Louisville football: The 50 greatest Cardinals of all time

Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
2 of 50
Marcus Smith, Louisville Cardinals
Marcus Smith, Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Marcus Smith had a unique path to stardom, but once he found his fit, it changed his life forever.

Smith arrived at Louisville as a quarterback but quickly transitioned to linebacker. He spent most of his first two seasons learning the Cardinals’ defense, eventually rotating into the starting lineup near the end of his sophomore season at linebacker.

As his career progressed, Smith’s body transformation was a big deal. He was able to transition from linebacker to defensive end. Once he started putting his hand in the ground on the defensive line, his career took off.

Smith made his presence known in a breakthrough performance in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. Then in 2014, he put together an All-American type of season, leading the country with 16 sacks. Smith started opposite another Cardinal great in Lorenzo Mauldin. Together, they became the best one-two punch in the country, forcing teams to gameplan for Louisville’s stifling pass rush.

Louisville’s defenses were phenomenal during the Charlie Strong era, but they would not have been the same without Smith on the edge in 2012 and 2013. In a year where Louisville was just one win away from going to back-to-back BCS Bowl games and featured Teddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker on offense, Smith was still perhaps the team’s most dangerous player.

After graduating at Louisville, Smith was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks the and Washington Redskins.