Kenny Dillingham on NCAA’s Decision to Deny Jake Smith’s Eligibility Waiver

The Sun Devils will be without wide receiver Jake Smith for the 2023 season. The 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year transferred to the Sun Devils this offseason. He started his college career at Texas, where he caught 48 passes 568 yards and nine touchdowns over the 2019 & 2020 seasons. 

In 2021, he transferred to USC but was a medical non-counter due to an injury, meaning he would not count toward the scholarship total and USC team doctors did not clear him. After attending USC as a student in 2022, he transferred to Arizona State in January 2023. Because he had not received a degree but had transferred twice, he would need a waiver from the NCAA to be deemed eligible. 

On Thursday, it was reported that waiver was denied, even though he would have had to transfer a second time to attempt to take the field again. 

“I think it’s ridiculous to be honest,” ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham said of the decision on Friday. “I think it’s a kid who’s an unbelievable kid who went through a lot, and college football is supposed to help kids achieve their dreams, helping them become young men. That’s very disappointing. I think this game helps Jake Smith. I think Jake Smith’s last six months here growing and maturing into a young man who’s had a lot of ups and downs who is on a high in his life right now.”

Smith could have two more years of eligibility despite starting his college career in 2019 because 2020 did not count toward any athlete’s eligiblity and his time at USC was deemed a non-counter.