Eugene Cyril "Geno" Smith III (born October 10, 1990) is a quarterback for the New York Jets. He was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football for West Virginia University.
Smith was born in Miami, Florida and is the son of Geno Smith, Jr. and Tracey Sellers. His great-uncle Danny Smith was a record breaking All-American hurdler at Florida State University, and his cousin Melvin Bratton was a star running back at the University of Miami in the mid-1980s.
He was admitted to Norland Middle School's magnet program, which dedicated two hours a day to arts instruction. He would go on to attend Miramar High School where he was coached by former Mountaineer Damon Cogdell. As a junior he passed for 2,200 yards 25 touchdowns and three interceptions and was named Second Team All-State QB. He was also named Second Team All-Broward County as an athlete for 2007. Following his junior year he was invited to the prestigious Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in Aliso Viejo, California.
During Smith's senior season he led his team to the state 6A semi-finals and completed 205 of 338 passes for 3,089 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for over 300 yards. He was an All-State First Team in Florida Class 6A and a Parade All-American. He was also the No. 1 rated player in Broward County according to the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun Sentinel and finished No. 2 in the voting for Mr. Florida. He finished his career as the third-best passer in Broward County history, and was named to the ESPN Top 150 prospects list. He chose to attend West Virginia over offers from Florida State, South Florida, Boston College and Alabama.
Smith attended West Virginia University, where he played for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team from 2009 to 2012.
Smith saw some action his freshman year, being the backup behind senior Jarrett Brown. His first snap in a regular season game came against Auburn University; he completed 5 of 8 passes for 50 yards and one interception. He would see action again against Syracuse, Marshall, Louisville, and in the Gator Bowl against Florida State. In his freshman year at West Virginia University, Smith completed 32 of 49 passes for 309 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception, and rushing for 7 yards on 17 attempts as the backup to starting quarterback Brown. He finished his freshman season with an 81.1 quarterback rating.
2010 was Smith's first year as the starting quarterback. For the year, he completed 241 of 372 passes for 2763 yards, throwing 24 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and rushing for 217 yards on 106 attempts. He got his first start in the season opener against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He led his team to a 31-0 victory over the Chanticleers.
With the Mountaineers down 21-6 against in-state rival, Marshall University, Smith led his team to a 4th quarter comeback victory. Smith led the first drive from the WVU 4-yard line. With help from senior running back Noel Devine, the Mountaineers cut Marshall's lead to 8 points. After the WVU defense stopped Marshall, a punt put the Mountaineers near their own end zone again, starting from the 2-yard line. After completing 9 of 13 passes and scrambling for 20 yards, Smith found tight end Will Johnson in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown. With Marshall still leading 21-19, Bill Stewart elected to go for the two-point conversion. Smith completed a pass to wide receiver Jock Sanders in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion. The Mountaineers went on to win the game in overtime by a score of 24-21. Smith finished the game completing 32 of 45 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 13 yards on 14 attempts. After two games, Smith lead the Big East in passing yards and passing efficiency.
In a 31-17 victory over Maryland, Smith completed 19 of 29 pass attempts for 268 passing yards and four touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns were to Tavon Austin, and two were to Stedman Bailey. Smith won his first Big East Offensive Player of the Week for this performance. In WVU's first meeting ever with LSU, the Mountaineers lost at Tiger Stadium by a score of 20-14. Smith completed 14 of 29 pass attempts for 119 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He rushed for 10 yards on five attempts.
Smith threw for 220 yards and ran for 19 yards in West Virginia's 49-10 win over UNLV. It was the most points WVU had scored since playing Connecticut in 2007. In an overtime loss to Connecticut, Smith was 22 for 34, throwing for 160 yards. He had a season high of 64 rushing yards. This was the first game all season Smith did not throw a touchdown pass. The loss was the first time Connecticut had ever beaten West Virginia. Smith tied his record for touchdowns in a game in a 37-10 win over Cincinnati, where he was 15 for 25, throwing for 174 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. The win came after a two-game losing streak. It was the first time the Mountaineers beat Cincinnati since 2007. Smith won his second Big East Offensive Player of the Week for this performance.
Smith and the West Virginia offense lined up against Clemson's defense in the 2012 Orange Bowl. With the arrival of new WVU football head coach Dana Holgorsen and a new passing-based offensive system, Smith saw his passing numbers improve drastically. In the fourth game of the season against the #2 LSU Tigers, Smith set school records for completions (38), attempts (65) and passing yards (463) in the 47-21 loss on September 24.
With 372 passing yards against the Cincinnati Bearcats on November 12, Smith tied a Big East record with his seventh 300-yard game of the season. He tied the record that was set in 2007 by Brian Brohm of the Louisville Cardinals and set single-season school records for pass completions (291), attempts (448) and yards (3,741) on November 25 against rival Pitt Panthers. He broke the records that were held by Marc Bulger in 1998. In West Virginia's 70-33 rout of the Clemson Tigers at the 2012 Orange Bowl Smith tied three individual bowl records: most touchdown passes (six), most touchdowns overall (seven) and total points (42). Smith's 401 yards passing broke Tom Brady's Orange Bowl record of 396 that he set in 2000. Smith, who was also the game's MVP, also became the Big East single season passing leader with 4,379 yards breaking Brian Brohm's record that he set in 2007.
With his performance against the Marshall Thundering Herd (32–36, 323 yards, 4 TDs) on opening day, Smith became the school's all-time leader for career completions and touchdown passes, passing Marc Bulger's totals from 1996–1999. In Smith's game (34–39, 411 yards, 5 TDs) against James Madison (second game of the year), Smith became the all-time leader for career passing yards, passing Bulger's total of 8,191 yards.
Against Baylor in a 70–63 win, he threw for 656 yards and 8 TDs with 45 completions (all three Mountaineer records), and only six incompletions. In his final regular season game, Smith completed 23–of–24 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns in West Virginia's 59–10 victory against Kansas. He set the WVU consecutive pass completions record with 21, spanning the first fourth quarters, and broke the Big 12 record of 20 previously held by Missouri's Chase Daniel in 2008. Smith's completion percentage of 95.8 tied the NCAA record (min. 20 attempts) and also set a Conference mark.
As a Jet
On April 25, 2013, Smith was in attendance for the first round of the draft as many analysts and scouts expected him to be taken that night, however he was not selected; his counterpart, EJ Manuel, was the lone quarterback taken in the first round. Smith declined to be interviewed by ESPN and originally planned to return home but later decided to attend the second day of the draft. Several league executives alleged that Smith did not handle the draft process in a professional manner which caused him to fall out of the first round while analysts pointed to his late-season decline at West Virginia as the primary reason. The following day, the Jets expressed interest in trading up in the second round to select Smith but couldn't consummate a trade. Despite this, Smith remained available and the Jets selected him with the 39th overall pick. General manager John Idzik, following the selection, stated Smith would compete with incumbent Mark Sanchez to determine the starting quarterback.
After firing his agency, Select Sports Group, upon the completion of the draft, Smith sought out new representation. He opted to sign to Roc Nation Sports on May 22, 2013 with Kimberley Miale serving as his representative. Smith worked out in his home state of Florida during the offseason prompting questions as to whether or not he had spurned Sanchez, by not attending Sanchez's Jets West summer camp. Smith and Sanchez dismissed this notion with Sanchez saying it was 'no big deal.' Smith signed a four-year $5 million contract on July 22, 2013 with approximately $690,000 in workout bonuses.
Smith made his professional debut in the preseason on August 9, 2013 against the Detroit Lions, completing 6 of 7 passes for 47 yards but left the game due to an ankle injury in the second quarter. X-rays showed no structural damage and Smith returned to practice on August 11, 2013. Smith started the Jets' third preseason game against the New York Giants completing 16 of 30 passes for 199 yards, a touchdown and four turnovers.
Smith was named the team's starting quarterback on September 4, 2013. In his first regular season game, Smith completed 24 of his 38 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown to Kellen Winslow II. Smith also led the Jets with 47 yards rushing. His following start against the New England Patriots was less successful as he completed 15 of his 35 passes for 214 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, all in the fourth quarter. Smith had his first 300 yard passing day against Buffalo on September 22, 2013.