IU football freshman WR Jaquez Smith using DK Metcalf’s work ethic as a guide

Jaquez Smith says he considers himself a miniature version of D.K. Metcalf. It’s a bit of an odd comparison to make, because the defining characteristic of the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver is his size. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds but he looks like something out of a comic book, and he can somehow run a 10.4 second 100-meter dash.

Smith is plenty fast and he showed big playmaking ability at Westlake High School in Georgia, but at 6-1, 200 pounds, he doesn’t draw comparisons to the All-Pro Metcalf.

However, what Smith admires most about Metcalf is not the talent he’s been blessed with, but the skills he’s developed through his work ethic. That, Smith said, is something he believes he and Metcalf have in common.

“DK is a working horse and I feel like I’m a working horse as well,” Smith said Thursday in a Zoom press conference with Indiana beat reporters. “Especially staying after practice, catching like 150 balls a day. Just sustaining that drive, just continuing to get better every single day.”

Smith, a four-star recruit and the eighth-highest rated Indiana recruit since the beginning of the scouting service era in 2000, knows he has a significant amount of hype to live up to and he knows that means working on the finer points of his game. He can’t expect to simply out-run and out-jump defenders at the Big Ten level. He needs to operate with precision, and that’s what he’s tried to do since he arrived on campus in Bloomington in June.

“At this point, it’s just staying on the route running,” Smith said. “I think that’s the main thing. Make sure I’m dropping my hips. Make sure I’m catching the ball and everything with my hands and eyes and make sure I’m finishing up hill.”

He’s also trying to make sure that by the time camp comes around in August that he already has a firm grasp of Indiana’s offensive playbook. He said he sets aside at least two hours a day to study it.

“The main thing is focusing on everybody’s position, not just staying on my position, staying on everybody else’s,” Smith said. “Make sure I know where to line up, how to line up, and just getting ready. It’s not difficult, but at the same time you have to learn it a lot faster because I came in the summer time and I didn’t have all the time these other guys (who arrived in the spring) have. … If you don’t know the playbook, you can’t play. That’s the main thing I stay on.”

And he is working on developing his body. He might not ever get to look like Metcalf, but he can maximize the gifts he does have.

“I’m just hitting different muscles I never have before in my lower body more than anything,” Smith said. “I’m a big upper body guy and I’ve worked flexibility more than anything. The weight room is the best thing in this facility. That’s what I can say.”

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