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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | ND Lands Grad Transfer DT Chris Smith

April 5, 2022
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Even before Aidan Keanaaina suffered an ACL injury this spring, defensive tackle depth was a question mark for the 2022 Fighting Irish. The defense was going to be put into a position where they were going to have to rely on some inexperienced players for snaps.

That’s much less of a worry now with the addition of graduate transfer Chris Smith. The former Harvard player was an All-Ivy League selection at defensive tackle in 2021. He didn’t play in 2020 due to the Ivy League season being canceled because of the pandemic, but he made a significant impact in the 2019 season as well.

He had a top-5 grade at his position in FCS in 2019 and was 4th in pass rush win percentage. Last season he was graded 17th in the country at defensive tackle.

Watching him, the player he actually reminds me of is Kurt Hinish. Neither of them have ideal NFL measurables, but much like Hinish, Smith plays with the force of a man who is bigger than 6’2” 300.

Here he is at 1-tech, a spot where he would project to play at Notre Dame. He attacks with great leverage and is able to bully the guard before getting in on the tackle.

via GIPHY

He has shock in his hands. He doesn’t have long arms so he has to not only win with a quick first step, but also with quick hands that establish control of the blocker like on this play where he penetrates into the backfield.

via GIPHY

Smith has a nice arm over move he uses to shoot gaps like on this particular play. When guards or centers are worried about a defensive tackle beating them to the punch, they become susceptible to a move like this.

via GIPHY

One area where I think he is better than Hinish is lateral quickness. He is so quick with his lateral step working from a 3-tech to the inside shoulder of the guard. Smith crosses the guard’s face and then makes the play.

via GIPHY

I really like this addition for Notre Dame. I think he is going to be in the rotation and be a valuable contributor. For a player his size, he has the right kind of traits that can help him succeed in moving up a level in competition.

Hinish was a warrior and a guy who played above his talent-level in big spots. Time will tell if Smith can measure up to that, but I think he can be a good player for the Irish and this immediately eases some concerns about defensive tackle depth this fall.

 
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