Name: Za’Darius Smith
Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Greenville, Alabama
Weight: 255 lbs.
40 time: 4.71
The #1 JUCO defensive end prospect accounted for 66 tackles and 11 sacks in two seasons at East Mississippi Community College. During the 2012 JUCO season, he recorded 6.5 sacks and forced four fumbles on his way to being named to the National Junior College Football All-America Team. He was rated a 4-star prospect by every major scouting service, and is arguably the highest-rated defensive prospect to commit to UK since Micah Johnson.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound sophomore boasted offers from Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. This is huge news for the Cats, who graduated both of their starting defensive ends in Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham.
Expect to see Smith as one of the starting DEs when the Cats head to Nashville to open their season against Western Kentucky.
Here is his ESPN Recruiting Profile
Smith is a good looking defensive prospect. He’s a defensive end with nice overall size who displays the ability to be a productive run defender as well as pass rusher. He displays a good initial burst off the ball. For a taller kid he demonstrates the ability to play with good pad level. He uses his hands and reach to maintain separation. Reacts to blocks well and can get his hands on and squeeze down. He displays a good motor as well as long speed and can redirect well. As a pass rusher he can be disruptive as he can get upfield with a good initial burst, is violent with his hands and uses his reach well. He can get to the edge and adequately bend back in. He reacts to blockers well and can counter inside, and while he needs some refinement he shows a solid command of pass rush moves. Smith can be more polished, but he’s a good prospect who could offer immediate quality depth and even potentially be a solid plug-and-play guy with room to still improve.