DARRYL DEVON "D.J." SMITH JR.
Appalachian State University Mountaineers
Charlotte, North Carolina
Independence High School
Smith has been one of the most productive defenders for a very strong "App State" program, racking up more than 500 tackles and multiple All-American nominations during his four years. He joined perennial All-American Dexter Coakley (616 tackles; 1993-95) as the only Mountaineers to record over 500 tackles at the school. He is the latest in a long line of standout linebackers at ASU, which includes Rico Mack, Coakley, Justin Seaverns, Pierre Banks and Jacque Roman.
Smith's 525 tackles rank fourth in Southern Conference annals. Since the conversion to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2000, only Boomer Grigsby of Illinois State (550; 2001-04) has registered more tackles in those ranks. Now, you would look at his impressive statistics and think that Smith prides himself on personal success, but nothing could be further from the truth.
After dazzling performances during his first six games as a Mountaineer, Smith forced the coaching staff to insert him into the starting lineup. He settled in at weak-side outside linebacker, producing three seasons with at least 121 tackles, including 137 as a junior, as that total rank ninth on the school season-record list.
Knowing that his senior season is when he would be more scrutinized by National Football League scouts, Smith was ready to show them that years of experience made him a dominating force at the weak-side position. That all changed in the third game of the season, when the App State middle linebacker was lost to an injury.
Smith stepped up and volunteered to play in the middle. He went on to register a career-best 144 tackles, the sixth-best season total by a Mountaineer. That move gave scouts an opportunity to see that Smith is perfectly capable of playing in the middle, a position that might be more suitable due to his stature (5:10.5) and where the Packers will line him up in their 3-4 scheme.
Smith did not even start until the seventh game of his freshman year at Appalachian State, but still managed 121 tackles, the second-highest season total by a first-year player at the university, topped only by Coakley's 159 stops in 1993. He also picked off two passes and deflected a career-high 11 other tosses in 2007.
As a sophomore, Smith's 123 stops in 2008 earned him second-team All-Southern Conference honors. He ranked third on the team with 7.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, as he added three quarterback pressures. He also recovered a fumble and broke up five pass attempts.
In 2009, Smith registered 137 tackles, including 14.5 stops for loss, two sacks, eight pass break-ups), two fumble recoveries and a pair of forced fumbles. That performance earned the junior All-American and All-Southern Conference first-team honors.
Much like Coakley, who came out of Appalachian State in the mid-1990s and had a long NFL career at linebacker despite a lack of prototypical size, pro scouts see quite a bit of Coakley in Smith, though he wasn't a third-round pick like the former Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams starter.
Smith is a thick-frame defender ideally suited to play in the middle. He scrapes down the line, staying square to get to the ball. He is adept at picking up running backs in the flat and shows good change of direction in tight spaces, as he is able to break down and stay low to wrap up ball carriers.
Smith is an excellent wrap-up tackler in space, hustling to the ball well. He rips off tight end blocks at the second level to make plays and gets to the first-down marker when dropping into coverage. He is also capable of pounding receivers in intermediate-to-deep zones.
In addition, the Mountaineer shows that he is a solid delayed blitzer, corralling most quarterbacks in the backfield, along with showing the leaping ability to get up quickly to block passes. Among active NCAA Football Championship Subdivision players, Smith ranks first in total tackles (525) and solo tackles (241), placing second with 284 assisted hits.
