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Notre Dame Football: Why Durham Smythe Is Hidden Gem of Irish's 2013 Class

Durham Smythe does not have as many accolades as several of Notre Dame's top commits, but he could be a hidden gem in a very deep class. Photo courtesy of 247Sports.
Durham Smythe does not have as many accolades as several of Notre Dame's top commits, but he could be a hidden gem in a very deep class. Photo courtesy of 247Sports.
Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IIFebruary 6, 2013

Everyone in South Bend, Indiana, knows 5-star prospects Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield and Greg Bryant will make an immediate impact for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but 4-star tight end Durham Smythe (Belton, Texas) is an underrated prospect who could turn some heads over the next four years.

Smythe chose the Fighting Irish over the Michigan Wolverines and Stanford Cardinal on Jan. 27, during an official visit to campus. On Wednesday, Smythe made everything official by faxing his national letter of intent to head coach Brian Kelly:

.@ndjacknolan just announced that Durham Smythe's fax just came in #SigningDayND #GoIrish twitter.com/NDFootball/sta…

Notre Dame has produced a number of outstanding tight ends throughout the years, including departing first-team All-American Tyler Eifert

The nation's No. 8-ranked tight end could become the next great player at the position for the Fighting Irish.

Eifert's backups, rising juniors, Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack, combined to haul in only eight receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown, so the competition for the top spot on the depth chart appears to be wide open.

The main thing separating Smythe from fellow incoming freshmen tight ends Mike Heuerman and Jacob Matuska is his combination of size, quickness and blocking skills.

The 6'6", 230-pounder will need to add a little bit of extra bulk to his frame once he gets on campus, but Smythe already has the natural skills to make an immediate impact in the passing game.

Kelly had this to say about Smythe earlier today:

Kelly on tight end Durham Smythe: "Will be a big player for Notre Dame, but also has the soft hands and the ability to run routes."

— Angelo Di Carlo (@angdicarlowndu) February 6, 2013

The ability to be a threat as a receiver and a blocker is what separates a good tight end from a great one though, and Smythe has no problems in that regard.

According to his scouting report from ESPN.com, Smythe "displays some tenacity as a blocker and will work to sustain and finish." Although his technique will need a bit of fine-tuning, Smythe's long frame and strength will allow him to get away with some mistakes early in his career.

Notre Dame fans should keep an eye out for Smythe on the depth chart as the season-opener approaches, because the Belton High School star is going to make a push for early playing time in 2013.

After a year or two of work with the Fighting Irish's coaching staff, Smythe could follow in the footsteps of Eifert and become one of the top tight ends in all of college football.

 

Note: All player and class rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Follow me on Twitter @ZachDirlam_BR   

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