The Patriots surprised many by not taking a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they improved their depth at the position by reportedly signing Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke as undrafted free agents.
Smith and Lewerke will join second-year QB Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer.
Here are four things to know about Smith, a 6-foot-1-inch, 218-pound college standout who throws with his right hand.
BLESSED and THANKFUL for the opportunity!! MOTIVATED and HUMBLE! Let’s get it!!! @patriots
— JMar C. Smith (@JMarSmith8) April 26, 2020
His father, Kenny, was a member of the Patriots.
Kenny Smith never played in a game for the Patriots, but he was a member of the team in the 2000s as a defensive lineman.
He appeared in 36 games throughout his NFL career, posting 71 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Fun fact: New Patriots UDFA QB J'Mar Smith is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Kenny Smith, who was with the Patriots (but didn't play) for part of 2007 and all of 2008 pic.twitter.com/Apc7KoOcW3
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 26, 2020
The San Diego Padres drafted Smith in 2015.
Smith was also a baseball star growing up. The San Diego Padres chose him in the 24th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but he elected not to sign out of high school.
Perfect Game describes him as a “very high ceiling player” with a “big power bat,” and he was rated the No. 2 overall prospect in Mississippi. He moonlighted on the baseball team at Louisiana Tech as a redshirt freshman in 2017 while also playing football.
He appeared in eight games that season, registering one hit and scoring three runs.
He steadily improved throughout his college football career.
Despite his ability as a baseball player, football became Smith’s sole area of expertise as his college career progressed.
As a redshirt freshman, he played in seven games, accounting for two touchdowns in the air and two on the ground.
The next year, Smith became the clear-cut starter, and he threw 16 TD passes compared to five interceptions. As a redshirt junior he racked up 3,160 yards, and as a redshirt senior he tossed 18 TD passes.
The Bulldogs went 9-5 in 2016, 7-6 in 2017, 8-5 in 2018, and 10-3 in 2019 (including 10-1 in his starts), winning a bowl game all four years he was there. He was named Conference-USA Offensive Player of the Year this past season.
He was suspended for two games his senior year.
In what was otherwise a rosy senior year, Smith missed Louisiana Tech’s final two regular-season games after he was suspended for a reason that hasn’t been made public.
The Bulldogs had a chance to seize a New Year’s Six Bowl Game, but the end of their season took a turn for the worse when Smith was sidelined. He said his teammates, and others around him, were hurt by his decisions, and he “felt the worst” of anyone.
“I made a mistake at the end of the year, and I’ve grown from it. I’ve learned from it,” Smith said at the time. “My circle has gotten smaller in trying to trust the people that’s been there for me the whole way.”