Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
April 26, 2012Harrison Smith figured it might be a good night when his family priest arrived.
The former Notre Dame safety didn't intend to throw a party during the NFL draft's first round on Thursday night, but as dozens of friends and family showed up at Smith's family home in Knoxville, Tenn., that's exactly what happened. One of Smith's old roommates showed up. So did his childhood guitar teacher and his personal trainer.
But the priest's appearance pushed expectations over the top.
"I figured it'd be a good night after that," Smith said. "It's crazy. I really wasn't trying to set any expectations. I told people I didn't know if I was going to go Thursday or Friday or Saturday. Then everybody just started showing up."
The Minnesota Vikings traded up to pick Smith at No. 29 overall in the first round, leaving just three selections to follow in Thursday night's primetime event. Smith became the highest selection of a Notre Dame defensive back since safety Jeff Burris went No. 27 overall in 1994, also the last time the Irish had multiple first round picks. Michael Floyd went No. 13 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.
Smith will reunite in Minnesota with former college teammates Kyle Rudolph, John Sullivan and John Carlson. Smith, Rudolph and Sullivan share agents and the three joked during the past two months about playing together again.
Smith knew that was going to be a reality before almost anyone else when he got a call from Minnesota even before the Vikings' trade with Baltimore was announced.
"The Vikings called me while the Packers were making their pick and I picked up the phone and they kept talking to me, telling me they were going to take me at No. 29," Smith said. "I know they liked how I played in the Senior Bowl. But they never called me before and said they were going to take me here or there.
"They liked how I went to work. I think having relationships there helped."
Smith said he doesn't know when he'll head to Minnesota or even what's next now that he's been selected. He laughed off a question about his next big purchase with a first round contract in his future. Smith said he just wanted to find a place to live in Minnesota and get some groceries.
The draft capped Smith's rollercoaster ride of a college career that featured two head coaches, two position switches and three defensive schemes.
But for all the tumult since Smith arrived in South Bend five years ago as a four-star athlete out of Knoxville Catholic, he flourished under Chuck Martin after Brian Kelly's arrival in South Bend. Smith posted 183 tackles the past two seasons to go with seven interceptions.
"I feel like I say this about a lot of things, especially looking back at my Notre Dame career, but I've always thought I was a very good player, a player a lot of people want to have on their team," Smith said. "I'm confident in my ability. Whether I had ups and downs or not, everybody does. You're never going to have everybody think you're the best. That's just how it is. People still knock Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
"It's surreal, but at the same time I believe in what I can do. I'm definitely not going to stop now. I'm ready to go to minicamp and get to work."
Notre Dame NEWS