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Harrison Smith goes 29th overall to Minnesota Vikings

Apr 27, 2012, 12:27 AM EDT

Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

After a first round drought in the NFL Draft, the Irish had two players selected in the first round, with Harrison Smith joining Michael Floyd as first round draft picks. The Irish safety was selected 29th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, who traded up to take Smith. He was the second safety selected in the draft.

“Harrison Smith is one of the best leaders I’ve ever had on any of my teams,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “He is an intelligent and instinctual player on the field and a true student of the game off the field. He’ll be a great fit for Minnesota’s defense and I can’t wait to watch his long and successful pro career.”

Smith joins a Vikings team filled with Notre Dame players, joining 2011 second round pick Kyle Rudolph, as well as former Irish center John Sullivan and tight end John Carlson. He’ll be counted on to play immediately in a Vikings secondary picked apart last season, and facing quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers six times a year.

Smith’s selection in the first round concludes a triumphant finish to a career that had him entrenched in many Irish fan’s doghouses. After redshirting his freshman season, Smith was bounced between outside linebacker and safety under head coach Charlie Weis, and one of the most maligned players on an underachieving Irish defense.

Brian Kelly never wavered about Smith as a player, pairing him with safeties coach Chuck Martin and turning him into an All-American caliber player. The heart of the Irish secondary for the past two seasons, Smith’s athleticism finally matched up with his football smarts, and his on-the-field potential was finally unleashed.

Smith is the highest drafted defensive player since Renaldo Wynn went 21st in 1997. Jeff Burris was the last defensive back selected as high as Smith when he went 27th in 1994 to the Buffalo Bills.

  1. mtflsmitty - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    Someone commented last week that BK does not develop players. I was not following “The Harrison Smith” saga as described above under CW. But Keith certainly suggests that BK and CM found a way to unleash Smith’s potential. Seems like quality player development.

    Also seems like the decisions BK and the university made on Floyd worked out as well. They clearly benefitted from Floyd playing his senior year. But NFL teams are pretty good at smelling a rat. During extensive interviews PHX must have become convinced that Floyd had grown up and and would be a credit to their team. Kudos to BK to developing Floyd, the man.

    • papadec - Apr 27, 2012 at 4:23 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised to find out parents of recruits would also take note – perhaps as Mrs. Lynch did? It only bodes well for future recruiting.

    • nudeman - Apr 27, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      Hate to pick a nit, but it is Friday, so what the hell …

      I don’t think you can credit BK specifically for Smith’s development. If you want to credit Diaco, fine. The jury is still out on BK’s developmental abilities. He’s supposed to be an offensive guy and there is no position on this roster that is more in need of development than QB.

      Yet …
      Golson can’t even figure out what play is being signaled in and still relies on natural talent.
      Hendrix looks like the same guy of a year ago, throwing right into coverage and lacking vision.
      And despite all the Spring reports of Rees looking beefed up, stronger and better, Rees 2.0 looks an awful lot like Rees 1.0.

      Congratulations to Smith, he of zero INTs in 2011. I hope he lives up to the 1st round hype now.

      • bernhtp - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        Smith is a great athlete, a great leader, and a great student of the game. I saw that on the field for the past two years, as did pro scouts, and its hard not to give credit to Kelly and the staff he hired to turn around a kid and situation that previously underachieved expectations.

        Unlike your other posts that posited a strong bias toward Rees, I think, as do others (see Prister’s recent podcast), that Kelly clearly sees the deficiencies and limitations of Rees and he is hoping for someone else to step up. He desperately wants the others to take the job, but he won’t just hand it to them unless they put in the effort to win it. Golson still has a ways to go despite some amazing displays of ability, but failing to understand play signals does not constitute the “paying attention to detail” message that Kelly gives over and over. He will give Hendrix and Golson every opportunity in the world to win the job; I believe this is what he really wants. I stand by my prediction that Rees does not get the majority of the snaps in Dublin.

