Smith Excited About New Scheme

Toryan Smith was born to play linebacker. The 6-foot, 235-pound middle linebacker made an instant impact with the Irish during fall camp last year when tales of Smith's physical play became music to the ears of Irish fans everywhere. Smith saw the field in limited action last season, and he's hoping to see a lot more of it this fall.

The path for Rome, Ga. linebacker Toryan Smith looked clear. The freshman standout had already made a statement by getting on the field his first season as both a position player and a special teams player—usually a good sign for future success—and then it all changed with the firing of then defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, Rick Minter.

"I was a little uneasy when I first heard the news," Smith admitted about the coaching change. "I wasn't really sure what was going on. I wondered what was going on. But they brought coach Brown in, and his scheme is more NFL-like, it's what most teams are doing or moving to right now. I love it because I can be more physical and just play."

First impressions are memorable, and new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown made a very favorable one with Smith and his defensive teammates.

"What really sold me on him, was the first meeting we had with him, he came in and took control," Smith said. "He wasn't asking us anything. He told us how we were going to play. He told us we were going to hit hard, run all over the field, and take the ball away. It just makes you want to play for that guy."

While everyone was excited about coach Brown the person, Smith said he didn't quite know what to think about the new defensive scheme Brown would implement until he had some time to uncover the nuances of the new 34 look defense.

"At first, you're just kind of unsure," the former second-team USA Today prep All-American said. "You don't see many teams in college using the 34. I just didn't know what to think about it. You've got the Patriots, who kind of do it a little bigger, and the Jets, who kind of do it with a little bit smaller personnel. It's a linebacker defense, so it's a dream for me."

"It's going good," Smith said about his grasp of the new scheme. "I like the switch. I think it kind of fits my game a little more. I'm going up against a guard. I get to play a little more physical. I love it." "It's not similar at all, but it's not hard to grasp at all," he said when asked how his responsibilities have changed as a linebacker in the new scheme. "I think it fits my game. It's a lot of fun. We're getting after it. I love the competition. It hasn't been too hard of a transition. "I can go out there and play. In the past I think I had been thinking a lot. Now I can kind of just go, just go out and play."

Smith also spent considerable time in the weight room over the off season. While a good number of Irish players were adding weight and strength during the winter, the Irish strength coaches and the sophomore-to-be decided they needed to reshape Smith's body a bit.

"Actually I dropped maybe about 15 pounds," Smith said proudly about his newly sculptured body. "I worked really hard in the strength and conditioning program. I've switched up my body fat and beefed up a little more. I feel a lot quicker. I definitely feel faster out there. I really think it's going to help me. I'm just trying get better and evolve."

Freshman year is usually the hardest year for any college-bound student. Smith says he feels he's adapted quickly to life as a student/athlete at Notre Dame.

"The year went by pretty smooth," Smith said. "The academics are kind of tough here, but you expect that. I went through fall, and I think I did pretty (well). I want to play more. I'm looking forward to this spring to show that I need to be on the field."

And Smith already has the plan to get on the field more next season.

"I just keep playing my game," he said when asked what he needs to do this spring to assure himself of a starting position next season. "I've got to just keeping running and hitting. I think if I hit enough folks, I can convince somebody."

The former first-team all-state linebacker has never had a problem hitting anyone, and he strongly feels Irish fans will see plenty of hitting and aggressive play out of the Corwin Brown defense in 2007.

"It's somebody coming every play," he said of the new defense. "It's somebody coming from all kinds of angles. Inside, outside, we can bring five, we can bring six, or we can bring eight, and you never know where it's coming from. It will definitely keep you on your toes. We haven't played a snap of it in a game, but I can see the change in the mentality on the defense already. We're a little more fired up….a little more intensity. That's contagious. Everyone is attacking and you can tell the difference. " Top Stories