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Irish A-to-Z: Joe Schmidt

Aug 21, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT


Senior linebacker Joe Schmidt might still carry with him the tag of walk-on. But he’s also one of the leaders on an Irish defense that’s counting on the senior to play key minutes as the man in the middle of Notre Dame’s defense.

So while the comparisons to Rudy are cute, they’re hardly fair for a player who had opportunities to play scholarship football out of high school, but earned his ride after arriving in South Bend. While undersized, Schmidt has all the tools necessary to serve as a productive middle linebacker in Brian VanGorder’s system.

Let’s take a closer look at the California native and his role on the Irish.


6′.5″ 235 lbs.
Senior, No. 38



An unranked prospect by Rivals, Schmidt reportedly had offers from Air Force and Cincinnati before talking the plunge and walking on at Notre Dame.

Pursued by USC for a walk-on roll as well, Schmidt was courted by the Irish staff on his unofficial visit, and even though they weren’t offering a full ride, Schmidt loved everything he saw, and took the gamble on himself .

A three-year starter at Mater Dei High School, one of the top prep programs in Southern California, Schmidt earned a scholarship before last season and likely a fifth year.


Freshman Season (2011): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2012): Played in the final 10 games of the season, primarily on special teams. Made six tackles.

Junior Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, seeing time as a reserve linebacker late in the season. Made 15 total tackles and two TFLs on the season. Made key pass breakup against USC in victory over Trojans.



Did we expect to see a player like Joe Schmidt find the field after five recruiting cycles at Notre Dame for Brian Kelly? No. But he’s a pretty good fit for a defense that demands an active middle linebacker, and Schmidt’s a teacher on the field, capable of getting players in proper alignment and serving as the nerve center for a young Irish defense.

Not a great fit for Bob Diaco’s 3-4 system, Schmidt will be covered by two defensive linemen in the 4-3, though he’ll still have to battle a lack of length and size to shed blocks. But a high football IQ can help all of that, and Schmidt’s hardly a runt, though the official roster listing him at a shade over six-foot is pretty giving.

Next year, the Irish might be ready to give Nyles Morgan the job in the middle of the Irish defense, or bring Jarrett Grace back once he’s fully healthy. But for now, Schmidt’s playing a crucial role in the heart of an unproven but talented defense.



Get ready to see a very productive linebacker. Capable of running down plays and excellent in coverage, Schmidt’s the type of player who may not have a future on Sundays but will certainly be productive on the field.

Talking with Schmidt earlier this week, it’s clear that he’s a born leader with a lot of sway in the locker room. He’s also an unselfish player, talking about the pride he takes in making sure fellow linebacker James Onwualu is lined up correctly or helping to put Jaylon Smith in a position that helps him make plays.

Schmidt will have his hands full, as the Irish implement a system that’s an NFL scheme. But I expect him to finish in the Top 3 in tackles this season, and play very good defense against the pass.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph
Max Redfield
Cody Riggs
Corey Robinson
Isaac Rochell
KeiVarae Russell

  1. papadec - Aug 21, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Undersized? He weighs about as much as I do – but he’s about 7 inches taller. Well, yeah, I guess for DIV I football he might be considered undersized @ LB.

  2. theunicaller - Aug 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Keith, Joe Schmidt is NOT 6’5

    • onward2victory - Aug 22, 2014 at 5:29 AM

      I think you missed the period, just like dickasman’s Russian prostitute from last month. Congrats on the baby Dicky! You should name him Keith Arnold Asman.

      • dwp1991 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        Well done.

  3. theunicaller - Aug 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Keith, Joe Schmidt is NOT 6’5

  4. bigedefense - Aug 21, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    I thought it read 6 foot 1half inch.

    • papadec - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      The roster @ has Joe @ 6′ .5″ (6′ 1/2″). I had to put my glasses on to see that decimal point between the 6 & the 5. In the Marine Corps, we used to say “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. That applies here. I’d rather have a pit bull than a NewF @ LB.

  5. domerboyirish - Aug 21, 2014 at 5:49 PM


    Eight days left! It looks like you have about 13 to 15 guys left to profile. You can do this! Come on man! Don’t give up now!

