Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 9, 2013 Issue

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 3 of 104

Upon Further Review todd D. burlage I The Irish Freshmen Are Making An Immediate Impact rish freshman Jaylon Smith is a great football player. That's a given. Rated as the top outside linebacker and fitfh-best high school recruit in the country after last season, Smith was labeled the best defensive arrival at Notre Dame since ... well, how about 2012 consensus All-American Manti Te'o four years ago? Smith's start Saturday against Temple marked the first time a Notre Dame freshman has started a season opener at linebacker since Kory Minor in 1995 — the year Smith was born. Not even ensuing future NFL Irish linebackers such as Anthony Denman, Rocky Boiman, Courtney Watson or Te'o can make the claim of being a first-game starter. With a gameday to-do list that includes pass coverage, run stoppage and the occasional pass rush, "dog" linebacker is the most complex position in the Irish 3-4 defense, and one that Smith appears to have on lock down for at least the next three seasons. "The way he comes to work every day, he's a leader-by-example guy," said 247Sports national recruiting writer and analyst Steve Wiltfong. "He'll eventually be the face of the program. He's going to be fantastic." Smith is the headliner of an Irish freshman class that featured eight players on the two-deep chart for the season opener, and a 23-man group Isaac Rochell, a 6-3½, 280-pound defensive end from Georgia, was one of eight first-year players on Notre Dame's initial two-deep depth chart of the season. photo by joe raymond already poised to become one of the best Irish recruiting classes in at least the last 20 years, even with the defection of five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes. This freshman class — ranked No. 5 by 247Sports for the 2013 recruiting cycle — is equal parts talent, maturity, dedication and honor. "They have a great respect for the game and a great respect for their teammates. There's no trash talking. It's not about themselves; it's about their team," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, a refreshing assess-

Articles in this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 9, 2013 Issue