It was a long, strange trip to get to this point, but the Boise State football team has addressed the glaring need of its 2018 recruiting class.
The Broncos received a verbal commitment Thursday morning from Bartram Trail High (Jacksonville, Fla.) quarterback Riley Smith. He can sign Feb. 7. Smith wanted to be patient with his recruiting, and it heated up in recent weeks.
“I’m very happy with how the process went,” Smith said. “What stood out about Boise State was definitely the atmosphere. I can tell there’s no better place to play, and that gets me fired up. All the coaches, players, they seemed like good guys.”
Splitting time throughout high school with Auburn signee Joey Gatewood, Smith threw for 1,495 yards (63.9 completion percentage) with 18 touchdowns to seven interceptions as a senior. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Smith also ran for 633 yards. He said Gatewood was one of the first people to call him after he committed, FaceTiming him from Auburn, where he is an early enrollee.
Boise State had planned to sign a high school quarterback in December’s early signing period but lost longtime commitment Zach Wilson a week before the period began (Wilson signed with BYU). That kicked off a search to find an underrated gem, and the focus landed on Smith and Arizona quarterback Brock Purdy.
“Brock and I actually talked quite a bit, we were in the same boat, the whole thing got a little stressful for us both,” Smith said.
Purdy visited Boise State the weekend of Jan. 12-14, and Smith came the following weekend. Purdy has picked up offers from Alabama and Illinois since, with Smith reporting one from Pittsburgh on Wednesday. With Purdy visiting UCF and Alabama this week, the Broncos put the full-court press on Smith, as coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Zak Hill went to his home in Florida on Wednesday night.
Smith told them he was committing but wanted to call the other coaches recruiting him before making the decision public. He said he knew Boise State “felt like home” after his visit but wanted to discuss his situation with his family.
He enjoyed the Broncos’ coaches reaction to his commitment.
“They were pumped, they were fired up about it,” Smith said. “Zak was fist-pumping, it was really cool. I felt very blessed to have them come out and be able to tell them in person.”
Rice, Western Kentucky, Tulane and Ivy League schools also offered Smith, who picked up his Boise State offer Jan. 4.
“Riley is a great football player and an even better young man,” Bartram Trail coach Darrell Sutherland said.
Smith, whose father grew up in Boise, will try to buck the trend of late-addition quarterbacks for Boise State. The last two who committed in January, Alex Ogle and Jake Constantine, transferred after one and two seasons, respectively.
The Broncos also added junior college quarterback Jaylon Henderson in the December signing period, and he is already on campus. Smith will join Henderson, redshirt freshman Chase Cord and senior Brett Rypien as the Broncos’ scholarship quarterbacks in fall camp.
“I’ll be out there in early June or July, and I’m excited to learn as much as I can from Brett,” Smith said. “It’s a big-time opportunity, probably get a redshirt year to learn and compete to start in 2019.”