  6. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 21, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Keith I know you hate my posts but great job on the blog and the articles….

    • domerboyirish - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      Bad news John; SpongeBob is currently on Nickelodeon and you’re missing it.

  7. fnc111 - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Let’s try this again.

    Joe didn’t make one play against mighty $C last season. He can’t play at this level. The $EC would eat him up. He couldn’t even be a walk-on at Kentucky. Next.

    • andy44teg - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      Correction D’Bag…he made exactly one play in that game that was huge!

  8. dbldmr - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    C’mon. It’s irony or sarcasm or something. He’s kidding…adopting the johngalt persona.

    • andy44teg - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      I don’t think you know fnc as well as you think you do.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        andy’s correct, fnc was the king of general douchebaggery before johngalt showed up…he might be feeling outclassed (or out-underclassed????) by johgaltisemenking.

  9. fnc111 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    Andy44 is as slow mentally as they come. Insults people non-stop. This time it’s funny though.

    Settle down tough guy, I was sitting 50-yard line at the ’14 SC game. Shut your annoying pie hole if you don’t come around these parts lately.

  10. fnc111 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Guys like 44 and idrather think they know everything so they adopt themselves as official board bullies, i.e. third grade educated Kelly can do no wrong defenders.

    Talk about taking yourselves too seriously. I’m guessing they’re the blogger goons that never even go to ND games. In all honesty they hate it when someone has a differing opinion than them. How sad is that?

    I get a chuckle at their inability to understand a couple of my recent posts though. Also, they might be closet Michigan fans. They always get on me for my disappointment in one thing- Kelly being owned by average Michigan teams.

    Just go through the majority of my non-Kelly bashing posts and they’re all thumbs up dominant. So quit crying and go make your fat wives some dinner.

    • dillonbigred - Aug 22, 2014 at 2:15 AM

      You need to get some help, just calm down, it will be OK.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      I can just see you pounding the keys on your keyboard, red faces and muttering as you type this.

      If I do a little self reflecting, I find that my annoyance with you, and any other poster for that matter, comes from the SAME rhetoric, over and over and over again.

      For example…generally I have nothing against Nudey and his insights/intelligence, but when he went on his 24 month anti-Tommy Rees campaign…my brain said “FOCKIN AYE…GIVE IT A REST LODDY”

      The same is true for you jumping on BK’s back.

      I don’t have a problem with your opinion, it’s the fact that your opinion shows up over and over again on articles where it’s relevant and articles where it’s completely IRRELEVANT.

      And for the record, when your typically banter is negative, it’s tough for someone to read the sarcasm in your posts. It’s like dickassman joking about blowing a tranny in a bus station for several weeks, and then actually doing it. We’re not going to believe him.

  11. fnc111 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:17 PM


  12. jommy995 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    Joe is a great story. If he can pass defend, I’m fine with his size and lack of recruiting pedigree. Nobody’s gonna beat this juggernaut offense by running it between the tackles. Let’s hope that’s how opposing coaches draw it up.

  13. yaketyyacc - Aug 22, 2014 at 4:22 AM

    getting closer and closer. and whether Schmidt is 4’2″ or 8’1″ certainly begs the question. the point is that this young man has heart, and that kind of player inspires, and that inspiration leads to victories. Remember the motto: they serve who only stand and wait. We can be proud of our 2014 Football team, and the coaches that have gotten them to this point. They have put the punch into GO IRISH!

  14. glowplugv - Aug 22, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Yeah, never underestimate heart. Bobo Olsen from my era (66-’70) was 238 and I met him once around Joyce Center. I doubt he was more than 5’11”. Ended up with the record for tackles in three years as a starter. Thing I remember to this day was the post-game Cotton Bowl interview of the Texas (wishbone) fullback, Steve Wooster, with blood dripping down his nose from cut on the bridge saying, “I don’t know who that middle (inside) linebacker was, but he hit pretty hard.” That was Bobo Olsen the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP. He was drafted by New England in the fifth round, but did not make the team. There is a place for a good college football player, and I’ll bet that Schmidt will do just great job in the role laid out for him.

  15. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Looks like Pete Carroll isn’t done punishing the state of Illinois. Cheat on doomers.

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