The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, the Pony Stampede will provide exclusive stories and information on SMU basketball, football, and recruiting that you can't find anywhere else!

Holloway Still Trying To Make It To SMU

By Billy Embody

One major absence from fall camp for the SMU Mustangs has been freshman defensive end Christian Holloway. Holloway ran into eligibility issues in the spring and rumors swirled about whether it was grades, NCAA Clearinghouse issues or character issues.

Head coach June Jones has not commented on Holloway's situation yet. When reached via text message Friday night, Holloway was shy about detailing the situation.

"It's a mixture of all that with me proving myself to the NCAA about my character and work I've done," Holloway said when asked about what the NCAA has been looking into regarding his eligibility.

‘Old paperwork' is what is apparently holding up Holloway from participating in camp. Holloway did confirm that he will be back in Dallas on Wednesday to enroll for fall classes, but his eligibility has yet to be determined.

"I will be there next week for sure though. I got my plane ticket," Holloway said.

When Holloway does arrive back and is finally eligible to be on the field with his teammates, the highly touted recruit doesn't have any doubt about what he is going to use as motivation for this year.

"I sat out last semester, but I'm going to make this negative into a positive and use it to my advantage of me being hungry to get back out there," Holloway said.

The Mustangs could have this talented, young player back on the field shortly before the start of the regular season and if he has stayed in shape, he could be a key addition for the depth of the defense.

Vilde May Be Rejoining Basketball Team

By EJ Holland

SMU basketball has one scholarship open for this year and this year only. Ricmonds Vilde, who was dismissed from the team upon Larry Brown's arrival, could in fact re-earn his scholarship.

Multiple sources have told me that Vilde has met with SMU coaches and is just one step away from being back on the team. Sources also said that Leslee Smith was contacted, but he's already on his way to play at Seward C.C. in Kansas.

Vilde could provide some depth down low and help groom freshmen Blaise Mbargorba and Jordan Dickerson during practice. Vilde may even end up in the rotation if both of them struggle early on.

Last season, Vilde averaged 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.

4-Star SF Will Officially Visit SMU

By Billy Embody

2013 Roselle Catholic (N.J.) 4-star small forward Tyler Roberson has recently announced his top ten schools, which includes the likes of Villanova, Syracuse, Kansas, Florida, Alabama and a few others as well as SMU.

Roberson, has already said he plans to visit Syracuse and Kansas on official visits, but Roberson recently said that he will take an official visit to SMU, and Larry Brown is a major reason why SMU has been high on Roberson's list.

"That's a big reason why I like SMU. I feel like he is one of the best coaches that is coaching now with the NBA and college championship and that means a lot," Roberson said.

SMU had their eye on Roberson before Brown got to SMU and Roberson has stayed familiar with the Dallas-based program through former AAU teammate and SMU player Blaise Mbargorba.

"Before Coach Brown came, they were recruiting me so they have been recruiting me for awhile. One of my AAU teammates from last year goes there so he's been letting me know about school and all that," Roberson said.

All of the schools in Roberson's top-10 are recruiting him as a small forward, but expect that top-10 to be trimmed to five by next month. The top five schools will receive official visits from Roberson and a decision could come by the end of the fall.

Until then, Roberson will continue to work on all aspects of his game.

"I want to improve on everything as a basketball player. I think I can always get better like my post game, my perimeter game just everything overall," Roberson said. "Every game I got to play hard and give it all I got. Skill wise I think I can do a lot of different things to help the team and I can play a lot of different positions."

Roberson's balanced game will give whatever team gets him some height to the small forward position at 6-foot-7, but Roberson will also need to pack on some weight, as he is just 205 now. Roberson is ranked in the top 100 of most recruiting services so SMU's continued push for this star could net the coaching staff a huge commitment.

Baxter Still Visiting?

By EJ Holland

SMU wide receiver commit Jarvis Baxter was supposed to be on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit last weekend but rescheduled due to his work schedule.

Now, Baxter is supposed to be watching practice this morning, but it is unclear if he will actually attend.

"I honestly don't know if I'll even get to go. I have to go to a family function so I'm not really sure," Baxter said. "I really want to go and even facebooked Ja'Bryce Taylor about going together, but like I said, I have a family function."

Baxter has now cancelled trips to Baylor, SMU and Texas A&M this summer, all for different reasons.

