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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | Grad Transfer Kaleb Smith

December 21, 2022

The high school recruits are grabbing all of the attention this week, but Notre Dame just landed a good player at a position of need in the portal.

Virginia Tech transfer Kaleb Smith led the Hokies in receiving last year and was a captain for them. He was one of the few bright spots on their team.

The Irish need numbers at the wide receiver position, but they are getting more than an extra body in Smith. They just landed a a big target who can make the quarterback’s job easier.

Where he fits and who he is

At 6’2” 222, Smith is going to compete at the boundary for the Irish. He averaged 18.2 yards per reception last season primarily because of his ability to win 50/50 balls.

He finished 9 of 12 on contested targets last season and had seven receptions of 20-yards or more. He does a very good job of tracking the football over his shoulder and knows how to play physically to create subtle separation at the catch point.


He can be a weapon on back shoulder throws because he adjusts well to the football.


Smith is willing to take the punishment over the middle of the field and in an offense that will be looking for consistent options on 3rd down, he can provide that.


What he’s not

I know he had an 85-yard touchdown against NC State, but that’s not something that should be a regular expectation for him.

He’s not a burner. He can be a threat on vertical routes, but he’s not going to blow by people.

Smith is also not a huge threat after the catch. He’s not someone who has shown he can make defenders miss often and he’s not the kind of dynamic presence who can turn a short throw into an explosive play.

What to expect

Smith made a significant jump during the 2022 season and he showed he has developed into a quality player. He’s someone who would have definitely started at the boundary receiver position for Notre Dame last fall.

It should be a much more competitive position this fall so there is no guarantee he is going to start there in 2023. He’ll have to contend with players like Deion Colzie, Tobias Merriweather, and true freshman Jaden Greathouse, so the path to playing time isn’t as clear as it would be at many programs.

With that being said, Smith sets a very high floor for the position and he didn’t exactly have elite quarterback play helping him out at VT. There’s a chance he makes another jump and at the very least he immediately makes the Notre Dame passing game stronger with him on the roster.

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