Notre Dame's Durham Smythe, Equanimeous St. Brown taken in NFL Draft
In November, Hard Rock Stadium was Notre Dame’s house of horrors.
Suddenly, for Durham Smythe, it feels more like a second home.
What a difference a couple months make, especially when it comes to two particularly memorable Saturdays. On Nov. 11, the No. 3 Irish carried a wave of momentum into south Florida … and were promptly submerged in the crashing tide. In a 41-8 primetime pummeling, No. 7 Miami rushed for 237 yards, forced four turnovers and swiftly suffocated Notre Dame’s premature playoff hopes.
Smythe — Notre Dame’s 6-foot-5, 257-pound tight end — finished with a single catch for 16 yards.
It was his first — but probably not his last — reception inside Hard Rock Stadium.
On Saturday, the Miami Dolphins selected Smythe in the fourth round, with the 123rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the third Irish player off the board, joining offensive guard Quenton Nelson (sixth overall to Indianapolis) and offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (ninth overall to San Francisco).
Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown joined that group as well, being claimed by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round (207th pick) and reunited with former Irish signal caller DeShone Kizer.
There was, however, one glaring Irish offensive omission.
Four punters were drafted on Saturday. Two placekickers went as well. One Australian rugby player who has never played a down of American football — a 6-8, 346-pound Samoan named Jordan Mailata — was scooped up in the seventh round by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
A total of 20 running backs were drafted.
But Josh Adams — who rushed for 1,430 yards, 6.9 yards per carry and nine touchdowns last season, finishing seven yards shy of the single-season ND rushing record — wasn’t one of them.
Instead, the Warrington, Pa., native signed as an undrafted free agent with his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Two of his Irish teammates — linebacker Nyles Morgan and defensive end Andrew Trumbetti — inked with the Chicago Bears.
But for Smythe, specifically, Saturday ended with a celebration — as well as a wave of relief.
“It is such a crazy process,” Smythe said after landing in Miami. “You have some people telling you you’ll be a third- or fourth-round guy, then you’ve got other people saying you’re going to go in the sixth, seventh, late, whatever. It’s tough to exactly pinpoint it.
“Obviously, I had a good feeling about a few teams just because I had gone through meetings with them and such. When it all comes down to it, when you get in these middle rounds here, it’s tough to know exactly what’s going to happen.”
That was certainly the case for St. Brown, who was projected by some to go as high as the second round. and yet, the 6-5, 214-pound wide receiver — who finished with 92 catches, 1,484 yards and 13 touchdowns in his three-year Irish career — was in for a three-day wait.
“I definitely expected to go higher,” St. Brown said on a conference call on Saturday. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed, but now it’s over. Now it’s behind me. Now I just have to play football.”
And at least in Green Bay, St. Brown will be greeted by a familiar face. In 2016, with Kizer as his quarterback, the Anaheim, Calif., native led the Irish in catches (58), receiving yards (961) and receiving touchdowns (9), while also averaging an impressive 16.6 yards per catch.
On Saturday, Kizer and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers added a target who’s not only talented, but motivated.
“It’s definitely fueled me more than I thought it would,” said St. Brown, who added that Kizer called him shortly after he was picked. “I’m definitely ready to start playing football. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my life.”
That motivation is likely multiplied for Adams, Morgan and Trumbetti. The 6-2, 225-pound Adams ranks fifth in school history in career rushing yards and third in career yards per carry (6.6), and he tied for the national lead with seven rushes of at least 60 yards in 2017.
His issue, it seems, stems from a perceived lack of durability. Adams tore his ACL during his junior season at Warrington (Pa.) Central Bucks South High School, and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reported during Notre Dame’s Pro Day on March 22 that he may require foot surgery this offseason. Adams also faded down the stretch last fall, managing just 261 rushing yards in his final five games.
Morgan — a 6-1, 235-pound senior and 2017 captain — combined for 186 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Trumbetti — who accrued 91 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in his four-year Irish career — will be repurposed as an outside linebacker by the Bears, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Regardless of the destination, or the round, or the paycheck, they’ve all got something to prove.
And for Smythe, specifically, it’s never too late for a second first impression.