Indiana football added a commitment to its 2021 recruiting class when four-star Atlanta wide receiver Jaquez Smith chose the Hoosiers over offers from Alabama, Michigan and LSU, among others.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Smith is the 31st-ranked receiver and the No. 173 player in the country, per 247sports.com. He is the highest-ranked recruit the Hoosiers have gotten a commitment from since Stephen Williams in 2000, passing Avon running back Sampson James for that honor.
Of the top 11 recruits to commit to the Hoosiers since 2000, per 24/7 Sports, six of them (Smith, James, Beau Robbins, Cameron Williams and Donaven McCulley and Rashawn Williams) have come in the 2019, 2020 or 2021 classes.
Tom Allen's first two recruiting classes (2017 and 2018) combined to have zero four-star recruits. In 2019, Allen brought in three recruits at that level, then another in 2020 and so far two more in the 2021 class. His message of being part of a program on the rise seems to be sinking in, even with recruits like Smith, who have offers from programs with far longer histories of success. Getting an offer from Alabama and choosing Indiana instead probably means the coach is doing something right in that recruitment (and that should include co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Grant Heard, who took the leading on landing Smith).
Smith is the 14th commit in Indiana's class, which ranks 52nd nationally. Although the ranking is lower than 2019 (36th), the highest-ranked class in IU history, the 2021 class is intentionally smaller because Indiana doesn't have a large number of roster spots open. The average player rating for Indiana's 2021 class is actually better than it was in 2019 and is the highest ever for an IU class.
Smith has garnered praise from national recruiting services. Here is what 24/7's national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman had to say in his scouting report on the Atlanta wideout: "Trusty receiver with good size and range, strong hands and crisp route running. Able to get yards after contact, difficult to press and superb play strength to catch passes. Good body control and ability to adjust to throws, make the catch, then cut and go. Not a true burner but gets consistent separation. Projects as multi-year Power 5 starter and third-day NFL draft selection."
This might also be a signal to other recruits in Indiana's class and those the Hoosiers are still pursuing that the cancellation of the Big Ten season hasn't broken Indiana's recruiting momentum. With the potential for another successful season in 2020 taken away, the cancellation was a tough break for Indiana especially, but it doesn't have to be the end of their upward climb.