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#CFBTop20: No. 3, Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame


Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith jumps out if you're watching the Fighting Irish defense in action. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine, registering a team-high 112 tackles last season (leading his team by a distant margin of 34 tackles).

There will likely be a great "best linebacker" debate to be waged throughout the 2015 season between Smith and UCLA's Myles Jack (No. 11 on the #CFBTop20 countdown). NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that Smith is in the same league as Jack from an explosiveness standpoint and can unlatch from blocks to pounce on runners like a puma.

Pulling back the curtain on the vote

Smith earned votes from six of seven CFB 24/7 experts. Smith was one of six players to receive a first-place vote; he also received three other top-10 votes. Smith gives Notre Dame two players in the #CFBTop20 countdown, joining offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

What some of our analysts are saying about Smith

"He jumps off the tape when you study him. Against Florida State, he looked like the fastest player on the field." -- Daniel Jeremiah

"No linebacker in the country gets from sideline to sideline better than Smith, and he can take on and shed blocks between the tackles, as well." -- Chase Goodbread

"Smith has great range and an extra burst to his target that puts him in position to make an insane number of plays. He's an ultra smooth LB who is more productive than Myles Jack and a better athlete than Scooby Wright." -- Lance Zierlein

"Smith is an excellent tackler and there are few in recent memory with his combination of quickness to the ball and the natural instincts to take advantage of that quickness." -- Chad Reuter

"If anything, I have him too low. An absolute sideline-to-sideline demon who makes most of his plays going forward, in the offense's backfield." -- Charles Davis

"Tackling machine with outstanding instincts and awareness. Dominates the game as a sideline-to-sideline playmaker." -- Bucky Brooks

Where do fans rank Smith?

We asked Twitter users who they considered the best player in college football. Smith finished 11th in the fan vote, gaining the respect of the football-watching populace as a standout for a high-profile program that is on national television virtually every Saturday.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah likely fueled some of that hype when he digested tape of Smith in June and then went to Twitter to show how impressive a player he is.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter _@NFLCFB_.

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