- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
SCOOBA, Miss. -- Za'Darius Smith was a basketball player growing up. He played just one season of organized football in high school but still finished with 31 tackles and eight sacks. When basketball fell through, he turned his attention to the gridiron, where he signed with East Mississippi Community College.
Switching to football turned out to be a good decision for Smith.
Now in his second year at juco, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive end prospect has scholarship offers from Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State, South Alabama, Texas A&M, Troy and West Virginia.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Smith said. “Coming up, I didn’t know I would have this much talent and have this many people want me to come play for their school.”
The Alabama native visited Florida State last Saturday for the Clemson game. He plans to take an official visit to West Virginia this weekend and says the Mountaineers are recruiting him the hardest right now.
Through four games this season, Smith already has 18 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. EMCC defensive coordinator William Jones gave him a chance to play football, and he’s making the most of it.
“When I first got here, they knew I wasn’t ready, but they gave me a chance to come in and play because they knew I had some talent in me,” Smith said. “They just said ‘be calm and your time will come.’ Now it’s here.”