If there is a defining trait the new Baylor defensive staff looks for in a defensive end it is height. You can see if how they recruited the 2016 class, signing 6-foot-6 Justin Harris and B.J. Thompson, to go along with 6-foot-5 Cole Maxwell and Chidi Ogbonnaya. Baylor continued that run in 2017, gaining a verbal pledge from Marje' Smith, a 6-foot-6 end from Marshall High School in East Texas.
Smith was offered by the Baylor staff on Saturday, June 10th, a day after receiving his very first offer Division I offer from FCS school Stephen F. Austin. It did not take long for Smith to pull the trigger for Baylor, committing to the Bears Monday morning.
A two-way player for Marshall as a Junior, Smith played receiver and caught 6 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Smith accounted for 23 tackles and a sack. While the statistics might not jump off the page, Smith is a strong athlete with a very high potential ceiling.
Marshall is expected to be one of the best teams in the state, featuring some of the best talent in East Texas. Alongside Smith are three offensive linemen with Division 1 offers, led by 4-star center Chasen Hines, committed to LSU. Christian Hood and Kameron King also have FBS offers.
East Texas has been a strength of Baylor recruiting the last few years, highlighted by players such as KD Cannon and Davion Hall, two of the highest rated recent Baylor signees. With Smith in the fold, the Bears will continue to develop those East Texas ties.
Marje' Smith is the type of developmental defensive end that will take time to meet his potential, but that potential could be particularly high.
Smith is a raw, unpolished prospect from a physical and technical standpoint. He likely is not a player who will get on the field early in college, but will need time in the weight room and cafeteria to add bulk and strength.
However, once he does, his frame and athleticism could make him a steal when Baylor fans look back on his commitment.
At 6-foot-6 and just a bit north of 200 pounds, Smith is extremely long and lean. There is virtually limitless space on his frame to add weight. As he builds strength, his wingspan will make him a tough task for opposing offensive linemen.
Smith shows a great reactiveness at the line of scrimmage for batting down passes. His height and length aid him in that endeavor, but he also shows a good sense of timing and the instincts to put himself in passing lanes.
In addition to gaining weight and strength, Smith will need to improve his pad level, a common weakness for tall edge prospects. He will also need to add moves to improve as a pass-rusher. Smith's frame and natural athletic ability suggest that he possesses a high ceiling when it comes to getting after the quarterback.
In summary, Smith is an intriguing defensive end prospect because of his physical tools. There is indeed a lot of work to be done, but the previous coaching staff at Marshall High School praised his work ethic and character, so that suggests that his development could come to fruition in the way Baylor fans hope it does.
Midlands Region football recruiting analyst -- Texas | Louisiana | Arkansas