Player Replacing: Danny Spond
Smith's rise to the starting DOG linebacker position was the result of some very saddening news.
Incumbent starter Danny Spond was essentially forced to walk away from the game of football due to suffering chronic hemiplegic migraines over the course of the past calendar year.
While Smith lacks the expansive knowledge that Spond possesses, Kelly believes that the coaching staff has the ability to seamlessly transition Smith into Spond's vacated post, via Rachel Terlep of The Elkhart Truth.
"Jaylon has done remarkably well in such a short amount of time in picking up the defense," Kelly said. "Jaylon has incredible athleticism to be able to play in space."
Terlep also noted the Fort Wayne, Ind., native took all observable first team reps during Thursday's practice.
The former 5-star prospect, per 247 Sports, will be the first freshman linebacker to start for Notre Dame since Manti Te'o, with each player choosing Notre Dame despite offers from nearly every major program in the country.
Smith gave his pledge to the Irish over offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and USC, among others.