ND LB Jaylon Smith plans to enter NFL draft, despite injury

Notre Dame junior LB Jaylon Smith announced on Monday that he will enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

Smith, the 2015 Butkus Award winner as the nation's top collegiate LB, tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee against Ohio State in the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl, on Jan. 1. He had reconstructive knee surgery last week.

"It's really just perseverance for me, with the adversity I'm going through right now, dealing with the knee injury," Smith said in a video statement. "I have the same vision; it's just a different path. I'm just really looking forward to this opportunity."

Smith is the No. 2-ranked prospect on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board, which was released in mid-December before Smith's injury.

Smith is "one of the most dynamic football players I've coached in 25 years," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on "SportsCenter" on Monday. "I think he's a generational player at his position. He'll recover fine from (the injury). We saw (former Georgia and current Rams RB) Todd Gurley have an ACL and MCL (injury); obviously, it didn't affect his status. The NFL will be lucky to get a young man like this."