By Noah Allison–
In high school, Marcus Smith was making a name for himself from behind center as a big, bruising quarterback; in his third year at U of L he has made a name for himself being a big, quarterback-bruising defensive end.
“I’ve been playing football since I was five years old, my daddy got me into it because he just wanted me to get out there and be active,” Smith said. “I played quarterback in high school, I had been playing quarterback since I was five years old, when I got here they switched me over, so I’ve only been playing defensive line for two and a half years now.”
Last season, despite missing three games due to injury, Smith led the team in sacks with five and a half. With just two years of prior experience at the position, Smith still contributes greatly to a team with defensive prowess, but recognizes where improvement is needed.
“The whole d-line, including myself, needs to improve at pass rushing, just getting to the quarterback. Our interior guys need to get a better push, our outside guys just have to continue to rush and get past those offensive tackles faster,” Smith said.
Smith, a former quarterback turned defensive end, has also proven to have some hands. With an interception in the UNC game and two surprise two-point conversion receptions early in the season, Smith has left opposing teams a reason to be on their toes at all times he is on the field.
“We started working on the two-point conversions maybe the second week of camp. I really like my role in those, coach trusted me to go up there and catch the ball, so I just do it for him, catch the ball, and we get two extra points,” Smith said. “In that Kentucky game, when the ball was up in the air I was just thinking like oh man, am I going to catch this or am I about to drop it? But thankfully I caught it and that was it.”
The Cardinals begin conference play next weekend at the University of Pittsburgh; Smith and the rest of the defensive line will have to play a huge role for U of L’s success.
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal