A native of Columbus Ga., Smith was a high school quarterback but soon after he arrived on campus was moved to linebacker. Three years later, Smith has settled in at defensive end.
Smith went through those moves that were not easy to adjust too.
"One thing I can say is that it was real tough, coming from quarterback to linebacker to D-line, required me to change my mentality completely, and it took me two to three years to get me in that mindset," Smith said. "It took me time."
Smith led the team as a sophomore in sacks with five and a half, after appearing in 10 games with five of those starts. He had three sacks at North Carolina.
As a Junior Smith finished second on the team with four sacks and led the defensive line with twenty-nine tackles. Smith had a three game stretch against South Florida, Cincinnati, and Temple where he recorded a sack in each one of those games.
Now as a senior, Smith has continued to be a force for the Cardinals. He had five tackles against Eastern Kentucky and added three last week at Kentucky. Even though Smith has yet to record a sack this season, he still thinks that the defensive line as a whole has improved tremendously in getting pressure to the opposing quarterback.
"Were doing a lot better job," Smith said. "Last year it took us six or seven games to actually get to the quarterback and as for this year it has only taken us one or two."
Being a former quarterback has actually been a positive in Smith's eyes, because he believes that knowing the position gives him an advantage in pursuing the opposing quarterback.
"When we face teams that are running the spread, I know exactly what the quarterback does," Smith said. "So being a quarterback helps me a lot, because most of the time I know exactly what they are doing."
U of L defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Smith has not only been a solid player for the Cardinals but has become a leader on the defense.
"He's done tremendous job, and Marcus is definitely a leader," Bedford said. "He's grown up; he understands what it takes to be an outstanding football player. It's the extra work on your own when the coaches are not around and that is what you are seeing on the field right now."
Smith said his leadership has grown in the past year, noting he wants to be more of a leader for the rest of the season.
"Being a quarterback in high school, and being a quarterback coming in, I've always been a leader at heart," he said. "But once they gave me that role I knew it was time, and the defensive line looks up to me as a leader."
"My personal goal is to have at least fifteen sacks and at least ten tackles for loss."