More On Gilbert

By EJ Holland

Getting to SMU was certainly no dream scenario for Garrett Gilbert. Before arriving on the Hilltop, Gilbert was forced to take a brutal 27 hours during his final semester at Texas.

"It was pretty crazy. In October, Coach (June) Jones asked me if there was anyway I could graduate, and I said no way, not a chance," Gilbert said. "I sent him my transcripts, and I found out there was a chance. I just had to take 27 hours, which I thought was nearly impossible. I told myself if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. I had a lot of help from family and friends."

Gilbert will now pursue a master's degree in liberal arts at SMU but will have to balance graduate school and football. This summer, Gilbert was in quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison's office often frequently along with June Jones in order to learn his new offense.

"Getting to know Coach (Dan) Morrison over the last few months has been great," Gilbert said. "He has a wealth of knowledge and being able to learn from him has been great. I'm looking forward to learning more from him each and every day.

"Coach Jones is very hands on, and I like that. Obviously this is his offense so he knows it very well. He does a great job teaching it. He's able to talk to everyone so quarterbacks and receivers are learning at the same time so it does nothing but help."

Once Gilbert hit the field, he immediately began testing his new toys and hopes to build chemistry with his receivers before the opener against Baylor.

"I'm very excited about our four guys. Not only that, I'm excited about the depth behind them," Gilbert said I think we can have six to eight guys that are going to be able to catch passes or us and do a great job. If get them the ball in open field, I know good things are going to happen."

Cassel Recruiting Hard For SMU

By EJ Holland

SMU quarterback commit Kolney Cassel isn't going anywhere and could in fact have a few friends join him by the time it's all said and done. Cassel is the sole reason SMU extended an offer to speedster Tatum Taylor and has an advantage with Tere Calloway.

But Cassel is expanding his recruiting and will keep sending film to Dallas in hopes of improving this class.

"I don't know who might get offered but I sent in a whole bunch of film. I sent in probably like five d-linemen," Cassel said. "I sent in film recently from Reshon Watson from Bothell and Robert Davis from Florida. He runs like a 4.2 forty, and I sent in a whole bunch of receivers. "

We will be getting more names from Cassel soon.

Walk-On Wide Out Trying To Make A Name For Himself

By EJ Holland

Freshman walk-on wide receiver A.J. Buffini hopes to just make a name for himself at SMU. But in high school, Bufinni was a sensation.

As a senior at Christian Life Academy (CA), Buffini played both quarterback and defensive back as he passed for 890 yards, rushed for 1,105 yards, scored 28 total touchdowns and racked up 31 tackles en route to being named Citrus League Player of the Year.

"It's been different. You come out here with the same mentality of being the guy but everybody else has been the guy back in high school. That's been a transition. It definitely humbles me," Buffini said. "In the long run, I just want to be a player that can make big plays for this team whether it be at receiver or on special teams. I just want to be an athlete."

Buffini decided to take a semester off for personal reasons but arrived on the Hilltop this spring and participated in spring ball. The experienced helped him get accustomed to college football and has continued to show coaches during fall camp that he deserves to see the field.

"I've definitely been trying to get out there on special teams. I've been returning kicks during our coverage drills," Buffini said. "I'm trying to show my quickness and elusiveness. At receiver, I've just been learning plays and getting up to full speed."

Fellow walk-on and wide receiver has truly taken Buffini under his wing this summer. Nelson is already catching the attention of many, and Buffini hopes he can do the same under his guidance.

"Stephen is the best. On and off the field, he is the complete and total package," Buffini said. "He's a role model for me and all the younger guys on the team. He's definitely a guy I look up to that takes care of me. He knows when to rebuke and when to help me out in both football and life."

Foster Having Communication Issues With SMU

By EJ Holland

Marcus Foster recently listed SMU in his top three but not having heard from Mustang coaches has really disappointed the Wichita Falls Hirschi (TX) shooting guard.

"Right now, I don't really know what's up with SMU. They haven't really contacted me. I still like SMU everything, but I still like them," Foster explained. "The last time I spoke to them, Coach Ulric (Maligi) said they really liked. I know they've talked to my high school coach, but that's it."

Foster currently does not have an official visit planned for SMU but says it's possible. For now he's focused on seeing his top two schools- Creighton and Kansas State.

"My two favorites right now are Kansas State and Creighton. I love their coaches and they're really recruiting me hard," Foster said. "I really want to learn more about them both so I have official visits set up for both of their schools next month."

