Notre Dame lands another Harvard grad transfer in defensive tackle Chris Smith

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND – The Cambridge-to-South Bend shuttle is becoming a popular route.

Notre Dame football dipped into the graduate transfer portal again Wednesday, this time for former Harvard defensive tackle Chris Smith. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder from Detroit, will join former Crimson punter Jon Sot on campus in June. 

Sot announced his transfer plans during the winter. 

Smith had committed to Minnesota as a grad transfer but Notre Dame re-entered the picture after the recent injury loss of 310-pound defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina. A torn ACL on March 17 in the opening session of spring practice will sideline the redshirt sophomore well into the fall. 

With Keanaaina out, the Irish lacked bulk in the middle of their defensive line. Sophomore Gabe Rubio (290 pounds) and redshirt freshman Jason Onye (289) were next to tip the scales, with both players drawing praise on Tuesday from new defensive line coach Al Washington. 

Asked specifically on April 2 how concerned he was about the lack of size on the interior defensive line, Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said “not one bit” four times. 

Four days later, Smith took to Twitter to announce he was being redirected to help solve the problem. 

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“We’ll always look to enhance our roster,” Freeman said on April 2. “If there’s the right fit to come here and help our team, then we’ll look for it.” 

Smith, who studied human evolutionary biology at Harvard, was first-team All-Ivy League last season for a Crimson team that went 8-2 and finished third in the league. The 2020 Ivy League season was canceled because of Covid-19. 

At the Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Smith was a four-time All-Catholic football selection and a two-time all-state pick. He played three years of varsity basketball and was a captain for the football and basketball teams.

Staff writer Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for the South Bend Tribune and Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino and email him at