Mankato West WR Jalen Smith makes commitment to play Power Five football

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 8:15 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Wide receiver Jalen Smith is the first Mankato West football recruit to go to a Power Five school since quarterback Philip Nelson in 2012. Like Nelson, Smith will suit up for the Minnesota Gophers as part of the 2024 class.

“The cities gets a lot of attention when it comes to the teams and in the cities it’s a lot of 6A, 5A schools, so southern Minnesota I think sometimes gets overlooked and that’s one thing we take pride in here at Mankato West is to make sure that we keep southern Minnesota on the map,” Mankato West head coach JJ Helget said.

The three-star recruit had offers on the table from Iowa State, Kent State and North Dakota State before deciding Minnesota would be the best landing spot for development at his position and to stay close to his tight-knit family.

“To try to be the best and get better, you want to get taught by people that were the best or are the best at what they do,” Smith said. “And, obviously getting to the NFL is probably the biggest goal for any guy that plays football, so the conversations I had with Coach PJ Fleck and Coach Matt Simon about how they can develop me and some of the comparisons they made put into perspective just how much I can be developed there especially by some of the guys that have done it at the highest level and know what it takes to be the best at the position.”

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound target had 49 receptions for 729 yards and eight touchdowns for the Scarlets last season and *really captured national attention when he ran a 10.87 in the 100-meter dash in April.

“After he ran that 10.87, I think my phone was going off the hook daily, emails and everything,” added Helget. “It’s exciting for him. He’s earned it, he’s earned everything. This off season, he had a great off season. He was in the weight room 3 times a week, pushing himself and I think he’d be the first one to say that has transcended him into this opportunity and it’s great for the youth to see around here that hard work does pay off.”

Smith continues to unlock new potential with every opportunity that comes his way. Right now, the junior is locked in on the track and field postseason.