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7 DAYS TO 2022 KICKOFF: TJ Smith

In which BracketCat counts down the seventh day until the 2022 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State safety TJ Smith.

#7 TJ Smith
You simply can’t publish a preview of safety TJ Smith (7) without a picture of him laying the wood to some poor wide receiver like Xavier Worthy (8).
Photo by Tim Warner/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.


#7 TJ Smith

Redshirt Sophomore | 5-10 | 190 lbs. | Atlanta, Georgia
TJ Smith
TJ Smith
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Safety
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Starter
  • 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.

A seven-game starter who played in all 13 games of 2021, Smith ranked eighth on the team with 39 tackles and bookended the regular season with an interception against Stanford — which he returned 39 yards — paired with another one at Texas.

He also broke up passes against Southern Illinois and Kansas, recovered a fumble against Baylor, set a career high with seven tackles at Oklahoma State and had five apiece against Southern Illinois and Iowa State, and was a second-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree.

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.

Here’s what assistant head coach, passing game defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Van Malone had to say about Smith in 2020:

“(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 from his multiple injury troubles through the years.