Just as we did on the offensive side of the ball, we are taking an in-depth look at all of the defensive recruits who signed letters of intent with Notre Dame today. Heading into today the Irish had locked up 9 defensive recruits, but added a 10th to their 2013 recruiting haul on Wednesday when 5-star super recruit Eddie Vanderdoes selected Notre Dame over USC, UCLA, and Alabama.
That final piece of the puzzle has now pushed this from a great class, to an elite class with 5-star talent on the defensive side of the ball at every level – defensive line, linebacker, and defensive back.
As we did with breakdown of the offensive recruits, we are going to start off with the headliner on defense as well – 5-star super recruit Jaylon Smith.
Jaylon Smith – LB – 6’3″, 212 lbs – 5-star (Fort Wayne, IN)
- ESPN – 5-star, #2 OLB, #7 overall
- Rivals – 5 star, #1 OLB, #3 overall
- 24/7 – 5 star, #1 OLB, #5 overall
Analysis: The headliner on the defensive side of the ball in this year’s class. In all honestly, possibly the headliner on the defensive side of the ball in the last 20 years as the highest rated defensive recruit to enrol at Notre Dame since recruiting rankings became all the rage 10-15 years ago – higher than Manti Te’o, higher than Stephon Tuitt, and higher than Aaron Lynch.
Smith has a rare combination of speed, athleticism, and size at the linebacker position. While Te’o was bigger and stronger coming out of high school, his athleticism is just not on the same level as Smith’s.
For Smith, the question is not going to be if he will make an impact, it’s when. Given his 215 lbs current frame, he will need to bulk up big time in the off-season to see the field from day one. Still, Smith showed that even at 215 lbs, he could be a force as a pass rusher when lining up at defensive end in the US Army All American Bowl. In that All American Bowl it was clear that Smith was simply on another level than most of the other recruits on the field that day.
Smith will most likely project as an outside linebacker for the Irish behind Prince Shembo initially, but it is going to be really hard to keep him off the field in 2013 much like it was with Te’o in 2009. Smith has the ability to be a truly game-changing linebacker for the Irish for the next four years.
Oh yeah, he also has all of the makings of a future captain too.