UK signs two top junior college players

Mere weeks after signing on as Kentucky head coach, Mark Stoops has collected a few important signatures of his own.

On national junior college signing day, Stoops signed Za’Darius Smith, the nation’s top defensive end in the nation. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound player announced his decision Wednesday at Greenville (Ala.) High School.

Smith played at East Mississippi Community College for Jimmy Brumbaugh, who signed on just a couple of days ago to be UK’s new defensive line coach.

Smith, a four-star player out of high school, is the first of that caliber to commit in this recruiting class.

“I know this staff,” Smith said at his news conference, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “I just feel comfortable here. Coach Stoops is a defensive man. (Brumbaugh) coached me for a year and he got me where I need to be, as in all the SEC and ACC offers. I can continue that and just go on to bigger and better places with him.”

In two seasons at East Mississippi CC, Smith had 66 tackles and 11 sacks. This season, he had 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. reported that Smith had offers from Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M and West Virginia.

 “I want to take my talent to Kentucky,” Smith said. “I can do a lot at Kentucky. I know the head coach. We’re going to make big plays together.”

  • Steven Borden, a junior college tight end, also has signed to play for Stoops at Kentucky. Borden, an all-conference selection for Kilgore College in Texas, is the son of professional wrestler Steve Borden, who is known in those circles as “Sting.” The
    6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end caught 11 passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns this season.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
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2 Responses to UK signs two top junior college players

  1. I hope Smith is qualified. He kinda scares me on the academics.

  2. Herb Elliott says:

    Sounds like a good start. With the kids coming back it might not be such a bad season.