Texas Tech football recruiting: 2020 QB commit Donovan Smith turning heads

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: A member of the Texas Tech Red Raiders waits on the field before the start of their game against the LSU Tigers during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: A member of the Texas Tech Red Raiders waits on the field before the start of their game against the LSU Tigers during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

Texas Tech football fans are growing more and more excited each week as 2020 QB commit Donovan Smith continues to impress in his first year as a starter.

Two-star recruits rarely garner much attention from fans.  But when the Texas Tech football team decided to take two-star QB Donovan Smith as its QB in the 2020 class, many Red Raider fans that follow recruiting closely were a bit puzzled, if not downright worried.

It wasn’t only the fact that the 6-foot-5 prospect was so lightly-ranked, it was that he had never been a starting QB at the high school level.  How could the Red Raiders know enough about Smith to hitch their wagon to such a wildcard of a prospect at the game’s most important position?

But we would soon find out that there was more to the story.  Smith is the son of current Texas Tech running backs coach DeAndre Smith, explaining perhaps why the coaches were so comfortable with their decision to offer him a scholarship as a QB rather than at wide receiver, where he played as a junior at Bishop Gorman H.S. in Las Vegas.

Gorman is one of the top programs in the nation and featured 3-star Penn State commit Micah Bowens as its signal-caller.  Thus Smith was forced to move to wide receiver last season to get on the field (though some observers of the Gorman program thought he could have given Bowens a run for his money in an open competition for the job).

But when the elder Smith came to Lubbock to join Matt Wells’ staff at Tech after having served as the RB coach at Utah State Donovan Smith came to West Texas where he enrolled at Frienship H.S. and immediately took over the QB position for a Tiger program that has unsuccessfully tried numerous options at the position in the last two years.

"“He has really been a breath of fresh air,” Frienship head coach Drew Northcutt told Randy Rosetta of HubCityPreps.com in August. “He has done exactly what you hope a kid coming in new at that position would do for you. He’s a very talented kid, but that’s only part of what he brings. He has brought a great work ethic and attitude and has been a good leader. The kids have taken to him well, and he has made it a priority to fit into our system.”"

Red Raider fans were skeptical about the program’s decision to rely on an unproven QB who had never started a game at the time he committed to the program as the centerpiece of what is a critical recruiting class.  With both Alan Bowman and true freshman QB Maverick McIvor both having suffered significant injuries in each of the past two years and Jett Duffey set to be a senior next fall, finding a quality player to supplement the program’s depth at QB is essential in this recruiting cycle and many fans wondered if it was wise to trust that Smith was the answer.

More from Wreck'Em Red

Fortunately, what we’ve seen from the Frienship QB in 2019 has been more than we could have expected.  After Friday’s 24-13 win over Odessa Permian, Smith has guided his team to a 7-2 record and a playoff birth just a year after the Tigers managed to win only three games.

Thus far, he’s passed for 2,593 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.  His completion percentage is an impressive 67.2% and his QB rating is north of 120.  On the ground, he’s racked up 333 yards on 70 carries with nine more scores.

"“I think Donovan adds the ability to go make plays with his legs when a play breaks down” Northcutt said. “…we like to call it being an eraser when we need it. He runs well, he has a very strong arm, he has football savvy and he has all the fundamentals. When you add his work ethic and leadership, he’s the kind of kid most people would want at quarterback, so the fit to our offense is very good.”"

At 325.1 combined yards per game, Smith is putting up more offense than another Texas Tech verbal commit, Behren Morton.  The junior 4-star prospect from Eastland, Texas is the No. 8 pro-style QB in the nation for 2021 according to Rivals.com.  Entering this weekend, Morton was averaging 275 yards of total offense per game while completing 62% of his passes.

In other words, Smith’s output has rivaled that of a 4-star prospect.  Thus, Tech’s 2020 QB signee may be more of a legitimate prospect than many of us thought when he committed to the Red Raiders in February.

Though he isn’t just a long-term project who might eventually move to wide receiver as was the prevailing thought among the fan base, there will still be time for Smith to develop when he steps on campus.  With Bowman, Duffey, and McIvor already in place, Smith likely will not be thrust into action in his first season, which will be great for his development and for Tech’s depth at the position.

Next. SaRodorick Thompson on pace for nice freshman season. dark

But as we’ve learned the hard way in the last two seasons when Tech has lost at least two QBs to injury in each campaign, you can never have too many good QBs on campus.  And after what we’ve seen out in Wolfforth this year, we can feel more confident in Donovan Smith’s ability to be the type of QB that can make an impact at the collegiate level.