One of the biggest names in the modern recruiting era has made it official. Jaylon Smith has faxed in his letter-of-intent. Let’s try and put in perspective just how big of a commitment this is.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Measureables: 6-foot-3, 215-pounds
Accolades: 2012 High School Butkus Award Winner. First-team USA Today All-American. First-team Parade All-American. Finalist for All-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Indiana Mr. Football. Consensus five-star recruit. Four-time state champion. U.S. Army All-American.
Impressive offers: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC
Projected position: Outside linebacker
Quick Take: There’s really no overstating the signing of Smith. In the crazy world of recruiting, where we celebrate a player before he’s accomplished anything, Smith is the most impressive defensive recruit the Irish have ever signed.
It’s conceivable that Smith will walk onto campus and be the team’s best cover corner, best pass rusher, and best linebacker. He could also compete immediately for time at running back or wide receiver. Separated himself athletically at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Also lynch-pinned the 2013 recruiting class, a constant presence on campus for official and unofficial visitors. Smith’s commitment to Notre Dame early in the process took the drama out of his recruiting, but this signing is every bit as big as Manti Te’o’s.
What it means for the Irish roster: Smith gives Bob Diaco a shiny new Ferrari in the garage. He doesn’t fit the profile of an outside linebacker in Notre Dame’s 3-4 scheme, but he’s got the athleticism to make a difference from the moment he steps on campus, and gives the Irish some versatility and pass rush skills they just haven’t had in recent years.
Obligatory YouTube highlight tape: Here’s the senior highlight tape of Smith, where he stars at running back and also makes a handful of plays on defense. From those that have seen Smith in person, these clips don’t do him justice.