If Maligi does get back in contact with Foster, the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder says SMU will be right back up at the top of his list.

"If SMU does start contacting me again, they will definitely be one of my favorites along with Creighton, Kansas State, Marquette and Texas," he said.

Williams Picks Kansas State Over SMU

By EJ Holland

Dallas Skyline (TX) linebacker Isaiah Williams narrowed his list down to Colorado, Kansas State and SMU last month and decided to pull the trigger this week when he committed to Bill Snyder and the Wildcats.

"The big with Kansas State is the fact that I talk to them every week. It's just a great opportunity and they stood out to me more than other schools did," Williams said. "I'm solid to Kansas State unless something huge comes up, but I doubt that will happen. This opportunity is just a blessing."

Williams was strongly considering playing with teammate Roderick Moore on the Hilltop but ultimately it came down to early playing time.

"Kansas State has all three linebackers leaving. All three are seniors. If I were to go to SMU I don't think I could start right away where at Kansas State, I have a really good chance. At SMU, I would have to play behind somebody."

SMU Prospect Commits To Tulane

By Beionny Mickles

It seems that the city of New Orleans will be the new home for Miami Norland (FL) defensive back William Townsend, who committed to Tulane on Wednesday.

"I committed to Tulane today," Townsend said.

The 6-1 200-pound cornerback, who held an SMU offer, said that he never got in contact with the SMU coaching staff at all.

"All I know is that their coaches called my coaches to let them know that I had an offer," Townsend said. "That was as far as that went. I've really only been able to talk to the coaches at Tulane."

Tulane, which finished at the bottom of Conference USA in 2011, has been in regular contact with Townsend, who says that he's pretty solid on his commitment.

"Just about every other week; I've been able to call the coaches whenever I get a chance," Townsend said.

When asked about the strength of his verbal and if he would possibly be looking at other schools Townsend replied: "No, I'm strong on that one."

Townsend, who says he is interested in playing either cornerback or safety, hopes to have a big season for Miami Norland, wich took home the Florida 5A State Championship in 2011.

"For the upcoming season I hope to make All-American," Townsend said. "I'm planning on leading the county in interceptions and hopefully going back for another state title."

Townsend says that he could possibly make a visit to SMU in the fall but he'll have to wait and see how the year unfolds.

Brubaker Making Unofficial Visit

By Russell Palmer

Wylie East (TX) defensive end and SMU commit Jesse Brubaker could not be any more excited about the future of SMU football and plans to see why he takes a visit to SMU this morning.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end has visited SMU ‘a couple times already', but plans on seeing the Mustangs for the first time and has his eye set on one player in particular.

"I've met Margus Hunt, and I think he can help control the line of scrimmage." he said. "And that will help a lot of the defense, so the defense will be very solid."

Hunt, the monster defensive end out of Estonia, has played the part of role model to the young Brubaker, who hopes one day he can replace Hunt on the defensive line and make the same impact at SMU.

Brubaker has also developed a good relationship with defensive coordinator Tom Mason, who has told the versatile athlete that he wants Brubaker to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"I've talked to Coach (Tom) Mason," he said. "From what I understand they want me to play defensive end."

Mustang fans must not worry about losing Brubaker to another school, because when asked if he plans to take visits anywhere else, Brubaker quickly shot down the idea, and said he is ‘100 percent committed' to SMU.

With Gilbert Named Starter, Krstich Patiently Waiting In Wings

By Beionny Mickles

When June Jones decided to bring in former Texas Longhorn quarterback Garret Gilbert, the immediate assumption was that he would become the starter.

Jones did in fact name Gilbert the starter before camp and with Conner Preston looked at as his predecessor that leaves two quarterback's fighting for the third spot on the depth chart- true freshman Neal Burcham and redshirt freshman Garret Krstich.

Krstich, who was a preferred walk on out of California last year, says that there's a lot to learn from Preston and Gilbert, and he's been taking in mental reps while watching them in practice.

"I'm just trying to get as many reps as I can," Krstich said after practice on Thursday. "Gilbert has a lot of experience so it's good learning from him. Conner was here a year before me so he picked the offense a little quicker. I'm just learning from both of them."

Krstich says that June Jones' offense is more complex than what he was used to in high school but he hasn't had any problems learning it thus far. Because he and Preston have seen the Run N' Shoot for a full year now, Krstich has been able to help Gilbert and Burcham get up to speed.

