Name: Za’Darius Smith
Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Greenville, Alabama
Weight: 255 lbs.
40 time: 4.71
Smith was regarded as one of the nation’s top-rated junior college prospects. When he announced that he’d sign with the University of Kentucky, he became just the second-official commitment of the Mark Stoops era at UK. 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.
Smith boasted offers from Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, so that should tell you how coveted he was.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Smith was a massive get for the Cats, who graduated both of their starting defensive ends in Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham.
Thr 6-5, 260-pounder has a reported 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash, and is a freak athlete who will immediately make an impact in the SEC. He has three years to play two seasons
Expect to see Smith as one of the starting DEs when the Cats head to Nashville to open their season against Western Kentucky. With WKU and Miami (OH) on the docket first, Smith will get a chance to ease his way nit to rue college football before facing the grind of the SEC. Expect to see him on one of the All-SEC teams at the end of the year, and don’t be shocked if the NFL comes calling and Smith ends up being “one-and-done”.
With his frame & skill-set, combined with the pedigree Mark Stoops has in getting players to the NFL, there’s no reason to think Stoops can’t get him to the NFL in just one season.