radar, and coincidentally popped just as they had a need at quarterback.
Smolik is not going to “wow” anyone as far as his measurables go. He’s just 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and he doesn’t have Drew Allar-level arm strength. But from what was shown at the Elite 11, he’s really accurate, understands some of the finer points of being a QB already, and the kid competes. He was placed into an extremely competitive environment, none of the other QBs really even knew who he was, and he finished in the top half. That takes some...moxie.
I mentioned this last year in our Drew Allar “Meet The Class” write up, but so much of being a quarterback is about processing information at a lightning quick pace. Like you can have the strongest arm or the smoothest release, but if you aren’t understanding and seeing what is going on with the defense, you are going to be extremely limited. The difficult part? That’s something that is really hard to measure at the high school level, and why QB recruiting continues to be such a conundrum across college programs.