Decked out in University of Notre Dame gear, Jaylon Smith jumped at the idea of starting as a Fighting Irish freshman this fall.
The Bishop Luers High School senior signed his letter of intent Wednesday to continue his career at Notre Dame. Earlier in the day, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the best 11 will start, even if one of those 11 is a freshman.
“I will be amongst the best 11,” Smith said. “That's all confidence and work ethic. I have a lot of respect from the guys already up there and it's about getting up there and earning that respect.”
Smith earned multiple accolades during his four-year career at Bishop Luers, where he helped lead the Knights to Class 2A state championships all four years. He was named Indiana's Mr. Football and won the prestigious Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker.
He said Notre Dame's undefeated regular season and berth in the BCS National Championship game – where the Irish lost to Alabama – helped reinforce his decision to play at Notre Dame. Smith's older brother, Rod, plays at Ohio State.
“(Notre Dame) didn't win the national title, so that's something we have a chance to do,” Smith said. “I'm just looking forward to the opportunity. …I picked Notre Dame for everything it stands for, not only football but education and the great people you surround yourself with. I'm just glad to be part of the family.”
Smith said he is eager to begin the next phase of his football career.
“It was a joyful sad, knowing my last game (in high school) was going to be that state game; I was shedding tears and things like that,” he said. “It's an amazing experience to play high school football and to be able to carry that on to the collegiate level. I can't wait to get up there.”