As dire as Jaylon Smith's knee injury seemed when he was carted off the field at the Fiesta Bowl, there was optimism that the Notre Dame linebacker will make a full recovery after a Thursday surgery to assess and repair the damage.
Smith tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee against Ohio State on Jan. 1, but the procedure to repair the ligaments "went about as well as it possibly could have," a source with knowledge of the situation told SI.
"What we do know is there's going to be a full recovery," the source said. "The repair is solid, and he's very optimistic. We're optimistic. And Jaylon is ready to get going with his rehab."
The repair of the ACL and LCL "couldn't have gone better," per the source. Though clearly significant, the ligament damage was the lesser of the concerns for the All-America performer thought to be a lock for a first-round NFL draft selection.
There were reports of possible nerve damage within the knee, which would have loomed much larger for Smith's immediate future. But the source offered a positive report about that after the surgery.
"The nerve was healthy and in great condition," the source said.
The 6'2", 240-pound Smith finished his junior season at Notre Dame with a team-best 114 tackles and ranked third on the Fighting Irish with nine tackles for loss. His decision regarding an early departure to the NFL draft is expected in the coming days, before the Jan. 18 deadline to declare.