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7 DAYS TO 2021 KICKOFF: TJ Smith

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In which BracketCat counts down the seventh day until the 2021 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State defensive back TJ Smith.

#7 Kevion McGee
Kevion McGee’s (7) graduation after 2019 opened up his jersey number for incoming defensive back TJ Smith, who had a few flash plays and big hits in 2020 before tearing his ACL and using a redshirt.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

Goal No. 7: GREAT EFFORT.

#7 TJ Smith

Redshirt Freshman | 5-9 | 190 lbs. | Atlanta, Georgia
TJ Smith
TJ Smith
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Defensive Back
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Second-String
  • Status: On Scholarship

Tajiri Shemar “TJ” Smith (b. Sept. 23, 2001) is a defensive back from McEachern High School in Atlanta who enrolled in spring 2020 and is majoring in business administration.

Smith played in each of the first four games of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season prior to a season-ending injury and tallied seven tackles on the year, including a season-high four stops against Texas Tech. He also had a pair of tackles in K-State’s win at No. 3 Oklahoma.

Smith prepped under head coach Franklin Stephens at McEachern, where he was rated the 62nd-best cornerback in the Class of 2020 by Rivals, and registered 41 tackles and 10 passes defended as a senior.

He helped to lead the Indians to a 12-1 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the state championship in 2019 after the team went 14-1 and earned a state championship during his sophomore season in 2017.

Smith selected K-State over offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, Houston, Howard, Kentucky, Liberty, Louisville, Memphis, Morehouse, Ohio, South Alabama, South Florida, Syracuse, Tennessee State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky, as well as interest from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Northwestern and Ohio State.

He previously was committed to and later de-committed from the University of Memphis.

Smith’s primary recruiter at K-State was running backs coach Brian Anderson. His brother, Christopher Smith II, currently is a senior defensive back at Georgia.

Smith reportedly is working out at the free safety position this fall and has a chance to start.

Here’s what assistant head coach, passing game defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Van Malone had to say about him last year:

“(Smith)’s a young player with tremendous intensity. He loves football. He plays hard. He’s a vocal guy. So, I anticipate all the things that we said about Jahron (McPherson), we’re going to be saying the same kinds of things about TJ as he continues on in his career. He’s a very competitive and very intense young man.”

Don’t just take his word for it, though. Head coach Chris Klieman had this to say of Smith:

“TJ Smith will be a kid that helps us this year. He just understands the game of football. Credit TJ, he works his tail off from a mental standpoint.”

Smith is known best for his hitting, which he delivers with crushing ferocity to the delight of fans. Hoperfully, he will bounce back well from his season-ending injury and rehabilitation.