      • nudeman - Apr 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        I heard the podcast and was encouraged to hear Sampson say so emphatically “NO-O” to the question “Do you think BK wants Rees to start?”.

        HOWEVER … they also said they think Rees will start in Dublin, and “when ND gets up 10-0” (as if that’s automatic) EG will come in. But, what we’ve seen in the past when AH was the heir apparent was this: He’d come in, get a series or two, then Rees would trot back out and get 6 of the next 7 series. And the next week AH would get ZERO series, even though the game wasn’t close.

        So there is no logic here. I still think BK has an inexplicable fixation with the paperboy and despite all his deficiencies has reached a comfort level there. Like the “devil you know” thing. Seriously, time to move on. Bite the bullet, cancel the newspaper subscription. Paperboy has thrown it in the bushes too many times.

      • dmac4real - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        This is unbeleivable nude. Your posts are typically educated and have some worths….this one not so much.

      • bernhtp - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        Nude: there is clear logic. What Sampson is saying is that he guesses neither Hendrix nor Golson progress sufficiently to outright win the job by the end of summer, but because Kelly understands Rees’ limitations, he still wants to put them in as quickly as he can to develop them more quickly. This is the exact opposite of the pro-Rees bias you are alleging.

      • nudeman - Apr 27, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        I completely understand what Sampson/Priester are saying.
        And frankly they’re probably correct: Rees will start

        The logic breaks down when you get to BK’s reasoning. I’m sick of the paperboy and don’t know how the hell EG or AH is supposed to get any better when they don’t play.

        If EG is having trouble understanding the signals, THEN SLIM DOWN THE DAMN PLAYBOOK FOR HIM. Does anybody really think they need all 1400 pages of the playbook to beat Navy and Purdue?

        I like BK; great recruiter and great pedigree. But after how badly he screwed things up last year by chasing away Dayne Crist, if he starts paperboy then I swear I’ll picket ND Stadium with signs demanding his firing.

  2. 1historian - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    it takes a wit to pick a nit (yuck yuck)

    • fentocamarillo - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      A couple of brief points from a relatively casual observer.

      First and the most obvious. It is great to see 2 Domers in the first round. Likely indicative of BK’s ability to develop players into All American’s as well as the patience required to do so, even though not real comfortable using BK and patience in the same sentence.

      Second, exactly how does this posting morph itself from a congratulatory story about HS to a bashing of TR? I have been trying to connect the dots, but at a loss as to how exactly that came about. “Obsession” comes to mind and all that comes with it…..

      Go Irish!

  3. irish4006 - Apr 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Another casual observation – both picks are mature players with 4 or 5 years of college football under their belt, which must have helped with their stock (not sure about MF, but pretty sure HS’s final season helped him get to the 1st round). Andrew Luck would likely be a top 5 pick if he declared last year, but he decided to come back for the 4th, even after his coach left the program. I hope kids are taking notes, these days the draft seems to take a lot more into consideration than it used to in the past. Kyle Rudolph, Jimmy Clausen would probably have gone higher (and done better) after 4th year; Walker would probably be drafted had he stuck around for the Senior year. The sample size is small to draw conclusions, but it seems that more and more players are benefitting from sticking around.

  4. jcarrillo7828 - Apr 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Not a Vikings fan but I will gladly be watching Vikings games this year. Same goes for Arizona Cardinals. Wait a minute…Giants too. Oh yeah Packers, Patriots, etc…… I see a trend here :). Oh where oh where will Eifert and Teo go next year?

  5. bearcatirishfan - Apr 27, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Yeah slim down the play book enough for opposing defenses to figure out the calls and know exactly what the offense is doing that makes real sense.

    By the way congrats to HS (point of thread). after chunky’s tenure ended I was convinced he was and awful player. Shows what good coaching can do.

    • nudeman - Apr 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      (Channeling the voice of Alan Iverson saying “PRACTICE”)

      We’re talking NAVY!

      And yes, if you’ve got to slim down the playbook to get a legit QB on the field, if that’s what it takes, then SLIM DOWN THE DAMN PLAYBOOK

      We’re talking NAVY.


