A QB Cal had been tracking for months has moved up the recruiting board considerably after a stellar Elite 11 performance a few weeks ago as 6-2/200 Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa) QB Jaxon Smolik won a prestigious Elite 11 final spot with an offer from the Bears.
“I thought I had done well at our regional top 11 and I thought I was going to get an invite, but in the end I didn’t,” Smolik said. “Then Nico (Lamaleava) backed off the day before and I got the call from Brian (Stumpf, a former Cal receiver who runs Elite 11 and Student Sports) and he asked if I could come over the next day, leaving at 6 a.m., and I said, ‘Yes, I’m coming out. I’m here.’
“It was a great experience. I’m so happy to have been invited. It not only helps my recruitment, but also my football leadership skills and stuff like that.
What were some of his greatest takeaways from the experience?
“Everyone had such good information,” Smolik said. “Even the players gave me such great insights into recruiting and the processes they went through. I learned about leadership, just being a better person overall, learning how to talk, learning how to do interviews live. I learned so much from that experience.”
During the process, the 3-star QB received positive feedback on several areas of his game.
“My arm strength was probably one of the most important things,” Smolik said. “How I behave with other players – not being pushy with anyone, footwork, demeanor, stuff like that. I feel like an excellent defense read. Obviously I haven’t played at the college level and I’ve seen how they change and disguise things, but right now in high school I feel like I’m at the top of my game.
Smolik played in four games his junior season after being injured in his opener, rushing for 965 yards, 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, completing 65.5 percent (76-116) in his limited season.
Even though the Bears recently offered, they had seen enough through scouting that his Elite 11 performance was just the deciding factor in verifying he was worthy of an offer. Smolik is currently committed to Tulane after a June 23 verbal.
“So I was kind of in touch with Cal before the Elite 11,” Smolik said. “Day one went really well and some people recommended me to come forward. I was in touch with Coach Cherrington, their Director of Player Personnel for some time, and then Coach Musgrave told me. called and decided to propose to me and just told me about the program and what they wanted from the quarterback.
“I studied the program a lot. I love it. It’s a great program at Cal with great coaches. I saw myself there but right now I’m committed to Tulane. I just want to visit Cal and check it out. I have never been to this area. I won’t be able to do it at the end of the month but will be out in September. It has to be after August because that’s the dead period.
“I really liked it in SoCal. I didn’t really get to see much there, but where the camp was at Redondo was really nice.
Interestingly enough, the Bears’ first QB offer -Pittsburg QB Jaden Rashada- did not finish in Elite 11 Finals, while Smolik and other Cal offered Chris Parson, a 6-1/200 QB from Brentwood, TN – also a disengaged Florida State – was in the final group.
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