Corbin’s Smith brothers could have big upsides at UK

Published 10:30 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

By Larry Vaught

Contributing Columnist

As soon as Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow found out twins Jerod and Jacob Smith were returning to Kentucky for their final high school football season, he was “full speed ahead” again with their recruitment again.

The two four-star defensive standouts started their prep careers at Somerset High School and won a state championship before going to prep school in Connecticut for two years. They were both top 300 prospects nationally and originally committed to Michigan.

“I really loved recruiting them,” said Marrow. “My belief is if I am working at Ohio State, ain’t no kids getting out of Ohio. In Kentucky, I feel part of our culture in 12 years is that none of the top targets are going to get out of here. I made a statement that we got every target in the state we wanted this year and they certainly were a big part of that.”

Jerod Smith is a 6-4, 245-pounder who had nine sacks and 20 tackles for loss last season and is regarded as a top-10 edge rusher nationally. Marrow said Jerod reminds him of his former NFL teammate Bruce Smith — the NFL’s all-time career leader in quarterback sacks with 200 who earned 11 Pro Bowl selections, appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls with the Bills and is in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He is a poor man’s Bruce Smith the way he carries himself. The first step is so explosive,” Marrow said. “I told (UK defensive coordinator) Brad Smith that he reminds me of Bruce Smith and a little bit of Josh Paschal. He has a lot of Paschal too. He is just a hard worker, determined player who has a chance to be very special.

“But to be honest, I look at Jacob and think his upside is probably bigger than a lot of guys in our (signing) class. He is 6-5, 245, athletic, big legs and just really long. I think his upside will be huge.”

Jerod Smith played in last week’s Under Armour All-American Game. Jacob Smith was also picked to play in the game but did not participate because of a shoulder injury.

“He still has a little time left in a sling,” Jerod Smith Sr. said. “Throughout the season he had a little pain in his shoulder. We took him to the doctor at UK who did an MRI and told me if it was his son he would let him continue to play as long as he had complete range of movement and then get it fixed when the season was over. It really wasn’t that painful for him unless he made a tackle directly with the shoulder and if he did ever grab his shoulder, the trainer would take him out. So he’s going to be fine.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said it was a “joy” to recruit the twins even when they were in school in Connecticut.

“They’re very mature young men. They work extremely hard and I think they’re the type of guys that can have an impact very quickly,” Stoops said. “They’re both tremendous football players right now with great upside, but they’re different people. They’ll tell you that.

“We’ll coach them differently, you know what I mean? Try to hone in on what each of them need on that particular day and help them grow and become the best players they can be on and off the field. I’m very excited about those two.”

The twins’ father said White gave the family a clear plan for how Kentucky will use each player but the parents will be fine if they are slowly worked into the defensive plan.

“Me and my wife want them to get there and get worked in slowly but I think they might get fed to the wolves,” Smith Sr. said. “They are 19 and physically ready but they need to get ready mentally for SEC football.

“Coach White has told me how he plans to use the boys. They love him and his system. Kentucky has always let us know exactly what position the boys will play but they have never told us when they will play and that’s been fine with us.”