Yahoo: What convinced Kelly his plan was working?

Yahoo: What convinced Kelly his plan was working?
August 13, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Yahoo's Dan Wetzel has a fantastic story up on Brian Kelly, which you can read here. There are plenty of big-picture takeaways in it, like on building a program at Notre Dame vs. the way Alabama does things.

But here's an interesting one: It took Jaylon Smith for Kelly to be convinced what he was building and selling was going to work at Notre Dame.

"When Jaylon came back from Ohio State and said no to Ohio State, that was big," Kelly told Wetzel. "Because you've got Urban there. The glitter is still on. It's Ohio State and it's Urban Meyer and he's the hottest thing out there and Jaylon said, 'no, I want to come to Notre Dame.'

"That might have been the time I looked out there and said, 'we're going to be all right.' "

[More: Notre Dame's championship expectations coming into focus]

Smith gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on June 2, 2012. Rivals.com rated him as the best outside linebacker in the class of 2013 and the third-best player overall, better than anyone brought in by Nick Saban and Alabama.

But consider who committed before Smith: Four-star offensive linemen Steve Elmer, Hunter Bivin, Colin McGovern and John Montelus, quarterback Malik Zaire, wide receivers James Onwualu and Corey Robinson and tight end Mike Heuerman. There was plenty of talent there, but none as coveted as Smith.

So it wasn't a 12-0 regular season or any single point last fall -- like the win over Oklahoma -- that convinced Kelly what he was doing was working. It was landing Smith before any of that happened that did it.

Click here to read Dan Wetzel's full story on Brian Kelly on Yahoo.com.