Draft in-depth: S Harrison Smith

For the past few weeks, Harrison Smith has become a prospect of interest among Vikings fans. We've now been told he's also of interest to the Vikings. Get the lowdown on strengths and weakness, his versatility and his production during his days at Notre Dame.

Harrison Smith
Strong Safety/Outside Linebacker
University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#22
6:01.7-213
Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville Catholic High School

OVERVIEW

Smith is the consummate team player who is also very opportunistic, utilizing his reach, timing and natural hands to excel when playing the ball in the air. He is a smart player who is sometimes overlooked because he is much more consistent than flashy, drawing favorable comparisons to San Diego Chargers Eric Weddle.

Smith would have been a perfect fit for the old Buddy Ryan system the coach incorporated while running the defense during their Super Bowl season, as you can see he has the range and competitiveness to not only interchange at both safety positions, but has the muscular build and power to be highly effective as a Cover-2 linebacker.

Smith has a quick break to get to the thrown ball and he shows fearlessness stretching out to get to the ball at its high point, evident by his 28 pass deflections and seven interceptions for the Fighting Irish. He is like a quarterback on the field for the defense, as he knows everyone's assignments and makes sure the rest of his teammates are in position to make the play. His take-charge attitude was highly displayed during his senior year, as he took the "kid gloves" off and did not hesitate to get vocal when a player would make a mental error.

Smith is an impressive-looking athlete, with a V-shaped torso, thick chest, broad shoulders, muscular arms, large hands, good bubble, thick thighs and calves, along with room on his frame to bulk up even more without losing any quickness. He is the type that does everything the coaches ask, is a workout warrior and pushes others when they see his work ethic. The transition from one coaching staff under Charlie Weis to the new regime under Brian Kelly succeeded because Smith took over the locker room.

His take-charge attitude would not have worked without his own success on the field. He has worked hard on his pass defense skills and converted from a player whose success relied on stepping up into the box to one that has no problems mirroring receivers in the deep portion of the field.

Smith is quick to react to the action in front of him, stepping up to plug the rush lanes or disrupt the action in the backfield, as he's produced 19 stops behind the line of scrimmage for the Irish. It is rare to see him caught out of position, as he is not the type to peek into the backfield too long or bite on misdirection and play action.

With better production from the Notre Dame "front seven," the free safety has had more opportunities to lay back and play centerfield, as he has good timing to make the play on the ball, along with the range to cover ground in a hurry. Even though he has had more zone assignments the last two years, he is still quick to support vs. the run, showing good explosion when closing.

In the short-to-intermediate passing game, Smith has the height and speed (4.58 in the 40-yard dash) to match up vs. any tight end, running back or receiver. He has developed into a big hitter who can blow opponents up if he's on track, producing 183 tackles over the last two seasons.

Smith does a good job of breaking down, facing up and wrapping, staying low in his pads to impede the forward progress of the ball carrier after the initial hit. He enjoys stepping up and taking on lead blockers, having good success when asked to plug the rush lanes. He shows a good feel for the support lanes and will generally take good angles to get to the ball.

The safety uses his hands effectively to shed blocks and will not hesitate to throw himself into the pile to sniff out the ball. He is also an effective blitzer who can come off the edge with explosion or use his club and rip moves to shed, stack and control to shoot the inside gaps.

The Knoxville Catholic High School product was one of the most coveted recruits in the nation as a senior. Schools first became aware of his ability when he helped his team to an unbeaten regular season as sophomore in 2004 and a final 10-1 record. As a junior, the safety/running back rushed for 1,312 yards and had 446 receiving yards (32 catches) with 23 combined touchdowns in 2005 on a team that ended up 11-2.

That year, Smith intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and made 87 tackles (11 for loss). He earned Tennessee Class 3A first-team all-state honors as junior from Tennessee Sports Writers Association and was rated the 46th- best player in the Southeast by The Sporting News.

In 2006, Smith was named to the Super Southern 100 team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and selected the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee. He was rated the seventh-best prospect in the state by Rivals.com and chosen the American General Tennessee Mr. Football Back of the Year in Class 3A.

