When Notre Dame scored two running back commitments last summer it appeared to restock the Irish depth chart in full. C.J. Holmes and Markese Stepp both still offer feature back potential, but since they came on board Holmes injured his shoulder to miss virtually all of spring ball while Stepp suffered a hamstring injury so severe that it wiped out his junior season.
It’s all part of the reason why the Irish continue to keep tabs on other running back targets this cycle.
That’s where North Carolina athlete Jahmir Smith enters the picture.
Notre Dame offered the product of Lee County High School in Sanford, N.C., on April 4 and the Irish appear to be a fit on paper. Notre Dame has been working to get him to campus through running backs coach Autry Denson.
“I talk to Denson every now and then,” Smith said. “He said they were going to come out to my football practice.
“We don’t have definite plans, but I want to (visit Notre Dame). It’ll probably be in the summer.”
After receiving limited snaps as a sophomore, Smith blew up at his new high school program, putting up 2,130 yards rushing for 40 touchdowns, while adding 117 yards receiving and one touchdown in 2016.
“My sophomore year, I was at Southern Lee,” Smith said. “So, I was there in my sophomore year, but they didn’t start me. So, I went over to the rival school, Lee County and I started then. That’s when I started getting offers.”
Smith’s colossal season grabbed the attention of many college programs, landing him 28 offers to date, including Cal, Duke, Georgia Tech, UNC, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Mississippi State and more.
Ivy League schools Brown, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and Pennsylvania have all offered as well.
“I’d say the people that really want me are Northwestern, UNC and Clemson,” Smith said. “I’ve been talking to coach (Tony) Elliott (at Clemson) a lot.”
Smith’s academic profile plays a major part in his Notre Dame interest. The promising junior holds a 4.0 GPA and has strong interests beyond his football. Receiving a solid college degree is among his top concerns.
“It’s pretty high,” Smith said. “I want a plan B to fall back on. I want to take Biology or Pre-Med. I’m not 100-percent sure.”
For Smith, of all the notable stigmas that exist about Notre Dame, one sticks out more than the rest.
“I guess it would be the tradition,” Smith said. “If I made a top group, they’d probably be in the top.”
With a campus visit in the works and Irish staff soon to take in a practice at Lee County Senior, Smith is gaining a clear idea of when he will announce his decision.
“I’ll probably make my decision in June,” Smith said.
The Irish could stay put with just one running back addition to their impressive 2018 class. If they do decide to add a second back to their stable, Smith could be it.