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Big recruiting weekend nets Irish Durham Smythe

Jan 27, 2013, 6:58 PM EDT

Durham Smythe

Notre Dame’s big recruiting weekend wasn’t even over before it began reaping rewards. Texas tight end Durham Smythe, who was set to play for the home state Longhorns until December, pledged his commitment to the Irish on Sunday.

Smythe is the 23rd commitment in the 2013 class, with five freshman already enrolled. He’ll join Mike Heuerman at tight end, giving Notre Dame two capable replacements for All-American Tyler Eifert and reserve Jake Golic.

At a reported 6-foot-6, 235-pounds, Smythe is another big target at a position where the Irish continue to recruit impressive players. As the top tight end in Texas, Smythe played both connected to the line and flexed out wide, a versatility Brian Kelly has utilized with both Eifert and Kyle Rudolph.

While Smythe is the first to pull the trigger, early reports out of South Bend are promising. Fellow visitor Kylie Fitts raved to Irish Illustrated about his trip, telling them he had “an awesome time,” while finding a great fit spiritually.

UCLA commit Deon Hollins also was given something to think about, telling Blue & Gold that he was “blown away.” Hollins talked about where the Irish see him slotting into the defense, with no preference between inside and outside linebacker.

“I told them whichever line is the shortest,” Hollins told B&G. “They like me as an inside and outside linebacker. Football players are able to adjust. It doesn’t really matter to me where I play. I just want to play.”

The highest profile visitor of the weekend, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, reportedly won’t talk to the media until after Signing Day. But talking to people inside the program, the Irish coaching staff feels good about their chances with the five-star talent, who will spend next weekend at Alabama before choosing between the Irish, USC, where he was once committed, and the Crimson Tide.

  1. bernhtp - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Even though Durham Smythe is only rated by Rivals as three star, I’ve come to trust the judgment of this coaching staff on talent over Rivals. Eifert was also a three star. They must see something in him others don’t. However, with Niklas, Koyak, and Welch returning, Heuerman coming, and Robinson likely moving to TE on his next growth spurt, I’m surprised that they’re getting a TE with only a few spots left.

    • papadec - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM

      bern – it still comes back to the ND coaching staff recruiting players that can contribute at multiple positions. I don’t think they would accept Smythe (*** rated by Rivals) as the 23rd commit unless they had something in mind, other than TE.

      • bernhtp - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        I guess OT and DE are the other possible options for a big skill guy like Smythe, but he still appears to be best suited for TE. They must really, really like him to get him for one of their last slots.

      • chaunce922 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:20 AM

        I dont wanna wish injury on anyone, but lets say a DE goes down, Niklas could move back over to defense and be a legit pass rushing option if needed, dude was a monster there before. I kinda wish he never moved to TE, maybe a move like this will give him the opportunity to move back over with such depth at the position now..

      • irishdog80 - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        I watched his film and he has great hands and moves well for a big guy. You can never have too many high quality tight ends because they can create mismatches all over the field especially with 3 tight end formations. He does not seem that fast, but he is fast enough. His speed should also improve once he is in Longo’s weight and conditioning program.

    • jimbasil - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      This kid is a receiver. It appears he has great hands. He’ll cause mismatches all over the field with his height and length. He’ll see action in his second year. Not great speed, just a sure handed receiver with a big body when he gets on the field. ND is lucky to have him.

    • keelio19 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:48 AM

      I think were missing the point with this guy, right now we have zero Tight Ends that have proven they can go out and catch the ball and or block. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Eifert was a mismatch going out and catching passes all year. Koyak and Welch have both proven they can’t catch and or block (I.E Navy and Mich St Games). Nicklas will probably be the closest thing we have to Eifert next year and even he had been playing defense most of his career, and he’s already a Junior starting this upcoming season. Nicklas also struggled to pick up his blocking scheme, but again, last year was his first year on the offensive side of the ball, I’m guessing the coaches are expecting great things from Nicklas, but you just never know. I think this is a great pickup, who knows maybe Heurman will come out and be our next TE, maybe he won’t. Better safe to have a backup plan than just assume every player is going to live up to their potential. Bern, I’m not saying you are wrong, but I’ve heard zero reports on Robinson switching to TE. From everything I’ve heard and read he’s doing great things at the WR spot, and they like the possibility of him growing more and leaving him on 1 on 1 with a smaller CB. I really believe he is staying at WR, way to thin to play at the TE spot, and we need a tall lengthy receiver on the edge, we have a lot of smally shift fast guys playing in the slot / XYZ spot no giants out on the edge. It’s going to be a crazy offense if we can get things rolling and in sync. Think about it in a year or two, Robinson will probably be closer to 6’6 by then, DD on the other edge at 6’4, Heurman is already 6’4/6’5, Nicklaus is 6’5ish, and then Smyth at 6’6 right now. If we have just 3 of those guys out there on the goaline, can you say jump ball for 6 every time. It’s going to be a crazy offense if we can get things rolling and their all in sync with one another.

      • dsharp86 - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Welch was injured in pre-season and did not play the whole year. Not sure how good he’ll be but at least wait until he’s playing to criticize him.

