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Kenny Dillingham comments on NCAA declaring Jake Smith ineligible

© Rob Shumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham answered a question this morning at Camp T about the unfortunate NCAA ruling of WR Jake Smith being ineligible this season.

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(Video by Nick Borgia of Devils Digest)

Everything Dillingham had to say on the ruling:

“I think it’s ridiculous. To be honest. I think it’s a kid who’s an unbelievable kid who went through a lot. And college football is supposed to be about helping kids achieve their dreams, helping them become young men, and that’s very disappointing. I think this game helps Jake Smith. I think Jake Smith’s last six months here, growing and maturing as a young man who’s had a lot of ups and downs, and who was at a high in his life right now.”

“For him to have to face that when he’s on an upward trajectory is the opposite of what college athletics is supposed to be because it should be about helping the student athlete. And I think that decision is hurting our student athlete. And I think it’s not just hurting ours. I think there’s other kids around the country. And I understand there’s people that take advantage of rules and try to manipulate the system and poor taste, but at the same token, that’s part of life people are always gonna manipulate whatever rules you have. There’s nothing you can do about it. So you better do right to the people who are doing it right. And Jake Smith does it right.”

Here’s what Dillingham offered on all that Smith brings to the team:

“I mean, Jake’s explosive. Jake’s a really, really, really good football player and definitely affects the football team. But more importantly, Jake’s battled and battled  and been through so much in his football career, and to have something that means so much to him, taken away. After all the work he put in, it’s not the right thing to do for the kid. And everything we should do in college athletics should be about the kids, not the adults.”

Context on Smith being ineligible (From article yesterday)

Smith, who won the 2018-19 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year at Notre Dame Prep, started his collegiate career at Texas in 2019 before transferring to USC in 2021 after suffering a foot injury in spring practice.

He was declared a medical non-counter at USC after doctors decided he would be unable to continue his playing career at the school after the injury. So, Smith never played in a game for the Trojans and never received his undergraduate degree.

The NCAA has been cracking down on two-time transfers without degrees and not been giving eligibility to most of them, so Smith fell victim to this. Sophomore safety Xavion Alford who also had the career path of Texas to USC to ASU is facing this same danger.

The biggest name affected by this ruling is North Carolina WR Devontez Walker. He transferred to the school from Kent State to be near his ailing grandmother. Walker had already been named to the preseason all-ACC team before the ruling.

Smith’s dad has been voicing his opinion on the decision on X, as he states that this rule was not around when his son decided to transfer. Walker has also mentioned this in his appeal against being ineligible (no appeal yet from Smith).

A return home

Smith was looking to come back and make a big return to the state he once dominated.

As a senior in high school, Smith recorded 1,070 receiving yards and 741 yards rushing to go along with 39 total touchdowns. He also returned punts and kicks. He has been described as one of the best high school players in Arizona history.

In his freshman year at Texas, Smith recorded 25 catches for 274 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. In 2020, he accumulated 23 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns in seven games.

Since, he has not played in any college football games and still technically should have two years of eligibility left. The 2020 season does not count towards any player’s eligibility, and Smith redshirted and was a medical non-counter at USC.

This season will now make three straight years of Smith not appearing in any games, a highly disappointing figure for a talented player and someone who is ready to rejuvenate his career.

See more here:

NCAA denies ASU WR Jake Smith’s transfer waiver

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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau


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