Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and named after actor Harrison Ford, Harrison Smith was a three-sport star in high school, a two-way player on the football field, and Gatorade Football Player of the year in Tennessee for 2006.
A four-star recruit, he turned down offers from the likes of Alabama and his hometown Tennessee Volunteers to come to South Bend and play for Charlie Weis. Redshirted as a freshman in 2007, he went on to have a major impact on the Irish defense for the next four seasons.
As a sophomore in 2008 he started at linebacker for 9 games and recorded 57 tackles including 8.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. The next season he split time between strong safety and linebacker and recorded 69 tackles including 6.5 for loss in 12 starts.
By his Senior season in 2010, now playing for Brian Kelly, he settled in at strong safety and was second only to Manti Te’o with 93 tackles and led the team with an impressive 7 interceptions.
Smith came back for a graduate season in 2011 and he again was second to Te’o, this time with 91 tackles including 3 for loss and 2 forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups. He was so respected by his teammates and the coaching staff so much that he was selected as that season’s only Captain, a rare honor in the modern era.
Smith’s impact on the Irish, particularly after settling in at the safety position was such that his ND position coach referred to him as, “a freak of nature”. He left Notre Dame as the only player ever to have recorded over 300 tackles, 15 pass breakups and 15 tackles for loss.
Smith went on to be a first round NFL draft pick in 2012 of the Vikings and is now in his 12th season in Minnesota. In 2017 Pro Football Focus gave Smith a rating of 98.8, the highest among safeties in the history of the rating. He has been named to 6 Pro Bowl teams and is widely considered to be among the best safeties in the NFL.
Harrison Smith, ND 2007-2011 : another ALL-TIME IRISH HERO.