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Smith named nation’s top linebacker, earns first-team All-American honors

| Monday, December 14, 2015

The short list of accomplishments and honors Jaylon Smith has yet to earn got a little shorter last Tuesday, when he was named the winner of the Butkus Award, given annually to college football’s top linebacker.

Irish junior linebacker Jaylon Smith lines up a tackle during Notre Dame’s 28-7 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 14.Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish junior linebacker Jaylon Smith lines up a tackle during Notre Dame’s 28-7 win over Wake Forest at Notre Dame Stadium on Nov. 14.

Smith led the Irish in tackles this season, with 113, which ranks him 22nd in the FBS. He also recorded nine tackles for loss, five pass breakups, six quarterback hits, one forced fumble and two recovered fumbles.

Smith is the second Irish linebacker to win the award, both in the past four years, alongside Manti Te’o in 2012. Notre Dame is now one of eight programs to win the trophy two or more times since it was first awarded in 1985.

USA Today also released its All-American teams Tuesday, and Smith garnered first-team honors. Senior defensive lineman Sheldon Day, who leads Notre Dame with 14.5 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hits, joined him on the top squad.

Receiver Will Fuller earned second-team All-American status after a junior campaign in which he caught 13 touchdown passes, tied for sixth in the country, and racked up 1,145 yards at a 20.4 yard per catch average, both of which rank 15th in the NCAA.

Smith was also on the first team of the Associated Press All-American squad released Sunday, as well as the Walter Camp Football Foundation squad released last Thursday.

Day was named second-team All-American by the AP, while Fuller also received second-team honors.

Senior offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley was the third Irish player to land on the AP’s second team, but he garnered first-team honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

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