Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 15, 2014 Issue

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

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IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW OWENS F ormer Notre Dame defensive backs Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton started 25 games alongside each other in four years at Notre Dame, most re- cently during the entire 2011 season when Smith served as the team's cap- tain. Both were drafted in April 2012 by the Minnesota Vikings, which former Irish players jokingly refer to as "Notre Dame North" because of the organiza- tion's tendency to pluck players from South Bend. Smith, a first-round pick, has devel- oped a reputation as one of the NFL's hardest-hitting safeties. For Blanton, however, starting is a whole new ball- game. While Blanton now plays safety, his roots are at cornerback. During his four-year career at Notre Dame, he de- veloped into a reliable cover corner. "He's always just had a nose for the ball," Smith told reporters. "He just makes plays wherever you put him: corner, safety, he's made a ton of plays on special teams since he's been here. … The safety who has a lot of experi- A Dangerous Duo In August, Robert Blanton (right) earned a starting safety spot, and he will line up next to former Irish teammate Harrison Smith (left) in the Minnesota Vikings' secondary. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS

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