Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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IN THE TRENCHES ANDREW OWENS S pend a few minutes watching Jaylon Smith in the center of Notre Dame's defense and you'll quickly realize just how critical he is to the entire unit. Even though he just began his second year on campus and even though he spent last spring learn‑ ing a new position, Smith is the glue that holds the Irish defense together. And he should be a Notre Dame captain in 2014. Some will dismiss the Fort Wayne, Ind., native as a realistic candidate be‑ cause he's only a sophomore, but he represents a unique situation. After so many players departed to the NFL from last year 's unit and with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder installing an entirely new scheme, the personnel received a fresh slate last spring. Even with the move to Will linebacker in his second year, Smith has consistently stood out in practice. There's not much precedent for sophomore captains at Notre Dame. Only once — Jack Mullen in the 1897‑99 seasons — has an Irish player filled that role three times in a career, which Smith would figure to do as‑ suming he stays all four years. Head coach Brian Kelly seemed The Right Fit On a team without a lot of obvious captain candidates, Notre Dame might want to try the unconventional move and recognize sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith's leadership. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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