SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 6

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 6.

Reed Embracing Leadership Role

By EJ Holland

A leader is someone who pushes and guides his team in the right direction, and that's exactly what SMU senior linebacker Taylor Reed wants to do this season.

Reed plays with unparalleled emotion and heart but sometimes he lets his temper get the best of him, as was the case against Southern Miss last year. He failed to set a good example for his teammates and was suspended for the following game.

However, Reed has put the incident behind him and even called it the ‘most embarrassing' moment of his career. A quiet person by nature, a matured Reed is now attempting to be more vocal on the field.

"As a senior, it's my time to step up and take on that full role of being a leader. I'm not really a vocal guy but this year, I'm trying to be more vocal," Reed said. "I'm trying to help out the young guys, and that's all it's about. I've been here for four years, and we put in a lot of stuff really fast so it's important to help them."

Reed has been a dominant force for the Mustangs the past two seasons. The 6-foot, 240-pounder started when he was a sophomore and really elevated his level of play as a junior in 2011 with a team-leading 101 tackles. Reed explained that the experience has helped slow the game down significantly, allowing him to make more plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.

"It's great having three years of experience. It's key," Reed said. "I can't stress that enough. You already know what's coming. The game really slows down."

That experience combined with his work ethic and leadership should make Reed one of the top linebackers in Conference USA This summer, Reed specifically worked on upper body strength and set a new personal best on the bench press.

"I just got in the weight room and tried to get stronger. I try to pride myself in the bench press. I wanted 475, and I failed at it, but I'll take 465," Reed said. "I also worked on lower body earlier but as it got closer to camp, you stop lifting as heavy in order to avoid injuries. Coach Mel (deLaura) did a good job with us this summer. He switched it up on us. We would run long distance then get up on the Hilltop and run those hills."

Reed hopes to share his knowledge and understanding of the defensive scheme with a slew of young linebackers. The depth at the position is arguably the best on the team and Reed has taken notice.

"It's great to have so much depth at linebacker," he said. "It's been fun playing with Ja'Gared (Davis) for almost four years. Cameron Rogers holds it down with me on the inside. Stephon Sanders is a young, but we expect big things from him. We are just so deep. I don't think I've ever seen us have a fifth string linebacker here."

Despite being around talented players that have gone on to play in the NFL, Reed believes this is the best defense he's ever been on and expects nothing less than to be a part of one of the nation's best defensive units.

"We can do special things defensively if everybody buys in to the system. We're shooting for a top-10 or top-15 defense this year," Reed said. "I believe this is the best defense I've been on at SMU.

"Our corners J.R. (Richardson) and (Kenneth) Acker are stout. Ryan Smith has another year of experience and Jay Scott is back there. Us linebackers are back. Up front, Margus (Hunt) has another year of experience. He's going to do special things. We still have (Torlan) Pittman there and Kevin Grenier stepping in. This definitely could be our best defense."

Video: WR Darius Joseph talks about his fall camp experience

Williams Defying Odds, Battling Back From Severe Injury

By Beionny Mickles

In the fourth quarter of the BBVA Compass Bowl last season, running back Jared Williams suffered a horrifically gruesome injury.

For all those that witnessed the terribly unfortunate play, it was immediately apparent that his leg was broken. So naturally, seeing Jared Williams on the field for the Mustangs' fall camp eight months after the injury was a bit of a surprise.

Williams, a sophomore out of Bradenton (FL), has been working very diligently to get himself back in shape for the season and right now, he's ahead of schedule.

"We're pretty ahead of schedule. We're just waiting until that bone gets real good, and I'll be out here performing," Williams said.

Williams, who did a nice job of filling in for starter Zach Line after he suffered a foot injury in week 10, hasn't been able to participate in all of the drills with his teammates as of yet, however, he has been doing a number of special workouts and exercises that are helping to get his leg stronger as the days go on.

"Rehab's going pretty well," Williams said after practice on Friday. "I've been running, doing some cone drills. Percentage wise, I'd say I'm about 70 percent."

Although Williams will only have a limited role until he's healthy enough to play at a high level, depth at running back for the Mustangs isn't a huge concern. As of today the Mustangs have six running backs on the roster other than Williams including Zach and Prescott Line, sophomore Rishaad Wimbley, who saw playing time last year and redshirt freshman K.C. Nlemchi.

Williams says he expects to be fully involved in all of the teams' activities around October but for now, he'll work with the scout team and whatever else the coaches want him to do. He believes that even without him, the running backs are still a solid unit and whoever gets called on come game time will be ready.

"I just want to help the guys out however I can. If they need me to help out on scout team, I'll try to do it for them," Williams said. "Everybody can have an impact. Whoever they decide to put out there will be ready."

Day 6 Observations

- Austin Fuller returned to the field today after missing yesterday's practice for an unspecified reason

- Fuller made a nice diving catch during warm up drills and even received compliments from the defense on the other side of the field

- Stephen Nelson once again sat out with a hyperextended knee

- Neal Burcham did not practice today and was wearing a sleeve on his right elbow. He did not comment on the situation.

- Freshman offensive lineman Sam Rice worked with the first team today at left guard

- Cameron Rogers made a nice play during 7-on-7 drills when he broke up a pass but was yelled at by defensive coordinator Tom Mason for not getting there fast enough to make the interception

- The defense dominated 7-on-7 today forcing the offense to throw three straight interceptions at one point; Arrius Holleman had a ball hit him in the numbers and it deflected off of his pads and landed into the hands of Cameron Rogers, Conner Preston threw an interception to Kenneth Acker, and Garret Krstich threw an interception to Ja'Gared Davis

- Dropped balls continue to occur regularly throughout practice. Seven dropped balls in 7-on-7 drill and two dropped balls in the 11-on-11 scrimmage

- Der'rikk Thompson dropped a perfect pass from Garrett Gilbert down the sideline after beating freshman cornerback Ajee Montes. Gilbert and Thompson have yet to connect on a deep ball in a scrimmage

- Freshman walk-on Aaron Stafford ran a beautiful double move past the safety and Gilbert put the ball on the money, but the ball went through his fingers

- Jeremy Johnson showed off his arm when he threw back a ball to the coaches after running a route. He still looks like he could complete a pass or two

- Preston stepped up in the pocket and threw Jeremy Johnson a dart to the sideline. Johnson was able to keep both feet in bounds

- Zach Line scrimmaged in 11-on-11 today and was welcomed emphatically by the defense with a melodic "Zach Line!"

- K.C. Nlemchi caught a few balls out of the backfield today and looked pretty good after the catch

- The defense is starting to have regular pre-snap conversation, which is always great to see. Really starting to read things well

- A scout from the Carolina Panthers watched practice today and was mainly checking out Margus Hunt

- Highland Park coaches also observed today's practice

- Quote of the Day: "I'm on an island baby! I'm on an island Gilbert! Throw it! Throw it deep!!!" –CB Kenneth Acker

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