Smith awaits next challenge with Vikings

There were no big pre-draft parties, no three-piece suits for Harrison Smith to celebrate making it to the next level.

The former Notre Dame safety and captain watched the NFL draft unfold Thursday night from his Knoxville, Tenn., home with family and friends, a fringe first-round prospect who knew better than to put all his eggs in one basket in case he had to wait another 24 hours to hear his name called.

"I knew it was possible," Smith said of going in the first round. "I really didn't want to put too much pressure on myself thinking I have to go as high as I can go. I just watched with friends and family and just waited and see what happens. If I didn't go, no big deal, just come back the next day and watch again. I was watching and kind of just waiting."

The Vikings took Smith with the 29th pick, less than 90 minutes after his former Irish teammate, Michael Floyd, was taken 13th by the Cardinals, giving Notre Dame multiple first-round draft picks for the first time in 18 years.

Smith had not had much contact with Minnesota -- at least not in the last three months.

Smith played in the 63rd Senior Bowl in late January. His team, the North, was coached by Leslie Frazier and the Vikings' staff, and they came away impressed with what they saw in Mobile, Ala. But they never talked to him afterward.

"I thought I played well and did a good job and tried to do what they wanted me to do, but they never said anything about that they were going to draft me," Smith said. "There were a lot of good players down there. I think it was just trying to get to know each other well and at the end of the day, I think they think I'm a good fit for them and I 100-percent agree"

Smith is hoping his versatility pays off in the pros, as he can play either safety spot and cover the ever-growing tight end position. Notre Dame's ninth all-time tackler said that he and the Vikings' staff got a good feel for each other at the Senior Bowl, and he is happy to have landed with a franchise he was already familiar with.

"Just taking in their coaching," Smith said when asked what stood out about them three months ago. "There are a few different coaching points from here and there that are different from college and the pros. I tried to do it the way they wanted me to do it and sticking to the scheme."