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Football

Jaylon Smith declares for NFL Draft

| Monday, January 11, 2016

Notre Dame junior linebacker Jaylon Smith announced he is declaring for the NFL Draft in a video released on his Twitter account Monday.

“I just want to thank everyone for really having my back and trusting my decision,” Smith said in the video.

Former Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith attempts to tackle Wake Forest running back during Notre Dame's victory over the Demon Deacons on at Notre Dame Stadium.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Former Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith lines up Wake Forest freshman running back Tyler Bell during Notre Dame’s 28-7 victory over the Demon Deacons on Nov. 14 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Smith joins receiver Will Fuller, offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, running back C.J. Prosise and cornerback KeiVarae Russell as players who will forego their final year of eligibility at Notre Dame and head to the NFL.

Smith suffered a torn ACL and LCL in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 but is expected to make a full recovery, per Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton. Smith was projected as a lock for a top-10 pick before his injury, according to multiple draft experts.

“It’s really just perseverance from here,” Smith said about his recovery in the video. “With the adversity I’m going through right now dealing with the knee injury, I have the same vision. It’s just a different path.”

Smith led the Irish defense with 114 tackles this season, including nine tackles for loss. He also had a sack, a forced fumble and five pass breakups.

Smith led the 2014 Irish squad with 112 tackles after placing third on the team with 67 tackles during his freshman season in 2013, finishing with 293 tackles for his career.

Smith has an insurance policy against his draft stock worth up to $5 million if he falls out of the first round, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The NFL Draft will be held April 28-30 in Chicago.

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