Notre Dame already owns ideal linebacker depth, but the Irish want a couple more at the position this cycle. Three-star Jonathan Smith from Laurinburg, N.C., could now be part of the program’s haul after landing an offer from Notre Dame on Thursday.
“I have been anticipating this offer for a long time because I have always been a big fan of Notre Dame,” Smith said. “Their inside linebacker, Manti Te'o, is one of my role models and someone I try to imitate my game after."
Smith, who projects on the inside, first jumped on first-year defensive line coach Keith Gilmore’s radar when the Gilmore coached the same position at North Carolina.
“Coach Gilmore told me that he first found out about me at North Carolina,” Smith said. “That was when I was a lot younger. Now that he’s at Notre Dame, he said he wants to offer me a scholarship. He told me that he wants me to visit the school and get to know the linebackers coach better.
“(Gilmore) says Notre Dame likes how I aggressive I play, how I play downhill fast and how I can pass drop.”
The 6-foot, 229-pound linebacker says three schools are recruiting him harder than the rest.
Smith plans to visit Notre Dame next month, though he’s unsure if it will be for Irish Invasion. Other schools likely to receive summer visits include Michigan and Michigan State. Smith is the cousin of former Michigan State wide receiver and 2015 NFL draft pick Keith Mumphery.
Smith is a three-star prospect and ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in North Carolina and as the No. 24 overall inside linebacker in the Class of 2016.