Smith started 50-of-56 games at Appalachian State – 40 at weak-side outside linebacker and 10 at middle linebacker…Recorded 525 tackles (241 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus-42 yards, 32.0 stops for losses of 117 yards and 15 quarterback pressures…Caused two fumbles and recovered five others, returning one 12 yards…Gained 86 yards with a touchdown on four interceptions and deflected 27 passes…Since the inception of the Football Championship Subdivision in 2000, only Boomer Grigsby of Illinois State (550 tackles; 2001-04) has recorded more tackles than Smith's 525…That total rank second in school history behind Dexter Coakley (616; 1993-95) and placed fourth in Southern Conference annals, topped by Coakley, Brian Ruff of The Citadel (755; 1973-76) and Tony Starks of The Citadel (533; 1974-77)…Became the seventh player in Southern Conference history to record 500 tackles in a career…His 144 tackles in 2010 rank sixth on the school season-record list, while his 137 tackles as a junior rank ninth…The last time an App State player recorded more tackles that Smith's 2010 total in a season was Dexter Coakley in 1996 (166)…Joined Coakley as the only Mountaineers to register at least 120 tackles in a seasons four times during a career…His 241 solo tackles rank fourth on the school's all-time record list, while his 284 assisted hits broke the previous Mountaineers' record of 266 by Coakley.
2010 seasonOne of three Mountaineers on The Sports Network's official watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the nation's top FCS defensive player, Smith
Added All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and the Sports Network, while adding third-team accolades from the Associated Press…Started the first three games at weak-side outside linebacker and the final ten contests at middle linebacker, as he ranked 13th in the nation with an average of 11.08 tackles per game…Led the league with 144 tackles (76 solos), the sixth-best season total in school history…Added a pair of sacks for minus 14 yards, 4.5 stops for losses of 19 yards and five quarterback pressures, as he also recovered a fumble…Gained 26 yards on an interception return and deflected three other pass attempts…Registered at least 10 tackles in 10 of his final 11 contests.
2010 game highlights
Smith opened the season with six solo tackles vs. Chattanooga, followed by another six-hit performance vs. Jacksonville…He reached double digits for the first time in 2010 with ten stops (4 solos) and a pressure vs. North Carolina Central, in what would be his final start at weak-side linebacker…Smith switch to the middle vs. Samford, responding with a 26-yard interception return, 14 tackles (13 solos) that included a 6-yard sack and a pass deflection…He followed with another fourteen tackles (7 solos) and a stop for a loss vs. Elon and delivered twelve hits (4 solos) vs. The Citadel…He collected thirteen tackles and broke up a pass vs. Western Carolina…He totaled 16 tackles (12 solos) vs. Georgia Southern and had ten hits with a pressure vs. Wofford…Added fourteen tackles (12 solos) vs. Florida in the season finale…Opened FCS playoff action with ten tackles and a pressure vs. Western Illinois and closed out his career with twelve tackles, a pressure and an 8-yard sack vs. Villanova.
Was recognized by many observers as the top defender on a unit that included Buck Buchanan Award finalist Mark Legree and former Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jacque Roman...Collected first-team All-American recognition from The NFL Draft Report and the Sports Network…Added first-team All-Southern Conference honors from the league's coaches and media...Led the squad and tied for first in the conference while placing second nationally with 137 tackles (60 solos), the ninth-best season total ever by a Mountaineer…Led ASU in tackles seven times, including each of the first four games of the year...Tallied no few than six tackles in each game and recorded double-digit stops six times...Also topped squad and ranked second in conference and tied for 25th nationally with 14.5 total stops for losses of 56 yards, adding two sacks for minus-15 yards and five pressures…Led the team with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, advancing one 12 yards…Credited with eight pass break-ups, which were second-most on the team, and returned an interception 34 yards.
2009 game highlights
Smith opened the season with 13 tackles at East Carolina and three weeks later, he helped ASU to a pivotal win over Samford with a season-high 17 tackles, including one-and-a-half for loss and a sack, two quarterback hurries and two pass break-ups, earning Southern Conference and national Defensive Player of the Week recognition. His 17 stops were the most by a Mountaineer since Jacque Roman recorded 20 in a win over James Madison in opening round of the 2007 NCAA Division I Football Championship...Followed up his 17-tackle effort against Samford with 10 stops in overtime victory at The Citadel...Had two tackles for loss in wins North Carolina Central, Georgia Southern and Chattanooga...Also wreaked havoc in the takeaway department during a four-game stretch in the middle of the season, as he recovered fumbles in wins over Wofford and Georgia Southern; forced a fumble at Furman and intercepted a pass on the opening series vs. Chattanooga, which he returned 34 yards to the one yard line to set up a one-yard touchdown drive that gave ASU a 7-0 lead...Notched 15 tackles (one behind the line of scrimmage) to help pace a 27-10 win at Elon in the de facto conference championship game...Recorded 10 stops, including a season-best 2.5 for loss, in a quarterfinal playoff triumph at Richmond...Led all players with 14 tackles in national semifinals at Montana.