Smith gained 1,340 yards rushing to go with 19 touchdowns as a senior. He also caught 23 passes for 453 yards and six scores. On defense, he made 61 tackles, two for loss, had two interceptions and caused two fumbles. He averaged 14 yards per punt return and helped Knoxville Catholic reach the Tennessee Class 3A quarterfinals, picking up Class 3A all-state defensive honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and the Tennessee Football Coaches Association.

The four-star recruit enrolled at Notre Dame in 2007, spending the season with the scout team while maintaining freshman eligibility. He played in 13 games in 2008, lining up at weakside inside linebacker for two games before shifting to the outside for the rest of the schedule. He posted 57 tackles with 3.5 sacks and 8.5 stops for loss. He also broke up seven pass attempts and in brief offensive action, the former prep tailback gained 58 yards on two carries.

One of only three players to start all 12 games for the Irish in 2009, Smith lined up at free safety for the first six games before shifting to strongside linebacker. He finished third on the team with 69 tackles, including 6.5 stops for loss. He also caused a fumble and surprisingly, all four of his pass deflections came at linebacker, rather than at safety.

With Brian Kelly now the head coach, the staff felt the need to keep Smith at one position. Feeling that his best success would be in the secondary, he started all 13 games at free safety in 2010. His seven interceptions were the most by an Irish player in a season since 2002 and are tied for sixth on the school season-record list. He also deflected seven passes.

Smith ranked 18th in the nation in passes defended and his pass theft total was good for fourth in the major college ranks. He also placed second on the squad with a career-high 93 tackles, as 34 of his stops came on third-down plays.

In his final season, the team captain continued his assault on receivers that dared to come into his territory. While he failed to get an interception, he led the Irish with 10 pass deflections. The second-team All-American choice nearly matched his junior numbers, as he produced 90 tackles (53 solos) with three stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2011.

CAREER NOTES
Smith started 47 of 51 games during his Notre Dame career – 32 at free safety, seven at weak-side outside linebacker, six at strong-side outside linebacker and two at weak-side inside linebacker. … Recorded 309 tackles (187 solos) that included 3.5 sacks for minus 26 yards, 18.5 stops for losses of 61 yards and three quarterback pressures. … Caused two fumbles and recovered another. … Gained 54 yards on seven interceptions and deflected 28 passes. … Also carried twice for 58 yards. … Ranks ninth in school history with his 309 total tackles (fifth among defensive backs, making 22 there as a safety). … His 93 tackles in 2010 rank fifth on the season-record list for defensive backs, while his 90 tackles in 2011 rank eighth on that chart. … Second in school annals with 28 pass deflections, topped by only Clarence Ellis (32; 1969-71). … His 10 pass break-ups in 2011 rank fourth on the Irish season-record check list. … Tied for sixth on the annual record list with seven interceptions in 2010. … His three interceptions vs. Miami in the 2010 Sun Bowl set the school and Sun Bowl postseason game record.

2011 SEASON
Smith earned second-team All-American and first-team All-Major Independent honors from The NFL Draft Report. … Recipient of Notre Dame's Nick Pietrosante Award, presented each year to the Notre Dame player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-American fullback. … Started all 13 games at free safety, deflecting 10 passes while finishing second on the team with 90 tackles (53 solos) that included three stops for losses of 9 yards and a quarterback pressure. … Caused and recovered a fumble. … Became the 11th player in school history to record 300 tackles in a career, accomplishing the feat in the Stanford clash. … Leader of a secondary that allowed just 205.77 aerial yards per game, the lowest average for any season that Smith wore an Irish uniform.

