SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame linebacker and former Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith is in a new world.
Smith no longer has to worry about offensive duties like he did when playing running back with the Knights. Now he can focus solely on defense and mastering the outside linebacker position he is asked to play for the No. 22 Irish (3-1), who play host to No. 14 Oklahoma (3-0) on Saturday.
Smith said Wednesday, the first day he was made available for interviews this season, that former Irish linebacker Danny Spond has been a big help with him learning his position.
Smith was elevated to starter in part because Spond had to stop playing before his senior season because of severe migraines.
"I'm really just learning and learning from Danny," Smith said. "Him just teaching me the ins and outs, how to read runs and pass, is something that has improved my game."
Smith has 11 tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup in four games, and he said he knows he is not a finished product.
"I think I'm on the right track," Smith said. "I'm really just worried about tomorrow and continuing to stay healthy. It's a 12- to 13-week season, it's something that I've been quite used to, winning four (Class 2A) state championships (at Luers), but it's a different level. You have to go hard every play here."
He said the biggest adjustment he's needed to make has less to do with football and more to do with being a college student.
"As a college-student athlete, there's a lot of things going on," Smith said. "You just have to stay focused."
For more on Smith, read Thursday's Journal Gazette and return to "Irish Insights" for the Smith file as the linebacker reacts to stories about his past.