The Minnesota Vikings selected safety Harrison Smith with the 29th overall pick tonight. Hayseed will join former Notre Dame teammates John Carlson, John Sullivan and Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota.
Smith is the highest drafted Notre Dame defensive player since Renaldo Wynn was drafted 21st overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997
He is also the highest drafted Notre Dame defensive back since Jeff Burriss was drafted 27th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1994.
Combined with teammate Michael Floyd, who went to the Arizona Cardinals with the 13th overall pick, this is the first time that Notre Dame has had two first round picks since 1994 when Burriss and Bryant Young were both selected in the first round. Young went 7th overall to the San Francisco 49ers.
With Floyd and Smith both being selected in the first round Notre Dame now boasts 63 all time first round picks.
I was really excited about Smith when he committed to Notre Dame out of Tennessee in 2006. He looked like a great athlete with a lot of upside. But his path at Notre Dame was not for the faint of heart.
As the 2009 campaign drew to a close Smith was having a rough go of it. He was coming off of a rough season that saw him bounce back and forth between safety and outside linebacker and none of us were expecting a miracle turnaround. But that's really what we got.
Brian Kelly walked in the door with a new staff and Harrison was one of the first players we heard about buying in during Camp Kelly. He worked as hard as anybody and Chuck Martin gave him the coaching that he deserved. The end result was two highly productive seasons for Smith that saw him become the heart of the Irish secondary.
Combined with his tremendous athleticism Smith's career ended much the way that we hoped it would when he first set foot on campus. He earned every bit of that 1st round pick tonight.
Go do great things at the next level 22. Just keep being you.