Five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith is a rare athletic talent that has the capability to help the Notre Dame defense in multiple ways. Our Allen Trieu gives you the scoop on Smith's skills, recruitment and more.
Check out our entire series of top recruit profiles as we count down to Signing Day:
Jan. 24: No. 12 Thomas Tyner
Get to know him
High school: Bishop Luers HS (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Rating: (No. 1 overall OLB)
Biggest strength: Without a doubt, it's his athleticism and versatility. He can really run and change directions and is one of the most fluid guys in this class. His speed in that frame allows him to do a lot of different things on the field. He can run with receivers and backs and cover them, and he can come forward and rush the passer.
Area for improvement: He has to add some weight and strength. He's about 210 pounds right now. I think you'd like to see him be able to add 20-30 pounds and keep his speed.
NFL player he reminds us of: I think, moreso than who he reminds me of now, I think what he'll end up being is something like a Von Miller. A linebacker who can really rush the passer and also be able to drop into coverage. Von was 6-foot-3, 245 pounds at the NFL Combine running a low 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and I envision Jaylon ending up something like that by the time he's coming out of college.
Q: Smith has been a Notre Dame commit since the summer, even before the team's run to the national title game began. What were the main reasons for him picking the Irish, and is there any reason to think the commitment isn't solid?
Trieu: He really always liked Notre Dame. It wasn't a big surprise at all when he chose them. It is pretty close to home for him, he really liked the campus and the coaches, and I also think they run a defense that is going to allow him to utilize his wide array of skills.
Q: Smith made a jump up to the No. 1 outside linebacker spot in the final Scout 300 rankings. What did you all see from him to put him at the top of the pack?
Trieu: He is such a rare athlete. It doesn't take long watching him to see how smooth he is, how fast he is, and as mentioned earlier, that allows him to do almost anything on the football field that you could ask him to do. You watch his film and see him playing running back, then see him go out to a camp and play cornerback at his size, and you really get the full picture of what a great athlete he is.
Q: What are the biggest positives he brings to the field?
Trieu: Well, he gives a defensive coordinator a lot of options. The toughest defensive guys to prepare for are the guys who you don't know where they're going to line up and where they're coming from. He's a guy quarterbacks will have to account for pre-snap on every play, and even then, you don't know if he'll drop and run with your slot receiver or blitz and come after the quarterback. He's also a great kid who is going to be a positive presence in the huddle and in the locker room.
Q: Does he have a shot to get on the field as a freshman?
Trieu: I think it would be an upset if he didn't see the field in some capacity as a freshman. The only thing that would keep him back is that weight, and I think he'll end up putting some pounds on before the first game.
Q: Notre Dame will be losing a Heisman Trophy-candidate linebacker in Manti Te'o. Does Smith have the stuff to be the next legendary Irish defensive player?
Trieu: Ability-wise, Jaylon definitely has a chance to do some great things at Notre Dame and really be an impact guy for them.
In his own words
"Obviously the opportunity is there (at Notre Dame) to play right away, but it's a great education. It's close to home, and you're not going to play football forever. So you've got to make a 40-year decision rather than a four-year decision." -- Jan. 1