Za'Darius Smith Named Shrine Game Defensive Most Outstanding Player
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith was tabbed the East-West Shrine Game Most Outstanding Defensive Player on Saturday at Tropicana Field in Tampa, and has accepted an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala., televised live on the NFL Network.
Smith, a native of Greenville, Ala., had two tackles, including a quarterback sack, along with a QB hurry in the Shrine Game as the East defense limited the West offense to only 93 yards total offense. Smith is the first Wildcat to earn all-star game honors since safety Melvin Johnson was the most outstanding defensive player of the Senior Bowl following the 1994 season.
UK offensive lineman Darrian Miller also played for the victorious East squad, which posted a 19-3 victory. The duo give UK 19 all-time players in the Shrine game and mark the first since Darryl Bishop and Frank Lemaster in 1973, when the game was played in Miami.
As a senior for UK in 2014, Smith ranked third on the club with 61 tackles, starting all 12 games. A 6-foot-6, 263-pounder, he added 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries. In two years at UK, Smith totaled 120 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
On Saturday, Smith will be the first Wildcat to play in the Senior Bowl since Derrick Locke following the 2010 season and will be the 32nd player in UK history to suit up in the Senior Bowl. He will be on the North team. Wildcat All-America defensive end Alvin “Bud” Dupree, who was originally scheduled to play in this year’s Senior Bowl, will not participate.
UK in the Senior Bowl (year indicates final season at Kentucky)
1951: Bob Gain
1952: Babe Parilli
1953: John Griggs
1954: Ray Correll
1955: Bob Hardy, Howard Schellenberge
1963: Herschel Turner
1966: Rodger Bird, Rick Kestner, Sam Ball
1975: Wally Pesuit
1977: Randy Burke, Dallas Owens
1984: George Adams
1985: Jon Dumbauld
1987: Dermontti Dawson
1989: Oliver Barnett
1992: Chuck Bradley, Todd Perry, Dean Wells
1994: Melvin Johnson
1997: Kio Sanford
1998: Craig Yeast
2000: Omar Smith
2007: Rafael Little, Jacob Tamme, Andre’ Woodson, Wesley Woodyard
2009: John Conner, Trevard Lindley
2010: Derrick Locke
2014: Za’Darius Smith
ROBINSON IN NFLPA BOWL: Kentucky wide receiver Demarco Robinson also played in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl on Saturday for the National Team. The third player in UK history to see time in the NFLPA Bowl, Robinson returned two punts for 37 yards, including a 22-yard return.
Robinson played in all 12 games as a senior in 2014, totaling 33 receptions for 501 yards, including a long of 79. He returned 24 punts for a total of 178 yards, including a long of 22 and 10 kickoff returns for a total of 195 yards, with a long of 41. Robinson had1,028 receiving yards to become just the 24th player in UK history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a career.