April 26, 2012
NEW YORK – Former University of Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith was selected with the 29th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and was the second Fighting Irish player taken in this year’s draft.
Notre Dame had two players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time since 1994 (three players were selected in first round in ’94). The Irish have had 63 players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Smith is the highest-drafted defensive player from Notre Dame since defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn was the 21st overall selection by Jacksonville in the 1997 draft. Smith is the earliest Notre Dame defensive back selected since Jeff Burris was taken with the 27th pick in the 1994 draft by Buffalo.
“Harrison Smith is one of the best leaders I’ve ever had on any of my teams,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “He is an intelligent and instinctual player on the field and a true student of the game off the field. He’ll be a great fit for Minnesota’s defense and I can’t wait to watch his long and successful pro career.”
Smith becomes the second Notre Dame player drafted by the Vikings in the last two years, joining tight end Kyle Rudolph (selected in second round and 43rd overall selection in 2011). Former Notre Dame center John Sullivan and tight end John Carlson are also on the Vikings.
Smith played both safety and linebacker at Notre Dame and finished his career with 309 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven interceptions, 28 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is the only player in Notre Dame history to register at least 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.
Smith ranks second in career pass breakups at Notre Dame and ninth in career tackles. He recorded 222 tackles as a safety, the fifth-most tackles by a Notre Dame defensive back. Smith started 47 of 51 career games played, including the last 38 games of his career and 46 of the last 47 games he appeared. He opened 15 contests as an outside linebacker and started 32 games at safety.
A starter at safety for every game over his final two seasons in 2010 and 2011, Smith tallied 183 tackles with 17 pass breakups, seven interceptions and three and a half tackles for loss.
Smith served as the Irish team captain in 2011, becoming the first lone captain of the Notre Dame football team since 1999 and only the fourth player to earn such an honor in the last 40 seasons of Notre Dame football. He started all 13 games and ranked second on the team with 90 tackles while pacing the Irish with 10 pass breakups. Smith led a defense that permitted fewer than 21 points per game for the second consecutive season, becoming the first Irish defensive group to accomplish that in successive seasons in a decade.
As a starter in all 13 games in 2010, Smith set career highs with 93 tackles and seven interceptions. He ranked fourth in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in interceptions and led the Irish in picks and pass breakups.
Smith was one of only three defensive players to start all 12 games for the Irish in 2009. He started the first six games at safety before moving to strong-side linebacker for the final six contests. Smith started nine of 13 games at linebacker in 2008 and led the team in tackles for loss (eight and a half) while tying for team-high honors in sacks (three and a half).
SMITH’S PLACE IN THE IRISH RECORD BOOKS
- Career Pass Breakups (2007-11, 28, 2nd)
- Career Tackles (2007-11, 309, 9th)
- Career Tackles By Defensive Back (2007-11, 222, 5th)
- Single-Season Interceptions (2010, 7, t-6th)
- Single-Season Pass Breakups (2011, 10, t-6th)
- Single-Season Tackles By Defensive Back (2010, 93, 5th)
- Single-Season Tackles By Defensive Back (2011, 90, 8th)
- Single-Game Interceptions (Dec. 31, 2010 VS. Miami, 3, t-1st)
— ND —