Jay Smith has Irish among his favorites

Once Charlie Weis returned to the Notre Dame campus as the head football coach, the Irish offense went from ineffective and punchless to explosive and exciting. The results on the field are as obvious as the interest from the top high school players in the country. Another top athlete to take notice of the Irish offense is Jay Smith of Lake Taylor high school (Norfolk, Va.)

Scout.com's No. 24-rated receiver, Jay Smith (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), has seen enough of Charlie Weis' offense in a year, and decided that he likes what he sees.

"It's going good," Jay replied when asked about his recruitment. "Notre Dame has been sending stuff for about a year. I'm scheduled to go up there for an official visit for the Michigan game.

"They're in my top seven. I was looking at their academic programs and their overall programs and me and my dad talked about it and we really like what is going on down there."

Jay's father, Mordecai, was a highly recruited player coming out of high school (signed with North Carolina State) so he has been able to help his son through early stages of the recruiting process.

"It's primarily coach Ianello that we speak to," Mr. Smith said of his Jay's main contact with Notre Dame. "They said they would like to offer Jay, but they are waiting on a few things for admissions, and once that is cleared they would send a written offer.

"Jay talks to the coaches about once a week. They've been interested in Jay for some time. After Jay earned the MVP of the Scout.com combine in Durham, I think that's what really convinced them that they really wanted Jay.

"Coach Ianello, in my opinion, is one of the best in the nation," Mr Smith said of the Irish wide receivers coach. "Coach Ianello is good. Through the recruiting process I've been trying to talk to all the wide receiver coaches to try to get a feel for them and I'm very impressed with Ianello. Obviously Notre Dame is a big-time vertical program in terms of throwing the football. The offense is nothing but vertical, and I know just looking at the scheme that Ianello loves receivers that can stretch the defense with receivers that are 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4. I know Jay's his type of receiver and we've had those types of discussions.

"Jay is extremely technical. He's very polished at his position," Mr. Smith said off his son's ability. "Everybody is strictly recruiting Jay as a wide-out. Jay is very technical, an excellent route runner, he has great hands, and he has athleticism.

"Right now Jay is up to 197 pounds. He's maintained his speed and Jay is still 16-years-old. He's still growing. He's a vertical receiver. He runs a 4.4-forty on grass. He can probably get quicker and stronger. He's still got another year to develop. I'm not saying he can't play other positions, but everybody is recruiting him at wide-out so he'll stay at wide-out. That is what Notre Dame is interested in, and everybody else is interested in. They think Jay can stretch the field.

"Jay played on a high school that didn't throw the ball a lot. That might have been frustrating to Jay, but what Jay did is became an incredible blocker. He's come to me after some games and said, ‘Hey did you see that block?' Anything off-tackle or to an outside gap, you need the interior blocking and he blocks very, very well. I think that's something that sets him apart."

Jay has scholarship offers from all the major conferences, and most of the top programs in the country, but going into August the Smiths have been able to narrow the list to seven.

"We've got a top seven," Mr. Smith announced. "Two of the top seven are in-state schools (Virginia Tech and Virginia) and we're not doing official visits with them. We're going to do unofficial visits with them. The other visits will be officials and I just scheduled those, and those would be; Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Tennessee. North Carolina State is also included in there, but we're not considering them for an official visit. We're just going to visit them on an unofficial visit and July 24. I'm trying to get all the visits done by the end of September.

"I know Jay can play anywhere in the country based on his skills, and he's just getting bigger and stronger. I want to see how my son reacts to the environment at all the schools. You can look into a kids eyes and see that gleam and you really don't know until you go a campus and talk to the players and see how the environment is. I just want to make sure he finds a place that suits him from his surroundings and offensive standout point. I really feel comfortable with the decision Jay will make within those seven schools remaining. At this point I think I just want Jay to go visit and see what he thinks."

Originally the Smith's were hoping to have a decision finalized by the start of his high school season, but it is now like that a decision with come closer to October or November.

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