Feb. 1, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly speaks at a press conference for national signing day at the Guglielmnio Athletics Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Prospect Evaluation: Notre Dame Commit Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith Film

Notre Dame’s top commitment in the 2013 recruiting class is Jaylon Smith, linebacker from Fort Wayne Indiana. Smith selected Notre Dame over Ohio State and Southern California on June 6th of this year. Smith is excellent both on and off the field. His commitment will soften the blow of losing Manti Te’o after this season. Although Te’o has been a productive player throughout his career, Smith has potential to impact the game in a way that Te’o never has.

Strengths

Jaylon Smith is an elite athlete. At 6’3” 212 lbs, Smith moves and looks like a college Running Back or a Safety already. He is type of athlete that Notre Dame does not have currently on their defense. Smith can rush the passer and dominate in coverage. With these abilities, he can play any of the linebacker positions. But, Smith would serve the Fighting Irish the most by playing the Dog Linebacker. He appears to be the type of defender that could make the impact plays that are not made by Notre Dame’s Defense currently. Whether these are interceptions or fumble recoveries for touchdowns, Smith has the athletic and ball skills to turn a game on one play. While participating on the camp circuit, Jaylon Smith proved two things. First, he proved that he can be an excellent leader. Many observers have noted that Smith is vocal in offering encouragement to any player at these camps, from Division 1 recruits to Friday Night Lights heroes. Second, Smith has proved himself against some of the best players in the country. This has clearly boasted his ratings and probably prepared him for playing at Notre Dame.

Weaknesses

Currently, Smith only weighs about 212 lbs. He needs to about 30 to 40 lbs to be ready play on every down. In comparison with all the other players at his projected position, he weighs about 27 to 43 lbs less. Basically, he must prepare his body physically. The High School conference he plays in does not feature the best talent across the board. Making that adjustment on a daily basis may be a challenge for Smith. Although he has proven himself on the camp circuit, playing in pads on daily basis may different. Gunner Kiel could be a close comparison here. Kiel is struggling to adjust after playing against less talented competition at Columbus East High School in Indiana.

Overall

Smith is an elite player. Many services have rated him in the top 10 of their 2013 class. Notre Dame needed Smith more than any other recruit in this class. He is the type of player who may start every game as soon as he arrives on campus. His talent will clearly not be the issue. If Jaylon Smith can prepare himself mentally and physically, he will have a long and prolific career at Notre Dame.

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