Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 40 of 55 JANUARY 2023 41 BY MIKE SINGER Frisco (Texas) Reedy class of 2023 wide receiver Kaleb Smith's path to becoming a Notre Dame commit was something you don't see too often. The 6-1, 180-pounder picked up an offer from Texas Tech in November 2021 and committed to the Red Raiders in February. That was the only school to offer him until Notre Dame eventually came into the picture. "After my junior year, I thought that offseason was going to be big for me," Smith explained. "I only had one offer, and I knew what I could do. I was going to hit up some camps and see what's up." Smith went to an Under Armour re- gional camp in March and fractured a bone in his right hand on the last rep of the camp. While it wasn't a major injury with a recovery time of just a few weeks, Smith halted the camp circuit plan to not risk any further injury ahead of his senior season. "I figured that either way, schools would see my film and what I'm all about," Smith continued. "And I was fine with that." Notre Dame got in contact with Smith near the end of September. Irish director of recruiting Chad Bowden got in con- tact with Smith at first. Wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey, who was in some contact with Smith while coaching at Baylor last year, started communicating with the three-star recruit as well. "They said that they liked what I was doing [as a senior] and to keep it up," Smith said. Notre Dame explained to Smith that they had someone else they had on their receiver board to potentially become its fourth pass catcher of the class, but if that didn't work out, then an offer would come Smith's way. We believe that player was Hayward (Calif.) Ten- nyson's Taeshaun Lyons. "And that's what happened," Smith noted. Smith announced on Twitter Nov. 4 that he picked up an offer from the Irish. Notre Dame was (and is) the second school to offer him. Georgia Tech, Texas A&M and USC showed interest in him, but didn't extend a scholarship. He officially visited Notre Dame that weekend and saw the Fighting Irish knock off previously unbeaten Clem- son, 35-14. " T h a t wa s i n sa n e ," S m i t h sa i d . "From the moment we got there, they laid out the red carpet for us. They made sure we had a great time. The whole environment was crazy in gen- eral." Smith announced his decision to commit to the Irish Dec. 1. "Originally, what I was basing my de- cision off of was the family and culture in the program, and I knew Texas Tech had that," Smith detailed. "But when Notre Dame came through, I had the opportunity to play for a young, Black head coach. There's such a prestige with Notre Dame with what it can do for you long term. "Coach Freeman kept telling me that if you come here for four years, it'll help set you up for life. That was huge." He gives the Irish four pass catchers in the class — including two others from the Lone Star State — joining Austin (Texas) Westlake's Jaden Greathouse, Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point's Bray- lon James and Folsom (Calif.) High's Rico Flores Jr. "They've said that I can play inside or outside," Smith said regarding his fit in the Irish offense. "My skill set com- pared to the other commits is that I can play more of the slot, and they really like that about me." Smith will sign with Notre Dame in December and enroll next summer. "I'm a nose-down, hard-worker, and I love to win," he said. "I'll do whatever it takes for the team, and I'm a competi- tor." Smith was named to the 2021 Texas District 5-5A Division I All-District second team and to the first team in 2022. He's also played baseball plus competed in track and field during his prep career. On3 ranks Smith as a three-star pros- pect and the No. 60 wide receiver in America. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE KALEB SMITH Notre Dame Flips Wide Receiver From Texas Tech FILM ANALYSIS "[Kaleb] Smith has a pretty well-rounded skill set at receiver. He had a very good senior year and looks to be a 'stock-up' prospect. It's not surprising in seeing how he's played this fall that Notre Dame has come after him at this late stage of the cycle. "In terms of his traits, he's tested well in the camp setting and shows explosion. From an athletic standpoint in a combine, he checks those boxes. And as a senior, one area that has really caught my eye is what he's done in the return game. He has multiple touchdown re- turns on punt and kickoff. Smith has good field vision, set up blocks and creates with the ball in his hands. That's a good indicator for a re- ceiver in terms of being good after the catch." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power Smith, a three-star prospect and the No. 60 wide receiver in America per On3, was committed to the Red Raiders before flipping his pledge to the Irish in December. PHOTO COURTESY KALEB SMITH "But when Notre Dame came through, I had the opportunity to play for a young, Black head coach. There's such a prestige with Notre Dame with what it can do for you long term." SMITH

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