Smith's commitment strengthens big spring

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
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When the names "Jimmy Clausen" and "Manti Te'o" are brought up in comparison, you know Notre Dame had a good weekend.

Whether "Jaylon Smith" is a bigger name than either is a debate for another time -- like, in five years. For now the Irish can rejoice in the news they got from the four-star linebacker Saturday at the inaugural R.A.S. Football Camp, where Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) announced that he'll be heading 90 minutes West, to South Bend, next year.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Smith is a huge get for the Irish. He is ESPN's No. 46 overall player in the Class of 2013, is its No. 3 linebacker in the nation, and is the state of Indiana's top prospect. He will arrive just as Te'o is leaving, after he is done playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next January.

Perhaps most importantly, between now and then he may go to work as an extension of Notre Dame's staff, saying he will sell the program to top uncommitted prospects Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) and Vernon Hargreaves (Tampa, Fla./Wharton). Anzalone is a four-star outside linebacker, ESPN's No. 65 overall prospect. Hargreaves? He's a five-star corner, No. 4 overall.

On Sunday, uncommitted linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield), who currently has the Irish second behind Ohio State, didn't shy away from the potential impact of having Smith in South Bend. Insider

"They just got Jaylon Smith on defense, and that defense is about to be really good," Garrett said. "They have a great defensive scheme, they send a lot of players to the NFL and that's my No. 1 goal. I'm trying to get to the NFL, so I feel like they can help me if I go to that school."

A slow winter and disappointing end to the 2012 recruiting season have given way to a strong spring -- one punctuated by the commitment of a prospect who immediately had his name thrown around with those of the great Notre Dame pledges of recent history.

Here is Notre Dame's 13-man 2013 recruiting class, which consists of 11 four-star prospects and three ESPN 150 players. (*)

Matt Fortuna | email

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