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Smith was a highly regarded recruit, choosing Notre Dame over Tennessee, Stanford and Auburn. After redshirting in 2007, he soon earned his way onto the field at both linebacker and safety in 2008 as a true freshman (9 starts), recording 57 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and 7 pass break-ups. Smith started all 12 games in 2009 as a sophomore at both linebacker and safety, finishing with 69 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass break-ups and 1 forced fumble.
He had his most productive season in 2010 as a junior (13 starts), finishing second on the team with 91 tackles and led the Irish with 7 interceptions (fourth in the FBS) and 7 pass break-ups. Smith returned in 2011 as a senior captain with 13 starts, recording 90 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and a career-best 10 pass break-ups, but didn't record a pick-off.
Smith is a hybrid linebacker/safety prospect with the build, straight-line speed and natural power to turn heads ... downhill defender whose shortcomings athletically are exposed in coverage. He is a much better player facing the action, struggling with his back to the ball. Smith is a frustrating prospect because he shows flashes with his natural skill and playmaking ability, but is too inconsistent against both the run and pass.
Smith is rough around the edges and is far from starting in the NFL because of his limitations in coverage and mental mistakes, but he should excel on special teams coverage with his closing and hitting ability ... an in-the-box safety prospect who will impress physically, but shouldn't be drafted in the top-75 picks on draft weekend.
Strengths: Looks the part with prototypical size and strength for a strong safety ... long arms with a filled-out frame. Extremely strong with natural power to make punishing hits. Physical striker who enjoys contact. Fills the run lanes hard and is a downhill athlete with an aggressive nature at the point of attack. Plays fast and closes in a flash with conviction and determination ... fast in pursuit. Makes plays at all levels of the field and has strong hands to make shoe-string tackles. Read/reacts quickly and does a nice job interpreting the eyes of the quarterback. Big-time competitor and leader, never giving up on plays ... goes hard at full speed. Very active pre-snap and shows natural awareness. Played both linebacker and safety in college with 47 career starts, showing steady improvement over his time in South Bend. Very productive at Notre Dame, leaving as the only player in school history to register more than 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass break-ups over his career ... finished with 307 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 28 pass break-ups.
Weaknesses: An upright athlete who lacks ideal body flexibility and natural explosion to hold up in coverage or space. Has tight hips and struggles to turn and quickly change directions ... plays stiff. Needs to be a more technically-sound tackler, often going for the knockout hit or forced fumble instead of wrapping up ... hits too high and loses leverage, allowing ballcarriers to pick up extra yards. Plays overaggressive and moves too fast for his eyes ... missed tackles in space and over runs plays. Has streaky instincts and doesn't see things as quick as he needs to. Still has a lot of developing to do. Needs to play under control and disciplined ... too many unnecessary facemask penalties on his record. Has poor footwork and feel in man coverage and is too hands-on when left on an island ... will attract pass interference penalties. Still made too many mistakes as a senior and didn't register an interception in 2011 after seven pick-offs in 2010.
NFL Comparison: Craig Steltz, Chicago Bears
-- Dane Brugler
The lone team captain for 2011, Smith led the secondary and ranked second on the team with 90 tackles and paced the Irish with 10 pass breakups in his senior season. He totaled 309 career tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, 28 pass breakups and seven interceptions in his Notre Dame career. Smith is the only player in school history to record at least 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.
Saw action in all 13 games in 2010 ... one of 11 players to start all 13 games for the Irish... joined LB Darius Fleming, CB Gary Gray, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE Ethan Johnson, ILB Manti Te'o and CB Darrin Walls as the only players on the defensive side of the ball to start all 13 games ... totaled 93 tackles on the season, including one-half tackle for loss (1 yard), seven interceptions (54 yards) and seven pass breakups ... ranked second on the team in total tackles, second in solo stops and third in assisted tackles ... led the team in interceptions and pass breakups ... ranked fourth in the FBS in interceptions per game (0.54) and total interceptions (seven) ... eclipsed 10 or more tackles in four different games (Michigan State, Stanford, Pittsburgh and Navy) ... registered four tackles, including three solo stops, in the victory over Purdue in the season opener ... collected nine tackles, including six solo stops, and one pass breakup against Michigan ... recorded another pass breakup and 10 more tackles at Michigan State ... eclipsed 10 or more tackles for the second straight game with 11 total stops, seven solo, versus Stanford ... made a pair of solo tackles and collected first career interception in the victory at Boston College ... all over the field in the victory over Pittsburgh ... made a career-best 13 tackles, registered a pair of pass breakups and collected an interception against the Panthers ... posted another a 10-tackle game against Navy ... had 10 tackles, three solo, versus the Midshipmen ... collected a pass breakup and six tackles, four solo stops, against Tulsa ... registered a highlight-reel interception and made seven tackles in the victory over Utah ... recorded season's only 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 USC ... registered three interceptions in the first half alone in the Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Miami (Fla.) ... the three interceptions not only equaled a school record, but also equaled the Sun Bowl record ... became the 14th Notre Dame player to accomplish that, the last being Shane Walton versus Maryland in 2002 ... the three interceptions was an Irish bowl game record ... bested Elmer Layden's school record of two picks set against Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl ... only two other players intercepted three passes in a single-game in 2010 - Jayron Hosley from Virginia Tech and Marco Nelson of Tulsa ... the seven interceptions not only ranked tied for the sixth-most in school history, but were the most for an Irish player since Walton had seven in 2002 ... selected by ESPN.com to its all-Bowl team ... recorded 820 snaps on defense, most of any defensive back and second most of any Irish defensive player.
