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Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith emulates Von Miller, Lawrence Taylor


If there is something on a football field Jaylon Smith can't do, he hasn't found it yet.

The Notre Dame star junior can play inside, outside and in pass coverage. He can rush the quarterback, too. But for a player better known for his skills as a more traditional linebacker, he's talking like a guy who is ready to play on the edge more.

And given the Fighting Irish's need for a better pass rush, it might just happen for him.

"I really look up to Patrick Willis, to Von Miller, Derrick Thomas, Lawrence Taylor -- those freaks that can rush off the edge," Smith told FOX Sports. "I watch those guys every day and model my game after them."

If you're counting, that's three mentions of edge rushers out of four, with the retired Willis being the exception who played more between the tackles. While Smith is a spectacular athlete, he doesn't have the length and frame at 6-foot-2 that is preferred in NFL edge rushers. His ability to play in pass coverage is one of the things that separates him as one of college football's elite linebackers, which is one reason Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly might be reluctant to simply bring him off the edge on third down after third down.

But four sacks was enough for Romeo Okwara to lead the entire team in that category last year, and Smith was right behind him with 3.5.

If Kelly is determined to generate more heat on opposing quarterbacks in 2015, Smith just might get his chance to do what the players he emulates do best.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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