  2. kiopta1 - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Sounds great…can’t wait to see where this class takes ND football and ND takes this class.

  3. dudeacow - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    I really like this guy, but, uh, how do you pronounce his last name? Smith? Smithee? Smithe? Da’Brickashaw? I just don’t know.

  4. dutch31 - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    I agree with Bern. The fact that they went after him hard late, makes me willing to bet he has a chance to be a big time player like Rudolph or Eifert.

    Now someone please help me let’s say the other 3 guys all want to sign with ND. ( just got home from working 10 hours on a Sunnday, I can fantasize a little bit)

    1. Can they sign 26 players. (Don’t think Hunter would be available this year, why risk a broken femur). Also couple other injuries involving returning players that may cause at least medical red shirts for next year
    2. So is there anyway ND would or could sign 26. They really need the D Line reinforcements!! Thanks in advance to anyone who responds.

    GO. IRISH!!!!

    • bernhtp - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      My understanding is that EEs count against last year, which was low, so the problem isn’t 25, but 85. To take all of these guys would require denying a fifth year to guys like Fox and Calabrese, which is not good in my opinion. Alternatively, scholarships could be reused from medical hardship, but this might smell too SEC for my taste at this late hour.

    • papadec - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      dutch – welllllllllll just to be a bit of a smart ass – they could start playing the SEC grey-shirting game & sign 30, then dump whoever isn’t performing in the Spring. That isn’t going to happen though. I think there is room for 2-3 more, in this incoming class. Maybe Keith can take a break from the Tabloid items, and research how many more commits the Irish really have room for. Nothing personal Keith, I’m just tired of the same old attacks on ND & Manti every time you post an update on that story.

      • dsharp86 - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:06 PM

        Just look back five or six articles to the one titled “The road to 85,” where Keith goes over the spots left and the impact on potential fifth years. Go

  5. dutch31 - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Papa don’t want to be SECish. But there are legitimate injury concerns and also always a chance on of the 23 or technically 18 don’t send their faxes. Not saying sign 35 like A+ M. But I think we need as much Defensive help as possible. They should still offer either Carlo or Fox a 5th year. Would never be in favor of throwing anyone to the curb. Wasn’t there a player this year who because of injury came off the books in terms of scholarship, but he still stayed enrolled free of tuition.

  6. papadec - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    bern – from what I read, ND told Smythe to be “patient”. What their acceptance of his commit, after the other guys visited, tells me is that they don’t think they will get commits from them. OR, they only think one, maybe two, will commit (including the guys coming in next weekend). That’s just gut feel logic.

    • bernhtp - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      It implies that the real number might be slightly different than what we’ve assumed and discussed due to unknown facts/futures. As I’ve said, I don’t understand why one of the ostensibly last slots goes to a less-than-top-rated player for a position already with good depth, but the operative term here is “don’t understand.” That doesn’t mean there isn’t an extremely good reason made by a staff that knows what they do.

  7. papadec - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    dsharp – thanks for the reminder on that post. Re-reading it confirms that the Irish could accept 25/26 commits at this time, then decide on the 5th Year Guys after the faxes come in on NS Day.

  8. yaketyyacc - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    Keith, the recruiting leaves me with this feeling: VERYY GRATIFYING. build Irish build…..

  9. mimefrog - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    There is also the possibility that Kelly plans to use 2 tight end sets, or even put 3 on the field at once. This could have interesting applications!

    • bernhtp - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Eifert is a huge loss. Niklas, Koyak and Welch need to step up big time, and at least one of Heuerman and Smythe need to get up to speed quickly. Having Heuerman as an EE should help, but I still have him as a long shot to make a significant contribution. Only Niklas has shown some receiving ability, and he is a far cry from Eifert. Koyak was a disappointment and Welch was injured.

      Daniels, Neal and Brown also need to step up to give Golson reliable targets and playmakers. Losing our top two receivers – Eifert and Riddick – will put a lot of pressure on everyone else.

  10. fnc111 - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Don’t look at recruiting rankings or the amount of stars, it’s meaningless. Look at what schools offered the prospect. That’ll tell you what you need to know about the player.

  11. fw190wuerger - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    And Mr. Smythe must be feeling better about his choice in light of the NFL’s Pro Bowl MVP selection last night — one Mr. Kyle Rudolph! “Notre Dame Football” and “excellent TEs” — often synonymous.

  12. fw190wuerger - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Dudeacow — on how to pronounce Smythe’s name, don’t worry, we’ll learn it before the bowl games.

    Reminds me of learning to pronounce the name of ND great, D’Squarius Green, Jr., before he played in the East/West College Bowl Game.

  13. fw190wuerger - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Oops, meant to point out that D’Squarius is introduced at 45 seconds into the East/West College Bowl Game introductions, but hey, it’s only about 3 minutes long, so just watch the whole thing.

  14. irishadrian - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I think this opens the door for Niklas to move back to defense. He’s not a great blocker and although he has good hands I see him moving back to maybe DE. He’s so big and strong and I think that’s why they took this other kid at TE, that gives them 5 TE’s without Niklas next year. The team is loaded with talent everywhere and the only thing that makes me nervous is Nix and maybe Tuitt and Shembo leave early next year leaving a huge hole.

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