SOUTH BEND – Jaylon Smith has made a similar impression on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as he has on his fellow Irish defensive players, click here for what players had to say about the former Bishop Luers star linebacker.
"Jaylon is a talented player from a tangible skills standpoint," Diaco said during Thursday's media day. "He also has a maturity about him in preparation that's beyond the typical freshman that comes in. He's very coachable. He's intently listening and trying to work on the things that we are coaching."
Diaco said Smith has a higher level of football intelligence than some other players.
"He can piece together a formation as it relates to a play," Diaco said. "He's not just waiting for the ball to snap to react to what he sees. He's at another level. It's not great yet, but he's in this mental process thinking about what could possibly happen against this surface. That's really a next level thought."
Smith came into Notre Dame as the highest rated prospect in the 2013 signing class.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder Smith had 75 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks as he helped lead Luers to a fourth straight Class 2A state title last season. Along with being named Mr. Football, he was named the Euell Wilson Award winner, given to the SAC's top football player; the High School Butkus Award winner, given to the nation's top linebacker; a captain at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and to the Parade All-American team.
"I'm not interested in heaping too much criticism on him, positive or negative," Diaco said. "I don't want to put any pressure on him. We are getting ready to start school here. Every day will be a new day for him.
"With his demeanor and approach and his coachability and his love for the game and his love for his teammates, you have the recipe that's going to equal a guy that is going to get better every day. He's not going to not get better."