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At a sturdy 6 feet 2 inches and 213 pounds, Smith is intelligent, long and fast. He's one player who may be capable of covering today's athletic tight end. Throughout his meetings with teams, that has been the hot topic. "There's a big tight end in every division that dominated last year," Smith said. "Nobody found a great way to stop it without leaving other things open. So that's something people are definitely focused on. "How do you stop these big, athletic guys? I think the best way to stop them is with bigger, athletic safeties that match up better with them. It's hard to put a corner on them. It's hard to put a linebacker on them. A bigger safety who can run with them and make plays on the ball is something teams put a lot of value on."Visit JSonline.com for the full article, and tune in to next weekend's draft to see where Smith and his Irish teammates wind up.
This is the Cubs we're talking about, so naturally, the game was more dramatic than expected. Samardzija looked poised for a complete game one-run performance, before a two-out error and a two-run home run made it a 4-3 game.
Here's an excerpt from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. See the entire article on the South Bend Tribune website:
As Wrigleyville held its breath, closer Carlos Marmol came in and walked the first batter, conjuring up memories of the first two blown games by the Cubs' bullpen. But Marmol induced Xaver Nady to pop out, ending a dramatic 4-3 win before 31,973 at Wrigley Field. For Samardzija, the nail-biting win was about as sweet as it gets. "I really feel like I have a chip on my shoulders, because I've talked a big game about wanting to start and made it public," Samardzija said. "I don't want to look like an idiot."Samardzija is expected to start again on Friday when the Cubs open a weekend series at the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
- Robert Blanton posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds, a time that would have ranked as the fourth-fastest by a safety at the NFL Combine this year. Among cornerbacks, Blanton's 4.53 time would have tied for 12th. Of note is that the top two cornerbacks on most NFL mock drafts - LSU's Morris Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick - ran similar times to Blanton at the NFL Combine. Claiborne ran the 10th fastest time (4.50) while Kirkpatrick was right behind him and barely ahead of Blanton at 4.51 seconds. - Taylor Dever's broad jump distance of 8'9" would have tied him for sixth at the NFL Combine. Dever, who attended the NFL Combine, improved his times in the 40-yard dash (from 5.46 at the Combine to 5.34) and pro agility (from 4.90 to 4.71). - Darius Fleming posted two very quick times and helped his draft stock at the Pro Day. Fleming's 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds would have ranked third among linebackers at the NFL Combine and his 11.58 seconds in the 60-yard shuttle would have been the fourth-fastest among LBs. He also ranked in the top seven in bench press, pro agility (20-yard shuttle) and the three-cone drill at the Combine. - Jonas Gray improved his bench press numbers from 20 at the NFL Combine to 22 today. Even more impressive was the fact Gray ran and cut on the practice field while catching passes, despite being less than five months removed from knee surgery. - Trevor Robinson made the most of his opportunity as he recorded numbers that would have placed him among offensive linemen in the top 10 in four different categories. Robinson would have been the only offensive lineman at the NFL Combine to have ranked in the top 10 in vertical jump (30"; t-8th), broad jump (8'9"; t-6th), bench press (31; t-8th) and 40-yard dash (5.22; 8th). - David Ruffer made 13 of 15 field goals and many of his kickoffs landed in the endzone. - Harrison Smith's 60-yard shuttle time of 11.52 seconds would have been the fastest time by a safety at the NFL Combine. - NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock attended the Pro Day and offered his thoughts: "I think the two guys that really helped themselves in terms of 40 times and measurables are Blanton and Fleming. They both ran in the mid-4.5. I've been a believer for a long time." - Mayock on the draft prospects of Michael Floyd: "In my book he is (the best receiver in the Draft). If you take the off-the-field stuff away from Michael Floyd and just watch the tape, I think he compares very, very favorably to Justin Blackmon. In my opinion, I think Jacksonville at [No.] 7 starts his interest. I don't think he gets past 16 with the Jets. I think there are some teams like Chicago hanging down there at 19 that would love to have Michael Floyd." - Mayock on the draft prospects of Harrison Smith: "I think Mark Barron, the safety from Alabama, is in the top 20. Harrison should be the next safety. I see him late first round, but probably the top half of the second round. He's 6-foot-2, 215 pounds with great movement skills. Somebody's going to get a steal with Harrison Smith." - The quarterback that threw passes to Floyd and Jonas Gray during the position drills was former Notre Dame QB and current Carolina Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen.The 2012 NFL Draft begins with the first round on Thursday, April 26. Rounds two and three will held on Friday, with rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
The most prominent of the pro prospects, ND's all-time leading receiver Michael Floyd, is getting a boost from a teammate out of his past - former Irish standout quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Clausen left ND after his junior season in 2009 to enter the draft and has spent the past two seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Of Floyd's school-record 37 touchdown receptions with the Irish, the first 16 were thrown by Clausen. And Clausen will be throwing passes to Floyd Tuesday at the Loftus Center during the position drills portion of Pro Day.And while we're on the subject of Clausen passing to Floyd, here's a quick look back at one of their three touchdown connections from the 2009 opener: In addition to Floyd, the other Irish players taking part in Pro Day are S Harrison Smith, CB Robert Blanton, RB Jonas Gray, OL Taylor Dever, OL Trevor Robinson, LB Darius Fleming, K David Ruffer and CB Gary Gray. Notre Dame's Pro Day begins tomorrow at 11 am in Loftus Center. The event is closed to the public, but check back to UND.com and Irish UNDerground for coverage afterwards. - Josh Flynt ('11)