Coming out of High School, Mazi Smith was a four-star prospect with a ton of room to grow. As a Michigan native, Smith understood the challenge that comes with playing at the University of Michigan and took that challenge head-on. The result? After four years in the program, Smith has transformed his mind and body from a work-in-progress to a future NFL draft pick.
"The definition of 'hard work pays off' is just screaming when you see Mazi Smith," said teammate Mike Morris. "I feel like if a brick wall could move...that's Mazi Smith."
"When I first got to Michigan, I knew I had to get in better shape," said Smith. "I was 345 (pounds) when I got here. I got with our nutritionist - we were like, lose all the fat, lose all the bad weight. I've got to build myself up and try to shape myself into the type of player I wanted to say."
While Smith's stats won't necessarily jump off the paper for the average fan, those who study the game of football are fully aware of the massive impact that he has on Saturday's - including defensive coordinator Jesse Minter.
"Mazi's our nose tackle - it's not a glamorous position," said Minter. "We talk about 'block destruction' being a core value of our defense, he is our block destructor."
Although Smith hasn't reached his full potential yet, he believes he has all of the tools to get there...and so do his coaches.
"You don't work this hard for no reason," said Smith. "A couple of my coaches told me that I've got a rare blend of attributes - size, speed, strength, athletic ability...all of this stuff. That can make for a real problem. A game wrecker. Somebody that you've got to pay attention to all of the time, somebody that's a mismatch no matter where he's at. That's what I'm striving to be. I don't think that I've reached that yet, but I will."