Notre Dame junior Jaylon Smith, who starred at Bishop Luers in Fort Wayne, Ind., became the second player to win both the high school and college versions of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker Tuesday.
Smith was a member of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA first team as a high school senior in 2012 and played in the U.S. Army All-American Game. He was named Mr. Football in Indiana and recorded eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He also was the team’s star running back as Luers won the state 2A title.
Smith was presented his college award in a surprise ceremony at Notre Dame practice attended by Dick Butkus and his son, Matt.
This season at Notre Dame, Smith led the team with 113 total tackles (68 solos) and led the team with five pass breakups. He is third with nine tackles for loss.
Smith joins Notre Dame product and close friend Manti Te’o, who won the Butkus Award while with the Irish and at the Punahou School in Honolulu.
In announcing Smith’s honor, the selection committee said, “Jaylon Smith is an exceptional athlete with the instincts, explosion and striking ability that can tilt the field. He can rush the passer, cover receivers and consistently makes his presence felt all over the field against the run. He’s an impact player who leads by example and is as talented as any college linebacker to win the award the last decade.”