Instant reaction | ND Lands Grad Transfer DT Chris Smith


Even before Aidan Keanaaina suffered an ACL injury this spring, defensive tackle depth was a question mark for the Fighting Irish 2022. The defense was going to be put in a position where they were going to have to rely on inexperienced players to cliches.

That’s much less of a concern now with the addition of transfer graduate Chris Smith. The former Harvard player was an All-Ivy League selection at defensive tackle in 2021. He didn’t play in 2020 due to the Ivy League season being canceled due to the pandemic, but he has also had a significant impact on the 2019 season.

He ranked top 5 in his position at FCS in 2019 and finished 4th in pass rush winning percentage. Last season, he was ranked 17th in the nation in defensive tackle.

Looking at him, the player he reminds me of is Kurt Hinish. Neither of them have ideal measurements in the NFL, but just like Hinish, Smith plays with the strength of a man who is over 6’2″300 tall.

Here he is at 1-tech, a spot where he plans to play Notre Dame. He attacks with great leverage and is able to intimidate the guard before launching into the tackle.


He has a bump in his hands. He doesn’t have long arms so he not only has to win with a quick first step, but also with quick hands that establish control of the blocker like on this play where he enters the backfield.


Smith has a nice arm movement that he uses to pull gaps like on this particular play. When guards or centers fear a defensive tackle will beat them to the punch, they become sensitive to a move like this.


One area where I think he is better than Hinish is in lateral quickness. He’s so quick with his sidestep going from a 3-tech to the guard’s inside shoulder. Smith crosses the face of the guard then makes the play.


I really like this addition for Notre Dame. I think he’s going to be in the rotation and be a valuable contributor. For a player of his size, he has the right kind of traits that can help him successfully level up in competition.

Hinish was a warrior and a guy who played above his talent level in the big spots. Time will tell if Smith can live up to that, but I think he can be a good player for the Irish and that immediately allays some concerns about defensive tackle depth this fall.


Comments are closed.