Despite ranking second on the team and in the league while placing 12th nationally with 123 tackles (58 solos), Smith only received second-team All-Southern Conference recognition from the league's coaches and media and did not receive even an honorable-mention All-American nod...He reached double-figure tackles five times in 14 games, adding two sacks for minus 8 yards, 7.5 stops for losses of 21 yards and three pressures while deflecting five passes and recovering a fumble.
2008 game highlights
In the season opener at Louisiana State, Smith posted eleven tackles…Ironically, he put up some of his best numbers in losses, as three of his five double-digit-tackle efforts came in losses (11 at LSU, 10 at James Madison, 14 vs. Richmond)...Turned in arguably his best performance of the regular season at Samford with 16 tackles, 12 of which were solo, which earned him SoCon's Defensive Player of the Week honors…His finest effort of the year came in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship vs. South Carolina State, when he matched the season-high 16 stops and added one-and-a-half tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass break-up.
Freshman All-American selection by The NFL Draft report…Despite not starting until the team's seventh game, Smith recorded 121 tackles (47 solos), the most by an ASU fresh-man since Dexter Coakley recorded 159 in 1993...The weak-side linebacker notched double-digit tackles in 5-of-9 starts, adding an assisted sack among his 5.5 stops for losses of 21 yards…Had two pressures and a fumble recovery…Deflected eleven passes and intercepted two others for 26 yards in returns and a touchdown.
2007 game highlights
Named November's SoCon Defensive Player of the Month after leading ASU in tackles (49), interceptions (2) and pass break-ups (3) in four games during the month...In just his second-career game, he came off the bench to lead all players with 12 tackles vs. Lenoir-Rhyne...In his third start, Smith turned in the best performance by an ASU freshman linebacker in 14 years with 16 tackles (13 solos) and returned his first-career interception 23 yards for a touchdown early in the ballgame to help lead ASU to a crucial 45-24 victory at The Citadel. His 16 tackles were the most in a single-game by an ASU frosh since Dexter Coakley's 21 vs. The Citadel in 1993…Also added one-and-a-half tackles for loss vs. The Citadel and matched that total the following week vs. archrival Western Carolina, as he also intercepted a pass in the WCU clash...Earned SoCon Defensive Player of the Week recognition after tallying a game-high 14 tackles and breaking up two passes in the regular-season finale vs. Chattanooga...Registered 12 tackles and broke up a pass in each of ASU's first two postseason victories over James Madison and Eastern Washington... Broke up two passes vs. Richmond in the national semifinals...Capped an impressive freshman campaign with 10 tackles in the national championship game vs. Delaware.
Campus agility tests
4.71 in the 40-yard dash…1.74 10-yard dash…2.69 20-yard dash…4.45 20-yard shuttle…11.87 60-yard shuttle…7.35 three-cone drill…31-inch vertical jump…8'8" broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times…32-inch arm length…9 ?-inch hands…76 7/8-inch wingspan.
Attended Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) High School, lettering three times in football for head coach Tom Knotts…Helped the team go undefeated and extend their string to four consecutive Class 4-A state championships during Smith's prep career...Ranked second on the team in tackles as a senior, playing both middle and outside linebacker...Named team MVP in 2006...Two-time All-State and three-time All-Conference selection...Also lettered in basketball.
Accounting major…Son of Pamela Rice…Born Darryl Devon Smith Jr. (goes by D.J.) on 2/24/89…Resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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