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.
Rivals.com 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.