Mere weeks after signing on as Kentucky's head football coach, Mark Stoops has collected a couple of important signatures of his own.
On national junior-college signing day, Stoops landed Za'Darius Smith, one of the top defensive ends in the nation.
"There were some high-fives in the office this morning," Stoops said during his first news conference since his introduction as coach Dec. 2. "It makes you feel very good about the future."
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Smith announced his decision Wednesday at Greenville (Ala.) High School. He played at East Mississippi Community College for Jimmy Brumbaugh, who signed on himself Tuesday to be UK's new defensive line coach.
Smith, a four-star player out of high school, is the first of that caliber to commit in this recruiting class.
Rivals.com reported that Smith had offers from Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M and West Virginia.
Stoops called it a unique situation since Smith has never been on UK's campus (he had already used his five official visits) and he signed anyway.
"He believes in the people that are here at Kentucky and the staff that we put together," Stoops said.
At his news conference Wednesday, Smith said as much.
"I just feel comfortable here," he said. "Coach Stoops is a defensive man. (Brumbaugh) coached me for a year and he got me where I need to be, as in all the SEC and ACC offers. I can continue that and just go on to bigger and better places with him."
In two seasons at East Mississippi, Smith had 66 tackles and 11 sacks. This season, he had 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
"He'll be great against the run, great pass rusher, just an impact type of guy," Stoops said. "For him to come in and address the situation at defensive end was very critical."
Smith seemed happy to be headed to UK.
"I can do a lot at Kentucky," he said. "I know the head coach. We're going to make big plays together."
Smith, ranked No. 1 by JCGridiron.com and the nation's No. 2 defensive end by ESPN, wasn't the only reason Kentucky's coaches were slapping hands on Wednesday.
The staff also picked up papers from Steven Borden, a junior-college tight end out of Texas. Borden's original interest was to play for Neal Brown at Texas Tech, but when he took over the offense at UK, Borden followed.
Both players are set to graduate in December and plan to enroll at UK in January. They will have two years of eligibility left.
Stoops seemed pleased the 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end joined up.
"Once Neal brought him to the table, we were able to watch film on him, I loved him and felt like there was a need, felt like he was a very versatile player," the head coach said.
Borden, an all-conference selection from Kilgore College in Texas, is the son of former professional wrestler Steve Borden, who is known in those circles as "Sting."
Stoops said it was fun to get to know both father and son.
But will there be any wrestling matches in the near future between coach and father?
"I asked him in the indoor (facility) if he wanted to throw around a little bit but he didn't want any piece of me."
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com