Smith committed to Notre Dame on June 2, 2012. He is ranked 3rd overall in the nation according to Rivals.com and the best ranked outside linebacker in the country.
Smith is a 5 star recruit that stands 6’3’’ and weighs 212 pounds, which is a good sized linebacker, but needs to put on some muscle weight. That will come with time. Just by watching his technique you instantly know this guy has it. His steps are always correct and it amazes me how he fly’s to the ball with reckless abandon. You can see on film the hits he delivers are hard and with good form. His outside pass rush ability is very good as well. Using a combination of speed, agility, and his quick hands to swim and rip past people. His best attribute in my opinion is his closing speed. Smith is very quick for a linebacker especially when he is within 10 feet of a ball carrier he gets an extra bust before making the tackle. Adding to all these great attributes he also has very good ball skills, since he has also played running back in high school. Lastly, after watching some highlights from this year Smith was being double teamed on many plays. An outside linebacker being double teamed?! The thing is the times he was double teamed he got off the blocks very well and made plays. This is a testament to how good Smith really is.
The concern about Smith is the caliber of players he is facing week in and week out in high school. He plays on a division 2A team in Indiana, which enrolls about 300-600 students. Generally facing schools the same size, maybe a little bit bigger. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the competition he faces is inferior, but the likelihood of him facing another division one college prospect like himself isn’t likely. Now there have been plenty of players to come out of small schools to go on to Division 1 colleges, but do we really know how good Jaylon Smith is? Yes we do, because whether he is facing a school of 300 or a school of 3,000 he is still that good. Some could make the argument that he might not be a 5 star recruit if he played in a higher division, but the jury is still out on that. The competition he faces aside his techniques are almost flawless, good tackler, and has the closing speed of a linebacker mixed with a safety.
Overall, Smith is the best recruit Notre Dame is bringing in next season. With the All-American 4 year starter Manti Te’o graduating after this season, will there be an open spot for Jaylon? Well Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese are also seniors. These three guys are the inside linebackers for Notre Dame, so Smith will have his shot next year. Ishaq Williams will more than likely be moved inside if needed with his 6’5’’ 255 pound frame, but don’t forget about Danny Spond and Prince Shembo, who are juniors, will more than likely be starting at the outside backer positions. I will say I don’t necessarily see him in a starting role, but see him being a sub and special team’s guy for his first year.