What was feared to be a devastating injury and a potentially complicated recovery for Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith's injured left knee reportedly has a much brighter outlook following reconstructive surgery.
Smith is expected to make a full recovery from repairs of a torn ACL and a torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament), according to Sports Illustrated. There was a fear of nerve damage in the knee, a complication which could have made for a difficult and unpredictable recovery. However, a source told SI the nerve "was healthy and in great condition," adding the procedure "went about as well as it possibly could have. ... What we do know is there's going to be a full recovery. The repair is solid, and he's very optimistic. We're optimistic. And Jaylon is ready to get going with his rehab."
That's excellent news for an underclassman who is one of the elite talents in college football. Smith has yet to announce whether he will apply for early eligibility into the 2016 NFL Draft, and it's unclear whether his injury will affect that decision. Underclassmen have until a Jan. 18 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility. NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported last month -- about three weeks before the injury -- that Smith was leaning toward applying for early draft entry and was narrowing his options for an agent.
Smith won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker as a junior, showing an ability to play inside, outside or rush the passer. He was injured in the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl after stepping awkwardly following a block from Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker.