Harrison Smith is on quite a roll. His Minnesota Vikings are 5-0 heading into Week 7. He’s the leader of their vaunted defense’s secondary. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about Harrison Smith, the sports fan.
Smith is coming off his first Pro Bowl selection last season, prompting the Vikings to sign him to an extension in the offseason that made him one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL. Many insiders consider him the best at his position in the game.
The Vikings front office will tell you none of this is a surprise to them. It’s why they drafted him in the first round back in 2012. And the 27 year old is not a Cinderella story – he played four seasons at powerhouse Notre Dame in South Bend. But if you think of Harrison Smith as just a football player, you’re shortchanging him.
In high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, Smith excelled on offense as both a running back and receiver and on defense. He was named the Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Tennessee in 2006. He also played basketball and competed as a jumper on the track team, where he won multiple state championships. He was rated a four-star recruit late in high school, and received scholarship offers from some of the nation’s biggest programs, including Notre Dame and his hometown University of Tennessee. He chose Notre Dame despite growing up a Vols fan, which he discusses:
“Growing up, it wasn’t Notre Dame; it was the University of Tennessee. I grew up watching Peyton Manning, Al Wilson on defense … there was a ton of greats that came through Tennessee when I was young and I got to watch them and be a fan of them.”
But Smith is quick to draw the line in the sand:
“If Notre Dame and Tennessee matched up in a bowl game now? No question. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 100%, no hesitation.”
The multisport star was also quick to throw some love at some perhaps unexpected programs at his alma mater, saying, “I went to Notre Dame, so just a fan of everything they do. They’ve always got a good lacrosse team, good men’s and women’s soccer, softball … so they kind of have it all so it’s fun to watch.”
Smith is also a fan of playing in a market where all the major sports are represented.
And proving once and for all that Harrison Smith is all of us, when asked if he could trade places with any professional athlete in the world, he had this to say: