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Michigan football losing star defensive tackle to NFL Draft

Monday afternoon, Michigan football defensive tackle Mazi Smith announced that he will be declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.



Credit: Nolan Shelby

Monday afternoon, Michigan football lost another key contributor from the 2022 roster. Mazi Smith — a star defensive tackle on the 2021 and 2022 rosters — will be heading to the 2023 NFL Draft.

Mazi Smith’s time with Michigan football

Mazi Smith, a 6-3, 337 lbs senior defensive tackle for Michigan football, is currently a senior at the University of Michigan. Smith is a four-year letter winner at U-M and has appeared in 37 games with the Wolverines making 27 starts in the Maize and Blue.

During his time in Ann Arbor, Smith became a two-time All-Big Ten selection (1st-Team 2022, Honorable Mention 2021), a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, and a two-time Big Ten Champion. Heading into the 2022 Michigan football season, Smith topped The Athletic’s annual ‘Freaks List.’ In 2021, Mazi Smith won Michigan’s Richard Katcher Award, and in 2022, Smith won the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Mazi Smith’s college statistics

Though Smith plays defensive tackle — a position that typically does not perform well on the stat sheet — he has compiled some impressive numbers in the Maize and Blue:

  • 89 total tackles
  • 39 solo tackles
  • 50 assisted tackles
  • Three passes defended
  • One sack
  • One forced-fumble

Smith’s role with the Wolverines went far beyond the box score; in fact, over the past two years (especially 2022) Smith was one of the most impactful members of Michigan’s elite defense. There is a reason Mazi Smith was selected selected as a 1st-team All Big-Ten athlete last season as well as earning Michigan’s DPOY award. Smith’s presence on the defensive line was more important that most realize, and his ability to close rushing lanes and eat up blockers will be missed in 2023.

Though his declaration for the Draft was expected, it is still a huge hit to Michigan’s defense. Smith should be high on many team’s draft boards, and we wouldn’t be shocked if he is a day one or two draft pick this year. We wish Mazi Smith the best of luck as he makes the transition from college ball to the professional level.

CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.