      • gracehall1980 - Apr 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM


        I’ve got to agree with several others. It’s NOT just Navy. Once the season starts there is no time to continue to LEARN the play book. It becomes about selecting the right packages of plays for the game plan for the next Saturday. And as much as I want EG as our QB this fall, if he can’t handle that task for the spring game or he first game of the season, I see virtually no way that he could pick up the full game plan in two days of practice for OU or USC.

        On a related but different note, is there any chance you could take a few days, preferably a week and maybe take a trip to an Internet monastery on the whole TR thing. The whole ND universe — or at least that part that loves this blog — is fully aware of your thoughts and passion on the topic. But you really are beating a dead horse. It doesn’t seem to matter what the actual topic is, you find a way to drag TR int another post. It is, to say the least, tiring. And it also takes away from your other good posts on other topics, because I think many of us have started to just jump over your posts.

        Just a thought.

        • nudeman - Apr 28, 2012 at 6:42 PM

          First on taking a leave, I am something of a populist so let’s let the people decide. If you’re reading this and think I need to disappear for a while, vote thumbs down.

          On Navy and EG, all I saw saying is that if you let him start vs. Navy and Purdue, 2 games ND should win with me at QB, he’ll be markedly better vs. UM than if he gets the proverbial “package” of 6-8 snaps like AH did last year. That approach has limited value in developing anyone.

      • trentnd - Apr 29, 2012 at 1:06 AM

        Nudeman, I believe gracehall1980 is asking for a bit of a break on your thoughts on TR specifically, not so much a “leave of absence” from the board entirely. I think we all, as a whole, can agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Along with that, there is an understanding that we may not all agree on the thoughts and observations that are shared on this board. However, more often than not, the rants against TR have become quite repetitive and a bit tedious on your part. I normally skip over the bickering and name-calling when it shows up, but actually hoped that these conversations would have fallen by the wayside when Keith addressed the issues not too long ago… Oh well…

        That being said, I hope that Floyd and Smith experience success at the next level (as well as Fleming and Blanton)! It can only help in our ability to recruit the type of athletes that have the skill sets to play in the NFL.

      • gracehall1980 - Apr 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM


        Trentnd hit on the head. I don’t want you to go on hiatus, I’d like the TR drum you keep banging to do so. It drowns out other useful things to talk about like getting EG ready. On that front I agree that live fire against Navy and Purdue would help his poise and hopefully his game management. But I won’t fix big gaps in his knowledge of he playbook. That’s got to be done first and CAN’T be done one the season starts.

        But let’s all cross our fingers that he can get the skill player parts of it done during the summer and. An work out getting the entire set during fall camp. Tall orders both from what little we hear.

      • nudeman - Apr 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM


        Point made and taken

        I’ll abstain from TR talk
        At least I’ll try

      • bernhtp - Apr 29, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        I think that discussion of the QB competition if fine. It obviously is a very big part of any ND football blog for the indefinite future. Just don’t be repetitious. Inject new facts, new analysis, opinions from outside (e.g., podcasts, media, coaches), etc. to keep it from getting completely boring.

  6. bearcatirishfan - Apr 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    I’ll admit that against navy that could work, but you just can’t against a legit defense. The coordinators and coaches are just to good at breaking down tape now.

  7. papadec - Apr 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    For anyone that cares about ALL ND Sports, not just Football – Syracuse is @ ND for Men’s LAX @ 5:00pm (ET) today – less than 1/2 hour from now, on espnu/espn3. The game is sold out. GO IRISH!!!

    • bernhtp - Apr 28, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      Thanks, I caught the second half. Notre Dame finally beat Syracuse.

  8. turknd - Apr 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Interesting stats-

  9. bogtrottin - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    saw this comment on peter king’s SI column today:

    “When our coaches coached the Senior Bowl,” Spielman told me, “they fell in love with Harrison Smith. At safety, the depth after him got really thin. So we felt that was a guy we really wanted to get where we got him.

    Read more:

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