Jaylon Smith

Sophomore Season (2014) – Heading into his sophomore season, Smith made the move to inside linebacker in Notre Dame’s new 4-3 defense under first year defensive coordinator Brian Vangorder.  Even with his superior athleticism, Smith saw some growing pains along the way as he learned a new position and played inside out of necessity more so than anything else.

Starting all 13 games for the second season in a row, Smith led the team in tackles with 112 and tackles for loss with 9.  Smith was also second on the team in sacks with 3.5 trailing only Romeo Okwara’s 4.0.  Unlike his freshman season, however, he didn’t intercept a pass or recover a fumble.

Smith’s best performance came against Stanford when he notched a career high 14 tackles with 2.5 for loss in Notre Dame’s thrilling victory over the Cardinal. Smith also recorded double digit tackles against Michigan, Northwestern, Louisville, and USC. His efforts earned Smith 2nd-Team All-American honors from the AP.

As Smith heads into his junior season, his role is still up in the air.  Will he stay inside as he was in 2014 or will Vangorder move his best playmaker to the outside where his athleticism and talent could help produce the pass rush that the Notre Dame defense was sorely missing in 2014.  Smith, already an All-American, has the potential to be even better for Notre Dame in 2015 which should be a very scary thought for opposing offenses.

Freshman Season (2013) – Coming to Notre Dame with 5-star accolades, Smith was thrust into a starting role when Danny Spond’s career came to an abrupting halt due to complications from concussions.  His opening day start marked the first time a true freshman linebacker started a season opener since Kory Minor took the field for the ’95 opener against Northwestern. Once in the lineup, Smith’s 5-star reputation was clearly evident as the local product flashed superior athleticism throughout his rookie campaign.

As a freshman, Smith ranked third on the team in tackles with 67 including 6.5 for loss and by the end of his rookie year he recorded a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

During a five game stretch starting with Arizona State, Smith recorded a tackle for loss in all five contests.  The Arizona State game, in fact, was the first game where Smith started to look like one of the best players on the field.  He collected nine tackles, one for loss, and forced a fumble.  A few weeks later in a loss to Pitt, Smith racked up a then career high 11 tackles.

Smith’s freshman campaign ended with Freshman All-American honors.  His collection of a sack, interception, forced fumble, and fumble recovery in eight games came 31 games quicker than it took Manti Te’o who didn’t accomplish the feat until his senior season.

Recruiting – Jaylon Smith was a consensus 5-star recruit and considered one of the best players in the country regardless of position coming out of Bishop Luers High School in nearby Fort Wayne.  Smith was considered a lock for Notre Dame early in the process and he didn’t wait long to commit to Notre Dame and become the cornerstone for Notre Dame’s class of 2013.  Tabbed a US Army All-American, Smith’s talents were on full display in San Antonio where Smith was clearly one of the best players on a field littered with 5-star recruits.

Jaylon Smith News

Notre Dame Football: Top 10 Players Of The Last 30 Years

Recently, Athlon Sports put out a Top 50 players of the last 50 years list and Notre Dame was shut out. I’m not going to spend a ton of time complaining about that, because really who cares? Do I think a school that won three national titles–and finished second three other times–over that time frame […]

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Top 10 Notre Dame Football Players of the Brian Kelly Era

This top ten countdown is based on the players who were the most valuable and talented to come out of Notre Dame during the Brian Kelly era. 10. DeShone Kizer What if Malik Zaire didn’t break his ankle at Virginia, would Kizer ever have gotten a chance? Kizer was a good recruit coming out of […]

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Notre Dame’s 2016 NFL Rookies Impresing Early

While the 2016 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are just three days into their fall camp, many of their former teammates who are now pursuing their NFL dreams have been working for weeks.  NFL training camps kicks off in late July and pre-season games are about to start – assuming their are no more unplayable field […]

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#16 Jaylon Smith: Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players

#16 Jaylon Smith, Linebacker, 2013-2015 Notre Dame’s most athletic linebacker of all time also ranks, along with Luther Bradley, as one of the greatest natives of Indiana to ever don the Blue and Gold. Born and raised in the Summit City of Fort Wayne, Smith was a multi-sport athlete at Bishop Luers who won the […]

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Notre Dame’s Early Departures Decisions Validated in ’16 NFL Draft

After years of avoiding a max exodus and early departures, Notre Dame lost four players this off-season who had eligibility remaining – Will Fuller, Keivarae Russell, CJ Prosise, and Jaylon Smith.  By the end of the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft, the quartet has been largely validated in their decisions. On Thursday night, Will […]

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Did Jaylon Smith’s Injury Lead to Early NFL Departures for Notre Dame?

Star Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith’s career had been going exactly according to plan. The one-time five-star prospect arrived in South Bend as the highest rated linebacker recruit Notre Dame had signed in the Internet recruiting era, even surpassing the ranking of Manti Te’o, one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history. […]

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How Notre Dame Will Replace Jaylon Smith

Earlier this week Jaylon Smith surprised few when he declared for the NFL Draft.  Had the 2015 Butkus Award winner not injured himself in the Fiesta Bowl, his declaration likely would have occurred much sooner.  While his departure is no surprise, the task of replacing him in the Notre Dame defense will be one of the […]

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Jaylon Smith Injury Update: Expected to Make Full Recovery

The good news for Notre Dame’s 2015 Butkus Award winning linebacker Jaylon Smith is that he is expected to make a full recovery from the nasty knee injury that earned him a ride off the field on a cart in last week’s Fiesta Bowl. The bad news is that Smith’s draft status still remains very […]

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Jaylon Smith’s Injury Clouds NFL Future

The most unfortunate storyline from Notre Dame’s disappointing performance in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl was the nasty knee injury suffered by Jaylon Smith in the first quarter – an injury that so far has only been described as “significant”.  While the injury certainly impacted Notre Dame’s ability to contain Ohio State’s potent offense, the impact the […]

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Notre Dame v. Ohio State – Fiesta Bowl Key Matchups

A look at the key match-ups for the Irish in their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Ohio State.

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Recapping Notre Dame’s 2015 Team Awards

On Friday night Notre Dame celebrated Team 127 with the annual Echoes event – aka the old Notre Dame football banquet.  The yearly celebration is highlighted, of course, by handing out a myriad of awards.  Here’s a full recap of who took home what honors this evening. Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Jarrett Grace This award is […]

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Jaylon Smith: NFL Decision ’16

Notre Dame still has one very important game left in the 2015 season with their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Ohio State, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation on the NFL futures of a number of Notre Dame players – specifically the five who applied for a NFL evaluation last week.  Over the next few days […]

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Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, Will Fuller Named USA Today All Americans

Notre Dame landed a trio of players on the 2015 USA Today All-American team with defensive stalwarts Sheldon Day and Jaylon being named 1st Team All-Americans and speedster wide receiver Will Fuller being tabbed a 2nd team All-American.  With three players on the two squads, Notre Dame only had fewer All-Americans than the Crimson Tide […]

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Jaylon Smith 2015 Butkus Award Winner

Notre Dame star linebacker Jaylon Smith received the ultimate honor for a linebacker on Tuesday when he was named the 2015 Butkus Award winner.  In process Smith joined a select and elite group of linebackers to win the award at both the high school and college level – a group that is now comprised of […]

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Notre Dame v. Stanford ’15: Shamrock Stickers

Notre Dame saw its playoff hopes dashed in California as Stanford defeated the Irish 38-36.  The Irish were beaten on a field goal as time expired giving them their second loss of the season by a combined total of four points.  The difference in the game was Notre Dame’s inefficiency in the red-zone, settling for […]

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