Jaylon Smith may only be 23 years old, but has accomplished a great deal so far – and he’s adding to it this weekend.
Smith, who left Notre Dame after his junior season to pursue an NFL career, will return to South Bend to receive his degree. Smith took 21 hours this past semester to earn his diploma.
Smith, a Bishop Luers High School grad, will be entering his fourth year in the NFL this fall. After suffering a knee injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game in 2016 he was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. After sitting out his first season to rehab, Smith was a part-time starter in 2017 then ascended to a much bigger role in 2018. Last fall he started all 16 games and racked up 121 total tackles, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries (returning one for a touchdown). Smith was named a finalists for the NFL’s Butkus Award, which goes to the league’s top linebacker.
Smith had played his first three seasons in Dallas with his older brother, Rod, as a teammate. However, Rod Smith became a free agent after the 2018 season and recently signed with the New York Giants. It means the Smith brothers will go head-to-head in the NFC East twice next season.