Notre Dame’s junior linebacker Jaylon Smith is off to a fast start. He’s leading the team in solo tackles and just edges Joe Schmidt for the lead in total tackles. He’s also leading the team in TFLs, shares the lead in sacks, and already has two tallies in the pass breakups and pass defended, while also forcing a fumble and recovering one as well.
Asked by Brian Kelly and the defensive staff to elevate his game this season, Smith has done just that. Combined with his elite athletic traits and an advanced knowledge of the defensive scheme, Smith’s in the conversation for the country’s best linebacker.
At the quarter-turn of the season, ProFootballFocus thinks he’s the best.
He leads their grading system with a PFF rating of 10.8, the highest of any linebacker in the country. Smith’s defensive performance is a big reason why the Irish check in at No. 6 in the AP poll this week and sit at 3-0.