Jaylon Smith

Final Rivals 100 list filled with Irish recruits

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A final stamp was put on the Rivals 100 prospect ranking for 2013 and it confirms what we all have known for quite some time.

Notre Dame’s recruiting class is good.

Of the top 100 players in the country, the Irish have accepted the commitment of five players, including three of the top 30. One other name still in consideration is five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes.

Here are the Irish recruits that made the rankings:

No. 3 — Jaylon Smith, OLB: Smith is the highest ranked player the Irish have landed since Jimmy Clausen. While he doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a ‘Dog’ linebacker in the Irish’s 3-4 system, he’s too good of an athlete to keep off the field.
No. 19 — Greg Bryant, RB: Replacing Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick should be easier to stomach with Bryant. A nice mix of power, speed, and versatility, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Bryant can fight his way into the mix.
No. 30 — Max Redfield, DB: The third five-star prospect of the class, Redfield looks like a ballhawk in center field. He’s not the most physically imposing player in the secondary, but he’s a true athlete and adds some more length and athleticism.
No. 60 — Steve Elmer, OT: Already on campus, we’ll get our first look at Elmer this spring. There doesn’t seem to be a glaring need at tackle, but Elmer will have the staff’s eye for 15 sessions this spring, a nice jump start for his career.
No. 74 — John Montelus, OG: A great interior line prospect, Montelus will be add another big body to the inside. At a position where there are question marks at guard and center, and Chris Watt graduating after this season, Montelus is an important player at a position of need.

Of the uncommitted players still on the board, the Irish are in the best shape with Vanderdoes, who will be on campus this weekend. The Irish have chased Mackensie Alexander, the No. 42 prospect, for a long time, but appear to have cooled on Alexander, a feeling that seems mutual. Cornerback Priest Willis has also had his name connected to the Irish in the past, but that ship appears to have sailed as well.

And now to the fish that got away. Vernon Hargreaves III was an early target of the Irish, with Tony Alford working hard on Hargreaves. At No. 2, the Irish clearly saw something in the elite cornerback, who played very well on the All-Star circuit. Laquon Treadwell was another prospect the Irish just couldn’t get in the game with either, as the No. 5 player in the country has decided to go to Ole Miss, a surprise to many Michigan fans that thought they had the inside track for the Illinois star. Al-Quadin Muhammad (#49) looked likely to pledge to the Irish but various reports have academics getting in the way.

Seeing Alex Anzalone pick up a fifth-star didn’t fee very good for Irish fans, with Anzalone’s eleventh hour defection putting a dent in the linebacking corps of the Irish. Also of note was fellow five-star Dorian Johnson, an offensive lineman from Pennsylvania who ran out of spots with the Irish even with a family connection to Scott Booker. Johnson is the No. 31 ranked player in the country and the top offensive lineman.

One final prospect to watch? USC commit Ty Isaac, who some believe will still end up with the Irish in the end.

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.