It’s not like Notre Dame hadn’t been looking for a second running back. It’s just that it’s had a hard time finding them.
The Irish offered Master Teague earlier this spring but didn’t make the Tennessee back’s final list. He followed pursuits of Keaontay Ingram (Texas), Jashaun Corbin (Florida State) and Christian Turner (Michigan), all of which committed elsewhere. Florida athlete Lavonte Valentine and Georgia athlete Lyn-J Dixon technically remain on the board too.
Now add Deion Smith of Houston, Texas to that list.
The Irish offered the standout from Second Baptist School on Saturday in an effort to complement commitment Markese Stepp, although Smith might help at other positions too.
“It came out of the blue,” Smith said. “I’ve been talking to the recruiting coordinator, Aaryn Kearney since March. It’s been a constant communication but yesterday was the first time I heard from a coach. I talked to coach (Chip) Long and he offered me right there.”
Smith’s top offers include Boise State, Boston College, Colorado, Colorado State, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, TCU, UCLA, Utah, and Vanderbilt.
Now Smith has homework to do on Notre Dame.
“I haven’t really done a lot of research yet but I know they are a very competitive team,” Smith said. “I’ve watched a little bit of video but the school itself, I haven’t really researched it yet. It’s definitely always a place to consider. It caught my interest. I was very excited for this offer.”
Smith put up strong numbers last season. In 11 games, the 6-foot, 180-pound junior rushed for 1,223 yards (10 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns while racking up 494 yards receiving (22.5 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.
The Irish aren’t sure Smith would line up at running back in South Bend.
“(Coach Long) actually said he wasn’t sure whether they wanted me to play offense or defense,” Smith said. “But they know that I would be a great asset to the team. He knows I can play both so he’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter. We don’t know what you’re going to play yet. We haven’t decided.”
Last season Smith tallied six tackles and an interception, which he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.
Other than the odd series when his defense needs a spark, Smith doesn’t have a lengthy resume on that side.
“I used to play defense a little when I was little, but not really recently,” Smith said. “I just play defense when I have to, to help out the team. I haven’t really taken it seriously. I’ve been hearing that I can play defense so I’m going to take it seriously this offseason.”
The next step in this recruitment will be to get Smith on campus.
“I’m definitely thinking about it, I just have to see if I have time to,” Smith said. “Dealing with 7-on-7 and summer workouts, all that extra, I don’t want to miss anything. I’m definitely going to see if I can. I want to.”
Although Smith has much to learn about Notre Dame, he believes the Irish could be a player down the road.
“I can see it happening, Notre Dame is a really good school,” Smith said. “I’m not really stuck on staying in-state. I just want to go somewhere I feel like it fits me the best. I want to be all-in to it. I want to make sure I’m going where my talents will be displayed the best.”
Lately, a handful of schools have been showing more interest than the rest.
“Utah, Colorado, Washington, and TCU,” Smith said. “(An offer from Washington) hasn’t came yet but they’re showing a lot of interest.”
Planning to make several visits this summer, including an unofficial at Notre Dame, Smith plans to make headway on his recruitment before his senior season.
“I’m going to narrow it down closer toward the season,” Smith said.