Photo credit: Don Juan Moore / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
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Harrison Smith has been a highly respected football player ever since his Knoxville Catholic High School days back in Tennessee. Smith earned the 2006 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Tennessee and that led to a Notre Dame scholarship and the emergence of everything we see now. With 309 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 28 passes defended in South Bend the NFL assessed Harrison Smith and deemed him worthy of a 1st round pick. Then in 2012 the Minnesota Vikings drafted the former Irish standout with the 29th overall selection and it’s safe to say Smith has lived up to expectations. Now three Pro Bowls, 17 interceptions, and 4 defensive touchdowns later Smith is easily one of the best defenders in the entire National Football League. Not many players have the type of impact this guy has and it’s because of his ball hawking abilities. Smith does such a great job of reading quarterback’s eyes and then diagnoses the play so quickly. From there it’s about responding and number 22 for the Vikings can break on the football with amazing closing speed. So many times that has ended with Smith going the other way for six points for Minnesota and Mike Zimmer knows he has an x-factor on the backend of his secondary. At 29 years old the 7th year safety has plenty of gas left in the tank and there’s a reason he signed a $51M dollar contract back in 2016. It’s because Smith is a premier player and it’s not easy to match this kind of output. The quarterbacks in the NFL do everything they can to avoid turning the football over but Smith still finds a way to consistently disrupt the passing game. That comes from preparation in the form film study and a unique athleticism (4.57 40 yard dash and 19 bench press of 225 pounds). All of which combine to make a very exciting defensive back.
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