One of the first major reclamation projects for Brian Kelly at Notre Dame was Harrison Smith. Under Charlie Weis, Smith played out of position and moved around a lot never finding consistent success. Kelly moved Smith to safety and watched him turn into a 1st round pick of the Minnesota Vikings two years later. Today, Smith signed a massive contract extension with those same Vikings making him the 2nd highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Former Notre Dame offensive line Mike Golic Jr broke the news of Smith’s 4-year, $64 million extension for ESPN earlier today. Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks is the only higher-paid safety currently in the NFL.
The extension should allow Smith, 32 years old as of today, to finish his career in Minnesota where he has spent his entire career. During that time, Smith has gone to 5 Pro Bowls and was named a 1st team All-Pro in 2017. Since entering the league in 2012, only two other players in the entire NFL have more interceptions than Harrison’s 28.
In June of 2016, Smith signed a 5-year, $51.25 million contract that has one year left on it prior to his most recent extension.
Smith’s resurgence under Kelly was one of the first signs that Kelly knew what he was doing relative to his predecessor. Weis had an under-sized Smith trying to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Kelly said upon arriving at Notre Dame that Smith was a safety and that if he couldn’t play safety he couldn’t play. Smith rewarded Kelly’s convictions about him with a signature 3-interception game against USC in 2010 ending the Trojans then eight-game winning streak over the Irish.