Smith Selected in Fourth Round
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky defensive end Za'Darius Smith was chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2015 National Football League Draft on Saturday afternoon in Chicago.
A former junior-college star, Smith was Coach Mark Stoops' first Kentucky signee in December, 2012, and started all 24 games in the 2013 and '14 seasons. He totaled 120 tackles over the two campaigns and his 14 tackles for loss featured 10.5 quarterback sacks.
As a senior, Smith made 61 tackles, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, adding four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He had a career-high 11 tackles at Florida, adding a sack and a pass breakup. He also notched eight tackles against No. 1 ranked Mississippi State, with 2.5 TFL and a sack.
Smith totaled 59 tackles as a junior, and his 6.5 tackles for loss included six quarterback sacks. He also had six QB hurries. He had a season-high nine tackles at Georgia and his career-best three sacks came against Miami (Ohio).
Smith came to UK from East Mississippi Community College, where he made 47 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and six sacks in his sophomore year. He was named second-team All-America by the National Junior College Athletic Association. As a freshman, he made 19 tackles, with seven total TFL and 4.5 sacks, as East Mississippi posted a 12-0 record and won the 2011 NJCAA national championship.
Smith was a relative latecomer to the game. A basketball player at Greenville (Ala.) High School, he didn't begin playing football until his senior year at GHS.
Smith comes from an athletic family. An older brother, Bob Meeks, played center at Auburn and for the NFL's Denver Broncos. A cousin, Davern Williams, played at Troy and for the NFL's New York Giants. Za'Darius also has a niece, Kristi Mokube, who played basketball at Florida State.
Smith stayed productive following the 2014 season. First, he completed his bachelor's degree in community and leadership development in December. In Jan. 2015, he was named Most Valuable Defensive Player in the East-West Shrine Game and he also played in the Senior Bowl.
There have been two Wildcats who have played for the Ravens' franchise. Defensive end Chris Ward was a 1997 draftee and played one year with the team. Running back Moe Williams played one season (2001) of his 10-year NFL career with Baltimore.
Smith is the second Wildcat selected in this year's draft. Linebacker/defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree was chosen in the first round by Pittsburgh.