Notre Dame’s defensive recruiting heated up in a big way this week with the Irish adding a pair of stud defensive recruits in 5-star Jaylon Smith and 4-star Isaach Rochell.
Jaylon Smith, a 6’3″, 220 lb linebacker prospect, is one of the nation’s top prospects regardless of position and is the type of truly elite athlete that Notre Dame has had trouble landing until recent years. Rivals ranks Smith as the 4th overall recruit in the country and the #1 outside linebacker – ie the type of recruit that Notre Dame has to consistently land in order to get back among the nation’s elite programs.
Virtually every elite program offered Smith a scholarship. I’d list them out here but the list might take up too much room.
In terms of where Smith fits in at Notre Dame, it’s a little unclear just because he is so talented and athletically gifted that he could potentially play three of the four linebacker positions for the Irish one he arrives on campus.
Given his talent and potential, it’s safe to say that Smith could immediately challenge for playing time when he arrives on campus next year but his biggest immediate impact could be on the recruiting trail. Landing an elite recruit such as Smith – especially on the defensive side of the ball – could pay huge dividends for Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff. Elite recruits like to play with other elite recruits and by all accounts Smith is already hard at work on getting some fellow standout defensive recruits to join him and the other 13 commitments in a Notre Dame class that is suddenly shaping up to be something special.
One of those fellow recruits, Isaac Rochell, just joined Smith in committing to Notre Dame this week as well. Like Smith, Rochell’s commitment was huge for the Irish because of what it could mean in terms of putting together the entire class of 2013. Notre Dame was able to go down into the heart of SEC country in Georgia and secure the commitment of Rochell despite the 4-star defensive end collecting offers from virtually every SEC program.
Rivals ranks Rochell as the #8 strong side defensive end and #88 overall prospect giving Notre Dame three recruits in Rivals’ top 100 – Smith and offensive lineman John Montelus being the other two.
The commitments of Smith and Rochell have given Notre Dame some life on the defensive side of the ball. Prior to their pledges, the Irish had just three defensive commitments – cornerbacks Rashad Kinlaw and Devin Butler and defensive end/tight end Jacob Matusaka.
Their commitments also push this class up to 14 total recruits with plenty of work left to be done even though the ship is filling up pretty quickly now. Notre Dame has done a fantastic job addressing needs with those 14 commitments as well and if they can back up the success they are having off the field with on field results this year, this class could end up being very, very good.