As the NFL draft nears, USA TODAY High School Sports will look back at the high school careers and draft prospects for former American Family Insurance ALL-USA selections. Today’s installment features Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.
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High school: Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
ALL-USA history: Named to the American Family Insurance first team in 2012. He also won the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top high school linebacker and was named Mr. Football in the state of Indiana, playing for a four-time state 2A champions. As a senior, he had 72 tackles and eight sacks on defense and ran for 1,265 yards and 18 TDs (plus two more receiving touchdowns) on offense.
College: Notre Dame
Height, weight: 6-2, 240 pounds
By the numbers: Smith became the second linebacker to win both the high school and college Butkus Awards in his career, joining Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. He led Notre Dame in tackles in consecutive years with 112 as a sophomore and 113 as a junior.
Draft positives: Rangy defender and reliable tackler who will deliver a violent blow but also wrap up and show consistent mechanics. Stands blockers up and takes control. Frees himself from being locked up and finishes plays. Thinks, sees, and reacts fast. Easy movement in coverage is equally effective in both zone and man.
Cons: Tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl and teams will need to do additional medical screening. Could use more bulk and overall strength. Moved down from the first round due to injury.
Projection: Rounds 3/4
What he says: “It’s the game of football and (the injury) happened. I have not choice but to live with it. I’m just moving forward. That’s all I’m focused on. … The goal is (to play in 2016). I can’t tell when I’ll be back, but I’ll be back 100 percent.”
STATISTICS AT NOTRE DAME
Draft analysis by Dan Shonka, Ourlads.com