The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2018 THE WOLVERINE 67   COMMITMENT PROFILE F or most of Kentwood (Mich.) East Kentwood four-star defensive tackle Mazi Smith's recruitment, it felt like a Penn State versus Michigan battle and in late June, the Wolver- ines won out. The 6-3, 302-pounder was on cam- pus in Ann Arbor leading up to his commitment, but it was the big pic- ture that led Smith to choosing the Wolverines. "I had been thinking about it for a long time," Smith said. "This wasn't something just from the visit; the seeds were planted back in my fresh- man year when Coach [Greg] Mat- tison first recruited me." The veteran defensive line coach certainly had a big role in landing Smith, but the rising senior defensive tackle saw the big picture at U-M and wanted to be a part of it. "I saw the caliber of student-athlete they had up there," Smith said. "Be- ing able to hold conversations with people and relate to people there was important. I saw that I fit in with who they were recruiting, and I fit in with the people who are already there. I just knew it was a perfect fit." Current Wolverines also had a role in making Smith feel comfort- able about his future in Ann Arbor. He's already thinking about playing with guys that are currently wearing maize and blue. "During my visit, I spent the ma- jority of my time with the defensive line, the guys that are already there," Smith said. "I am going to be coming in as a baby, and they are going to show me the ropes. "Mike Dwumfour is going to be there, and Ron Johnson is going to be there. They have done it, and they are going to show me how to do it." East Kentwood head coach An- thony Kimbrough also sees Michigan as the right choice for Smith. "I think it's a great fit," Kimbrough said. "I'm really excited about his de- cision. He had many other offers out there, some really good ones. Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, Notre Dame — they all really had him at the top of their boards as one of the top defensive linemen in the country, so for him to stay home at Michigan, it's just a blessing. "It just felt right from day one. Michigan showed him the most love, and they really spent quality time with him. He grew up a Michigan guy, which didn't hurt. I think the fit and relationship he has with Coach Mattison separated Michigan from the other colleges." While the decision to commit to Michigan was obviously Mazi's, and Mattison played a huge role in that with his future player, the D-line coach also won over Kimbrough. Be- ing able to bond with both young players and high school coaches is one of the things that' makes Mat- tison dynamite on the recruiting trail. "I love Coach Mattison," Kimbrough said. "He comes to our high school, and shows up not just to talk to Mazi, but my coaching staff, my strength guys. It's not a pit-stop when he comes here. He spends quality time with us." Smith had a strong junior season at East Kentwood and was named to the Division I all-state team by both The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. He plays both offense and de- fense for the Falcons, and has been described as good enough to play on either side of the ball at the next level. That has him ranked as the No. 9 defensive tackle and No. 160 overall prospect nationally by He's also the No. 7 player in Michi- gan, making him a nice win on the trail for Jim Harbaugh and his staff. — Brandon Brown Wolverines Hold Off Penn State To Nab In-State Four-Star Mazi Smith Smith is ranked as a four-star talent, the No. 7 prospect in Michigan, and the No. 9 defensive tackle and the No. 160 overall player nationally by PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Mazi Smith has a phenomenal combination of size, athleticism, burst and strength. He is rated highly because he is a complete player on the interior of a defensive line. His skill set allows him to be a strong pass rusher from the inside and also makes him a great run stopper. Areas Of Improvement: Smith has all of the tools to be a great defensive tackle, but he needs to be more consistent. Sometimes he looks dominant and other times he has a tendency to fade into the background. He's very talented and built perfectly for his position, but he needs to put it together for four quarters every game. Michigan Player Comparison: At 6-3, 302 pounds as a rising senior, Smith looks like a bigger version of former Michigan standout Willie Henry, who was around 6-2, 280 pounds at the same stage in high school. Smith is rated higher as a four-star prospect, but has the same type of body and skill set as Henry, who made a lot of plays at Michigan and now suits up for the Baltimore Ravens. — Analysis from

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