Jaylon Smith, a 6’2″, 240-pound Butkus award-winning linebacker – award given to the nation’s best linebacker – and consensus All-American performer, will leave Notre Dame a year early after his junior season to enter the NFL draft beginning April 28.
He was projected as a top ten NFL draft pick by multiple sites and considered by many the top player in the draft, but suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee.
The gruesome, horrific injury occurred in the first quarter against the previous year’s college football champion, the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl in which Smith was pushed from behind by all-American OT Taylor Decker and Smith’s left leg bent in an awkward way, leading his team with 114 tackles and third on the team with nine tackles-for-loss.
According to a tweet by ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter, “Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly called LB Jaylon Smith’s knee injury significant.”
The road to recovery has already begun as Smith had a successful surgery on his left knee, as stated in a report by Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton. There were reports of possible nerve damage within the knee, but after the “ACL was reconstructed and the LCL was repaired, the nerve is reacting well.”
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries no longer spell doom for football careers as it did in the past. It was once considered a career ending injury in football, but players like running backs Adrian Peterson, of the Minnesota Vikings, and Todd Gurley, selected as the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, made successful returns to the football field.
This is important because if your team needs a linebacker in the draft and Smith being the pre-eminent talent available, each team is doing their due diligence by examining medical records and following the recovery process.
So what is an ACL injury? It is the overstretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL), which was also torn, is the ligament located in the knee joint. The injury is caused by direct-force trauma to the inside of the knee causing the LCL to stretch or tear. The timeline to recovery is about six to nine months, including physical therapy.
Smith financed a $50,000 premium to set up as $5 million “Loss of Value” insurance policy in the event he fell out of the first round of the NFL draft, first reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell. In the event an injury occurs, the policy would result in at least partial or full payment if Smith isn’t selected by a professional team in the first round.