Harrison Smith (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) grew up rooting for his Volunteers. When it became clear that he had the talent to play Division I football everyone, including himself, expected that he would stay in town and play for the University of Tennessee. That isn't how everything played out.
"It's Notre Dame," Smith responded when asked which school he intended to select on Friday. "I had fun when I visited both place. Notre Dame just felt like the place that I should go. I just kind of felt more comfortable at Notre Dame, which is funny because I live right here. When I went up there I just felt like it was me. I guess I really don't know how to describe it, I just felt like Notre Dame was where I belonged.
"I would never have imagined that this would happen. I had never been a Notre Dame fan or followed Notre Dame much at all. I just went through the recruiting process and it opened up some new things for me and I just found what was right for me.
"I'd say my official visit was my turning point," Smith said. "The guys at Notre Dame just welcomed me. They are like me. They just hung out and did things I like to do. I just talked to them about what Notre Dame had to offer and they just told me like it was."
Smith is the second player from Tennessee to commit to the Irish. Golden Tate committed to Notre Dame last week.
"Right after Golden Tate committed he sent me a text, so it will be nice to have another guy form Tennessee with me," Smith explained. "I'm excited to get into football at another level. I've been talking to a couple of guys I know that play college football and they say the speed of the game is just completely different. I'm excited to get into it and see what it's like.
"I'm just going to try to come in the best shape that I can and learn as much as I can. I'm not going to say that I expect to start, because I've never been involved in anything at that level. I know I'll have to adjust, but I'll just come in the best shape that I can."
Smith was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Tennessee.