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2013 Notre Dame Football Recruiting Class -- Linebackers

OFD continues on a journey to break down the 2013 football recruiting class on a position-by-position basis.

CBK gets a little excited about LBs.
CBK gets a little excited about LBs.
Stephen Dunn


Welcome to the fifth edition of the six part, in-depth series on the 2013 Notre Dame football recruiting class. I unveiled the OFD average grades for the newest members of the Fighting Irish family after National Signing Day.

For reference, here are the previous pieces:

2013 Recruiting Review--QB, RB, TE

2013 Recruiting Review--WR

2013 Recruiting Review--OL

2013 Recruiting Review--DL

This installment will focus on the linebackers: OLB Jaylon Smith, ILB Michael Deeb, and OLB Doug Randolph.

Here are a few comments from Coach Kelly. Well, maybe more than a few:

Coach Kelly Signing Day Press Conference (via NotreDameAthletics)

The transcript from Coach Brian Kelly's press conference on national signing day can be found here.

Official OFD Recruit Grading Scale:

95-100: Elite impact freshman with All-American potential

90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference potential

85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman

80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact

75-79: Likely a backup

70-74: Reach by the coaching staff

Note: All Height/Weight/40 times as listed on


OLB Jaylon Smith

(Fort Wayne, IN - Bishop Luers) - 6'3"/218/4.44

OFD Average: 97

Jaylon Smith Senior Highlights 2012 (via AWPSPORTS)

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Jaylon Smith out of Bishop Luers: Again, the 2012 Butkus Award winner. We could list all of these things, but the thing that's most impressive is the character of this young man and his energy. He just has it. When he walks into a room, the room kind of lightens up, and that's the kind of personality that he is, and he is one tough football player, as well. He's got all the things that you're looking for, that quickness, that ability to strike. He can play any position really. Great running back, as well. He'll play on the defensive side of the ball, and he's somebody that has great versatility. But he's also going to be a great leader here, and I see great things for Jaylon Smith.

Whiskey: 96

Smith is the best defensive recruit that Notre Dame has landed in years. He brings tremendous athleticism to the table and should be a significant contributor at the Dog linebacker position right away. CBK said on NSD that he expects Smith to compete with Danny Spond at Dog right away. There isn't much left to say about Smith other than the obvious. I expect a very significant contribution out of him over the course of the next few seasons.

Eric Murtaugh: 98

There's not much downside for our top defensive recruit in many years. Smith could definitely use some weight and he'll have to deal with a lot more physical players as a linebacker but he's so skilled and fast that it won't be a big problem as a freshman. He should be the long-term solution at Dog linebacker and the type of player that eats up tight ends and slot receivers in the short to intermediate passing game.

I can't wait to see where the coaching staff uses him as a freshman. They could move a vet like Spond inside and open up some playing time at Dog, use him as an edge rusher on passing downs, or even let him roam in the middle of the field as a nickel back. Elite burst, speed, and agility---Smith will be a dandy. It's silly how fast and athletic he is for his size and age.

4pointshooter: 96

alstein: 97

Jim Miesle: 97

As the others have said, Smith is the best defensive player to sign with the Irish since Manti Te'o. He earned the highest average grade from our panel, He is basically a safety in a linebacker's body, which is a scary combination for opposing offensive coordinators. The staff will figure out some way to utilize his rare combination of size and speed -so don't be surprised to see him play multiple positions over his career.


ILB Michael Deeb

(Ft. Lauderdale, FL - American Heritage) - 6'2"/237

OFD Average: 88

Michael Deeb Senior Highlights Committed to Notre Dame (via Michael Deeb)

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Michael Deeb: Again, I think sometimes when we talk about superlatives as it relates to stars and things of that nature, those are important, but we had eyes on Michael Deeb. Michael came here to our camp. We were able to observe Michael. Coach Diaco was able to spend time, and we know what we want from that position. We have a pretty clear understanding of the skill set necessary and the intelligence.

And here's what else he brings: He brings an energy to everything he does. When he walks in that locker room, it's time to play football, and if you're not locked in, he's going to make sure he says something to you. We love his energy, we love the way he plays the game, and obviously from our standpoint feel like he's a guy that can come in and obviously compete for us.

Whiskey: 88

Deeb is a true sleeper that I think has been very underrated as a prospect. The Anzalone drama stole the show as the inside backer recruiting "story" for this class while Deeb has quietly plugged along in the background. As the only true inside linebacker in this class Deeb will no doubt have an opportunity to contribute at either Mike or Will early in his career. As a side note the kid just looks really intense and I love that. Does anyone else think Deeb looks like Brian Urlacher?

Eric Murtaugh: 87

Deeb would easily be the OFD sleeper of this class as we've internally talked a lot about how underrated he is as a prospect. He didn't look like a great recruit when he first became a part of this class but he improved a ton as a senior to the point where he might see real minutes on defense in 2013.

Deeb's foot speed improved and that was my biggest knock on him last year. Overall he's much faster and will be a great fit at middle linebacker for the Irish. Best of all, this kid seems like a tireless worker who puts everything in to the game. I love having that from a recruit that we know is going to play middle linebacker. Height might be a little concerning but Deeb is a major steal.

4pointshooter: 86

alstein: 90

Jim Miesle: 89

I have been looking forward to Deeb to join the program since he verbally committed over the summer. At that time, scouts were not yet sold on him as a prospect. After a solid summer and senior season, the questions were answered, but the rankings didn't improve much. The lack of respect from the various scouts means the staff got a steal. After all, the kid just looks like a linebacker.


OLB Doug Randolph

(Woodberry Forest, VA - Woodberry Forest) - 6'3"/220/4.65

OFD Average: 88

Doug Randolph Senior Highlight Tape (via TheTurningPointND)

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Doug Randolph: Another great program at Woodberry Forest. Dual athlete, excellent lacrosse player, played basketball, can do a number of different things. He's somebody that's long at 6'3", very versatile, can stand up or put his hand down, he gives us that kind of flexibility at that position. Great student, great family.

I know I sound I keep saying the same things, but they're true. I mean, these are really this is why you're at Notre Dame. You get a chance to coach these kinds of kids, and he's a terrific young man. He's going to be a nice football player for us, as well.

Whiskey: 87

Randolph is a great athlete that brings a lot of versatility to the linebacker position. At 220lbs he is a little light to start with but the staff expects that he might contribute on the outside or on the inside if he is able to put on another 15-20 quality pounds. Some see Randolph as a Cat prospect but he will definitely need to add weight to do that

Eric Murtaugh: 89

He looks like a Jaylon-Smith light---great athlete with a huge burst of speed off the edge. He could make a great Dog linebacker but roster concerns might move him to middle linebacker which is fine as long as he puts on some weight.

Randolph has a great combination of speed and power. He's the type of athlete you wish Notre Dame could recruit 5 or 6 of every year. He'll bring some versatility and he reminds me a lot of Anthony Rabasa coming out of high school. Actually, the more I watch him play I think Randolph could be a great middle linebacker.

4pointshooter: 88

alstein: 89

Jim Miesle: 88

Randolph looks to be a natural fit for the Cat LB spot, but could end up sliding inside based on numbers. His high school highlights show off his pass-rushing and pocket collapsing ability. He has a similar size and frame to Prince Shembo. He is still a bit raw as far as skills go, but a year spent adding weight and learning the defense before making an impact in 2014.