2010 SEASON
Smith started all 13 games at free safety for the Irish, finishing second on the team with a career-high 93 tackles (56 solos), which rank fifth on the school season-record list for defensive backs. … Tied for sixth on the Irish annual record chart and ranked fourth in the nation with seven interceptions for 54 yards in returns. … It was the most pass thefts in a season by an Irish player since Shane Walton in 2002. … On the field for 820 defensive snaps, as he also deflected seven passes. … His total of 14 passes defended ranked 18th in the nation. … Eclipsed 10 or more tackles in four different games (Michigan State, Stanford, Pittsburgh and Navy). … Collected nine tackles, including six solo stops, and one pass breakup vs. Michigan. … Had a pass break-up and ten tackles at Michigan State. … The junior eclipsed at least 10 tackles for the second straight game with 11 total stops, seven solo, vs. Stanford. … Made a pair of solo tackles and collected first career interception in the victory at Boston College. … Added 13 tackles, registered a pair of pass break-ups and collected an interception vs. Pittsburgh and posted another a 10-tackle game vs. Navy. … Registered a highlight-reel interception and made seven tackles in the victory over Utah. … Recorded a tackle for loss and totaled five overall stops in the triumph over Army at Yankee Stadium. … Made six overall tackles, including five solo stops, registered a pair of pass breakups and collected an interception deep in Irish territory with only 36 seconds remaining that clinched the victory over Southern California. … Had three interceptions in the first half alone in the Sun Bowl victory over Miami, as the three interceptions not only equaled a school record, but also equaled the Sun Bowl record, as he became the 14th Notre Dame player to accomplish that, the last being Shane Walton vs. Maryland in 2002. The three interceptions was an Irish bowl game record, topping Elmer Layden's school bowl record of two picks set vs. Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.

2009 SEASON
One of only three defensive players to start all 12 games for Irish, Smith manned the free safety position for the first six games before shifting to strong-side outside linebacker for the second half of the schedule. … Finished third on the team with 69 tackles (39 solos), as he had 6.5 stops for losses of 12 yards, two pressures, a forced fumble and four pass deflections.

2008 SEASON
Smith played in all 13 games, starting nine contests while coming off the bench vs. San Diego State, Michigan, Purdue and Hawaii). … Started at weak-side inside linebacker vs. Washington and Boston College before shifting to weak-side outside linebacker. … Came up with 57 tackles (39 solos), 3.5 sacks for minus 26 yards and 8.5 stops for losses of 39 yards. … Deflected seven passes. … Ran for a 23-yard gain on a fake punt vs. Stanford and picked up 35 yards on another fake punt while posting two sacks of QB Jake Locker in the Washington contest.

2007 SEASON
Did not see the field as a reserve safety his freshman season. … Helped prepare the first-team offense during the season by playing on the look team in practice.

INJURY REPORT
No major injuries reported.

AGILITY TESTS
4.58 in the 40-yard dash. … 1.58 10-yard dash. … 2.57 20-yard dash. … 4.14 20-yard shuttle. … 6.64 three-cone drill. … 34-inch vertical jump. … 10'2" broad jump. … Bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times. … 32 5/8-inch arm length. … 10 ¼-inch hands. … 76 7/8-inch wingspan. … 27 Wonderlic score.

HIGH SCHOOL
Smith attended Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic High School, playing football for head coach Mark Pemberton. … As a junior, the safety/running back rushed for 1,312 yards and had 446 receiving yards (32 catches) with 23 combined touchdowns in 2005 on a team that ended up 11-2. … That year, Smith intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and made 87 tackles (11 for loss). … Earned Tennessee Class 3A first-team all-state honors as junior from Tennessee Sports Writers Association and was rated the 46th- best player in the Southeast by The Sporting News. …
In 2006, Smith was named to the Super Southern 100 team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and selected the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee. … Rated the seventh-best prospect in the state by Rivals.com and chosen the American General Tennessee Mr. Football Back of the Year in Class 3A. … Smith gained 1,340 yards rushing to go with 19 touchdowns as a senior. … Also caught 23 passes for 453 yards and six scores. … On defense, he made 61 tackles, two for loss, had two interceptions and caused two fumbles. … Averaged 14 yards per punt return and helped Knoxville Catholic reach the Tennessee Class 3A quarterfinals, picking up Class 3A all-state defensive honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and the Tennessee Football Coaches Association. … Also lettered in basketball.

PERSONAL
Smith graduated from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in Management-Entrepreneurship. … Son of Susan and Steven Smith. … Born Harrison J. Smith on 2/02/89. … Resides in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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