One of only three defensive players to start all 12 games for Irish, joining safety Kyle McCarthy and linebacker Brian Smith ... started first six games at safety before moving to strongside linebacker for final six contests ... ranked third on team with career-best 69 tackles and tied for third on Irish with six and a half tackles for loss ... added four pass breakups and forced one fumble ... tallied six tackles including five solo stops in season opener against Nevada ... recorded career-high and team-best 11 tackles at Michigan, including one and a half tackles for loss ... registered seven tackles against Michigan State ... switched to linebacker against Boston College and responded with four tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble ... tied career high with two tackles for loss against Navy ... led Irish with nine tackles at Pittsburgh ... added one tackle for loss and one pass breakup against Panthers ... led front seven and was second on team with 11 tackles against Connecticut ... totaled 299:32 of playing time on defense and ranked 10th on team with 127 appearances on special teams.
Played in all 13 games for the Irish and started all but four contests (San Diego State, Michigan, Purdue and Hawai'i) ... ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 57 stops on the year, including eight and a half tackles for a loss ... recorded three and a half sacks on the year and had seven pass break-ups ... ranked fourth on the team in tackles, led the team in tackles for loss, tied for team-high honors in sacks and tallied second-most pass breakups ... recorded three tackles (all solo), including a tackle for a loss in his Irish debut vs. San Diego State ... made his first career start and tallied a six tackles (solo, five assists), including one for a loss against Michigan State ... amassed three tackles (two solos, assist) vs. Stanford ... also recorded his first career rush on a successful fake punt for 23 yards ... tied his then career high in tackles with six (three solos, three assists) including a tackle for a loss at North Carolina ... registered five tackles (three solos, two assists) in victory at Washington ... added his first two career sacks and also ran a fake punt 35 yards vs. the Huskies ... recorded five tackles (four solos, assist) including a tackle for a loss in his fifth career start vs. Pittsburgh ... amassed a career and team-high nine tackles (seven solos, two assists) including one for a loss at Boston College ... made two tackles (both assists) and assisted on a tackle for loss and a sack in the win against Navy ... registered seven tackles (five solos, two assists), a sack and two pass break-ups against Syracuse ... tallied three tackles (all solos) and added a pass breakup in regular season finale vs. USC ... credited with five tackles (all solos) and had two pass breakups in Hawai'i Bowl victory.
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.
Named to Super Southern 100 team for 2006 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of nine safeties … Gatorade player of the year in Tennessee for 2006 … rated 89th best prospect nationally by CSTV - and sixth nationally among safeties … listed as one of top 250 players nationally by Rivals.com, including seventh among Tennessee prospects and among top 25 nationally in athlete category … 2006 American General Tennessee Mr. Football Back of the Year in Class 3A … gained 1,340 yards rushing to go with 19 touchdowns as senior in 2006 at Knoxville Catholic High School in Knoxville, Tenn. … caught 23 passes for 453 yards and six TDs in '06 for Fighting Irish … also made 61 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and caused two fumbles on defense … averaged 14 yards per punt return as senior for team that finished 12-1 after unbeaten regular season and Tennessee Class 3A quarterfinal loss … helped '06 Knoxville Catholic team average 37 points per game … named 2006 Tennessee Class 3A all-state defensive back by Tennessee Sports Writers Association and by Tennessee Football Coaches Association … named East Tennessee High School Football Player of the Year for '06 by the Lawrenceburg (Tenn.) Quarterback Club … named to Nashville Tennessean Dream Team for '06 as safety … rushed for 1,312 yards and had 446 receiving yards (32 catches) with 23 combined TDs as junior in 2005 on Knoxville Catholic team that ended up 11-2 … intercepted five passes, returning two for TDs, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles in '05 and also made 87 tackles (11 for loss) at safety slot … earned Tennessee Class 3A first-team all-state honors as junior from Tennessee Sports Writers Association … one of top 33 running backs on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … rated 46th best overall prospect in Southeast on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports … helped Knoxville Catholic to unbeaten regular season as sophomore in 2004 and final 10-1 record … made four tackles for West squad in MSL Events' East Meets West all-star game in January 2007 in Orlando … also played basketball … played for coach Mark Pemberton at Knoxville Catholic.
Born Feb. 2, 1989 … full name is Harrison J. Smith … parents are Steven and Susan Smith.
Draft Scout Player News
12/26/16 - FS Harrison Smith returned after missing two games because of an ankle injury, But he was ineffective and slower than normal. He had only four tackles.
12/23/16 - S Harrison Smith (ankle) is listed as questionable for the Christmas Eve game against the Green Bay Packers. He missed the last two games but was a full participant in Friday's practice.
12/22/16 - FS Harrison Smith returned to the field Thursday for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the Dec. 1 loss to the Cowboys. "He moved pretty good," said coach Mike Zimmer, who listed Smith as having had limited participation in Thursday's short outdoor practice, the final one before Saturday's must-win game at Green Bay. Look for Smith, a Pro Bowl selection for the second straight year, to play, which will be a huge boost over undrafted second-year player Anthony Harris.
12/21/16 - FS Harrison Smith, who has missed the last two games because of an ankle injury, did not practice again on Wednesday. He was stretching with the team before practice, a sign that he's closer to being ready to play and was walking without a limp. Smith probably will have to practice Thursday to have any chance of being cleared to play.
12/19/16 - FS Harrison Smith missed his second straight game because of an ankle injury. Coach Mike Zimmer said last week that it wasn't season-ending.