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Mazi Smith’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

The senior has the potential to put up big numbers this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Michigan at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mazi Smith has always been a Michigan kid, as he came to the Michigan Wolverines from Grand Rapids, where he played high school ball at East Kentwood.

As a senior in high school, Smith helped lead his team to a division title and playoff appearance by putting up some impressive statistics — 81 tackles, 18 for loss and three forced fumbles. East Kentwood eventually fell in the state quarterfinals.

Smith was among the top players in the 2019 class, ranked on the composite as the No. 105 overall player and the No. 11 defensive tackle. This led to quite the impressive offer list from big football schools like Alabama, Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. At the end of the day, Smith liked what he saw in Ann Arbor and wanted to be close to home, so he committed to play for Michigan.

During his freshman and sophomore years, Smith didn’t get a ton of playing time, playing in just two games in 2019 and five games in the shortened 2020 season. But Smith took a huge step in 2021, starting in all 14 games compiling 37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and four quarterback hurries. Those impressive numbers earned Smith an All-Big Ten honorable mention.

The Nebraska game specifically was a special one for Smith as he had six tackles, his career-high, resulting in him being named defensive player of the week. He also had a monster game against Maryland where he had his career-best five solo tackles.

Outlook for 2022

After taking a huge leap a year ago, expectations are high for Smith going into 2022. The Wolverines lost a lot of talent on the defensive line from 2021, and Smith is someone who can pick up some of that slack. If Smith takes a similar jump to the one he had last year, we could be looking at a monster season from the senior.