EMCC Sophomore DE Za'Darius Smith

East Mississippi Community College (Scooba, MS) sophomore defensive end Za'Darius Smith went from being a high school basketball player to a potential star on the defensive line.

  • Name: Za'Darius Smith
  • Classification: Sophomore
  • Junior College: East Mississippi Community College (Scooba, MS)
  • Position: Defensive End
  • HT, WT: 6-6, 255
  • Scout.com Ranking: NR
  • Schools Of Interest: Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas Tech

  • "Za'Darius only played one year of football in high school," said East Mississippi Community College defensive coordinator William Jones.

    Za'Darius explained why.

    "I played basketball in high school and AAU basketball," he said. "I only played football one season."

    Despite being inexperienced in the game of football, Za'Darius had a very solid year while backing up All-American Denico Autry, recording 19 tackles, including 15 solo tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 9 quarterback hurries.

    Sacks are the main thing that he brings to the team at this point in his career.

    "The thing I bring to the team is the ability to get sacks," said the 6-6, 255-pounder. "What I need to work on is playing the run."

    Playing behind as talented a player as Denico Autry was invaluable to the youngster.

    "Denico (Autry) was a five-star player, an All-American," said Smith. "I can't promise that I'm going to be that type player but I'm going to play as hard as I can."

    "What I learned from Denico was how to get off the ball and how to get my man three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

    Not only did Smith play behind an All-American but he also gained valuable experience by playing in a national championship game.

    "I was nervous when I first played in the national championship game (against Arizona Western)," said Smith. "I hadn't played in one before. I hadn't even played in a state championship game. But after a couple of plays I was fine."

    Although he's only got two years of experience playing football under his belt, several colleges have seen enough to want him to play a couple of more for them.

    "Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas Tech are recruiting me," said Za'Darius. "Auburn and Mississippi State have offered me."

    As of now, he's still unsure who he will sign with.

    "I'm pretty much open right now," said Za'Darius. "I want to see who will offer before I decide."

    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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