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Irish Insights


Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith continues to impress

Notre Dame linebacker and former Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith has continued to impress during his freshman season.

Smith recorded his first college interception in Saturday night's 14-10 home win over USC. Smith picked off a pass intended for the Trojans' Nelson Agholor, who had six catches for 89 yards against the Irish (5-2), on Notre Dame's 41-yard line with 13:47 to play in the thrid quarter.

"I was so excited for the kid," said Carroll linebacker Drue Tranquill, a Purdue commitment who has an offer from Notre Dame and was at Saturday's game. "Just growing up and training with him (at AWP Sports). I called (AWP Sports president and CEO Michael Ledo) right away, and I was like, 'Dang, Mike.' I tweeted it. I was so excited and happy for him. He has worked so hard. It is great to see guys have success like that."

Coach Brian Kelly is also happy to see the success Smith has had since the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder became the first freshman to start the season opener at outside linebacker since Kory Minor in 1995.

Smith has started every game for the Irish this season and has 31 tackles with 3 ½ tackles for loss, two pass breakups, the interception and forced one fumble.

"He's continuing to play with a lot more consistency," coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. "Zone coverage he continues to learn. He's had a mistake here or there in terms of zone fits. That's why we put a little bit more man with him. He's still learning there.

"But, no, we love the curve that he's on. I think every day's a learning experience for him, every game that he plays, he picks up the nuances. The big picture stuff he's grasping very well."