Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 16 Cameron Smith, receiver
Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 203 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Graduate transfer from Arizona State with only one season of eligibility remaining.
Depth chart: This is more a speculative exercise than usual considering Smith is a veteran yet has not had the chance to practice so much as once with the Irish. Expect him to join the ranks as a slot receiver, otherwise known as the Z, battling junior C.J. Sanders for the right to back up sophomore Chase Claypool and perhaps be the first option should Notre Dame opt for a more traditional inside route runner than the 6-foot-4 Claypool. A similar description could — and likely will — be applied to Michigan graduate transfer Freddy Canteen.
Recruiting: A consensus three star-prospect, Smith chose Arizona State over Houston and Iowa back in 2013.
CAREER TO DATE
Notre Dame fans may remember Smith from his touchdown against the Irish in 2014, his sophomore year, during one of the more swing-filled games in recent memory. That four-catch, 67-yard afternoon was part of a career year and theoretically was a harbinger of good times to come before a knee injury cost Smith the 2015 season and limited his explosiveness last year.
2013: 11 games, nine starts, eight catches for 129 yards.
2014: 11 games, eight starts, 41 catches for 596 yards and six touchdowns.
2015: Out with a knee injury.
2016: Eight games, one start, 11 catches for 183 yards.
As much as a healthy Smith brings speed, when healthy, to the field, hampered or healthy he also brings Notre Dame a career’s worth of experience and the demeanor that should come with that. Irish coach Brian Kelly noted that perk when discussing roster changes before his annual Kelly Cares Foundation golf outing in June.
“Speed. The speed factor was No. 1 (with Smith),” Kelly said. “And then No. 2, the maturity level. We wanted to add two more really mature players. We have some really young players. We wanted mature mentors. At times last year, one of the issues was maturity, attention to detail, good habits.
“In [Canteen] and [Smith], we’ve got two guys that are very mature guys, good role models for some young players. From a skillset standpoint, the speed element, where [Smith] can really get over the top of defenses.”
WHAT WE WROTE UPON THE TRANSFER ANNOUNCEMENT
“Smith’s speed could land him at the slot, or Z, receiver position in [coordinator Chip] Long’s offense. Sophomore Chase Claypool projects as the current likely starter, but if Long, [receivers coach Del] Alexander and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly opt for a more prototypical blazer, Smith would seem to fit the bill, presuming health.”
Handing Smith a scholarship for a year is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward situation for the Irish. The scholarship was not going to be used, otherwise. The only risk he poses would be some form of locker room discord or other off-field distraction. If that were to arise, Kelly would presumably be quick with a dismissal. Then again, Alexander spent the last four years coaching Smith and Long was there alongside him for three of those four. They know him pretty well. If either thought such an issue was remotely possible, Smith probably would not have landed at Notre Dame.
On the flipside, Smith already knows Long’s offensive tendencies. Slipping into a familiar offensive approach should not take much time at all. Long may be most grateful for Smith’s on-field presence as the Irish learn to embrace an up-tempo offense. Smith is already used to it.
On an individual play basis, a need for speed still cannot be denied. Kelly has always preferred to have a threat ready to take the top off the defensive backfield at any moment. Sophomore receiver Kevin Stepherson may present that with top-end speed, but his acceleration could pale compared to Smith’s.
That speed may also be seen on special teams. During the spring, coordinator Brian Polian hoped for more players to be at his disposal. Smith had not yet even chosen Notre Dame yet then — he only graduated from Arizona State in April and publicly chose the Irish in June — but this summer he could quickly earn some goodwill by shining on Polian’s coverage units.
If, in the end, all Smith provides is some guidance for a young Irish receiver corps, that alone would be worth the year’s scholarship.
Early-enrolled freshman running back C.J. Holmes, No. 15, was set to satisfy your 99-to-2 needs today, but then Blue & Gold Illustrated’s Lou Somogyi noted a few numbers and number changes Notre Dame had provided BGI with for its annual preview issue. Whereas Smith wore No. 6 as a Sun Devil, he will add a vertical digit to that numeral while with the Irish. Holmes will have to wait until Sunday.
2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety