Jaylon Smith (Linebacker, 6'3" 225 pounds)The city of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Bishop Dwenger High School has been kind to Irish fans of late, receiving key contributions from a trio of its favorite sons: four-season contributing wide receiver John Goodman, current redshirt-sophomore and instrumental defensive line backupTony Springmann, and of course, all-star tight end Tyler Eifert and his evolution from quality target to program legend.
Now the Irish have hit Dwenger's arch-rival for its top talent, with Bishop Luers product Jaylon Smith ranking as the 2013 class's top prospect and among the most versatile "can't miss" athletes to join Notre Dame's program this decade.
A rare athlete, a knowledgeable football player, and from all accounts, an outstanding citizen, teammate, and student-athlete, Smith may or may not become an all-time great at Notre Dame, but he'll put forth the effort to that end.
Veterans returning at Linebacker: 5th-year senior Carlo Calabrese, 5th-year senior Dan Fox, senior Prince Shembo (1), senior Kendall Moore (2), senior Justin Utupo (2), junior Ishaq Williams (1), junior Jarrett Grace (3), junior Ben Councell (3), junior Anthony Rabasa, sophomore Romeo Okwara (3)
Berk on Smith: What else can you say about one of the top prospects to come out of the state of Indiana except to say the sky is the limit for Smith and Irish fans should be extremely excited.
Dohn on Player: He's the No. 1 outside linebacker in the class for a reason.He does everything well. He pursues, he's physical, he's big, he runs well, he has tremendous burst. About the only thing he didn't do was enroll early. He's an absolute stud on the field and a nice kid off it.
O'Malley's Initial SlottingA dominant high school player in space, Smith won't fill one role for the Irish during his four seasons. He's needed, ready, and able to play many, with Dog linebacker a seemingly ideal match for his skill set.
Look for Smith to challenge for the starting nickel role next August, one usually occupied by a safety and/or cornerback (Robert Blanton 2010, Jamoris Slaughter 2011, Elijah Shumate 2012). From there he can impact the game on third down, and unlike Shumate who only entered in obvious passing situations, the much-stronger Smith could play in most down-and-distance situations and hold up vs. the outside run while still being able to contend with tight ends down the seam and slot receivers in space.
Senior Dog 'backer Danny Spond returns as a player fit perfectly to his position -- he's played there as a backup or starter (2012) for each of his three seasons. On the opposite side of scrimmage is the tandem of Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams -- both of whom carry 40-plus more pounds than does Smith at present. Neither the Cat nor the Dog is a position of concern, and Smith -- purportedly about 210-215 pounds according to midwest recruiting manager Allen Trieu -- would have trouble as an every down linebacker inside as a true freshman.
A nickel role seems a fitting landing spot for which Smith can compete to start from Day Oe, with Dog an eventuality as Smith is the prototype football player for the position in Bob Diaco's multiple-look defense.
Links of Note: Click the links below for more highlight reels and comprehensive recruitment information for Jaylon Smith: