Syndication: Detroit Free Press

Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith is facing a felony weapons charge, Washtenaw County records show, but will still be a member of the Wolverines football team moving forward as he navigates the legal process. The charge stems from an Oct. 7 incident, of which there are no details, though it wasn't filed until Nov. 30. 

The statute under which Smith was charged says a person "may not carry a pistol, concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person without a license" and that they "cannot carry the pistol in a place or manner inconsistent with any restrictions upon such license." The charges are punishable with jail time up to five years or a $2,500 fine. 

"We are aware of the charge against Mazi from a traffic stop back in October," said athletic director Warde Manuel in a statement. "Mazi was honest, forthcoming and cooperative from the very beginning and is a tremendous young man. He is not and never has been considered a threat to the University or community."

Smith, a senior, has appeared in every game for Michigan this season.

"I have respect for our judicial process and with that respect brings confidence that a fair and just resolution is forthcoming," said coach Jim Harbaugh. "Mazi's character and the trust that he has earned over the past four years will continue to be considered throughout the process."

The No. 2 Wolverines are playing Purdue in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and are in great position to make the College Football Playoff for a second consecutive season.

At 6-foot-3 and 337 pounds, Smith has been a force on the interior of the Wolverines' defense with 43 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, this season. Smith first emerged as a stalwart on the defensive line for Michigan in 2021 with 37 tackles after playing scarcely his first two seasons on campus. 

Though listed as senior, Smith could have at least one more season of collegiate eligibility since he appeared in just two games in 2019 and because the 2020 season did not count against the eligibility of players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also appears to have a promising NFL future. Smith is ranked the No. 63 overall player in the 2023 CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings and is the No. 8 defensive lineman in the rankings.