"I redshirted last year so I have a little better grasp of the offense," Krstich said. "Me and Conner are trying to help Garret Gilbert and Neal pick up some of the extra things we know but for the most part, they have it down."

One thing that Krstich says he is fortunate for is the deep receiving corps that the Mustangs possess this year. Krstich believes that the versatility of the receiving unit might prove to be a strength of the Mustangs in 2012.

"There are a lot of hard workers out there, a lot of talent," Krstich said. "I feel like we have a lot of depth at the receiver position. We've got big guys, we've got small, fast guys, it's been a pleasure working with them all. I'm just looking forward to the rest of the season."

2014 Defensive End Enjoys Visit

By EJ Holland

Franklin Pierce outside linebacker Brett Carter made the long haul from Washington to Texas this week and stopped in Dallas to check out SMU.

"I liked SMU a lot. There is a lot of history built into those walls, which is really cool. They told me there is one name and that's Doak Walker," Carter said. "It was pretty cool. It was a place I'd like to go."

On Monday, Carter was in attendance for SMU's second fall camp practice and was awed with the way June Jones organized his team's drills.

"I was really impressed with it. They run it like they do in the NFL, where they basically only hit on game day and not during practice," Carter explained I like that because players always get hurt in contact practices. The philosophy is to make the players more hungry."

Carter was disappointed that he did not get to speak to any coaches but did receive quality information from SMU recruiting coordinator Steve Stigall.

"I just got to talk to Coach Stigall. I gave him my film, and he said the staff would take a look at it," Carter said. "He was really down to earth and told me they were going to take the best players and that they really cared about academics. I didn't get to talk to the other coaches, but I hope they are all like that."

But SMU wasn't the only school in the metroplex Carter visited.

"TCU was great," he said. "I really liked it. They were really high on academics. I'd like to go there. I think it would be a really good place to play."

2015 RB Makes Unofficial Visit

By Russell Palmer

Lake Travis (TX) running back Ben Lacey visited SMU this, and is showing high interest in the Mustangs. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound ball carrier has not received an SMU offer yet but is still in great connection with SMU coaches and players.

"I've taken a couple visits down to SMU in the past and I love the campus." he said. "I love the football facilities. I love everything about SMU. I talked to coach Wes Suan, the running backs coach. He seemed like a really nice guy."

Coming from a Texas high school powerhouse, Lake Travis has its perks including being able to talk to former alumni about SMU.

"I've been in touch with Garrett (Gilbert) in the past, we talk about SMU all the time." he said. "I also talked to Colin (Lagasse) in the treatment room, and they both love it"

During his visit to the Hilltop, Lacey was able to watch part of a practice and has high hopes for the Mustangs this upcoming season. He believes both SMU and Gilbert will have successful seasons.

"I think they are going to be great this year. I followed SMU in the past before and am good friends with Garrett so I am looking forward to the season and coming down to watch some games"

Getting To Know Your Mustangs

By EJ Holland & Beionny Mickles

What are you most likely to be listening to on game day?

Zach Line: Nothing. I don't listen to anything. I stay focused.

Gehrig Dieter: Jay-Z

Margus Hunt: Classical music and piano

Conner Preston: A lot of reggae

Randall Joyner: Maybach Music Group

What's the best class you've taken at SMU?

Taylor Reed: Movement because we got to sword fight and juggle. It was a cool theatre class.

Margus Hunt: Biomechanics

Kenneth Acker: Art of Acting

Zach Line: Creative Dramatics

Randall Joyner: Public Relations in Sports

What's your favorite pregame meal?

Randall Joyner: Grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and some lemonade

Taylor Reed: Lasagna

Jared Williams: Bacon and eggs and a couple of biscuits

Conner Preston: Spaghetti and meatballs

Margus Hunt: French Toast

Who's your favorite pro athlete?

Stephen Nelson: Jordy Nelson

Gehrig Dieter: Larry Fitzgerald or Derek Jeter

Zach Line: Steve Yzerman

Taylor Reed: Ray Lewis

Conner Preston: Drew Brees

What's been your most embarrassing moment at SMU?

Taylor Reed: Not being able to play with my team against Tulsa last year.

Margus Hunt: Sometimes I forget to speak English in class. I can't even make a word out so I'm just like never mind. I should just keep my mouth shut.

Stephen Nelson: My first day of practice I was so excited but then I realized I had my shorts on backwards.

Kenneth Acker: I was walking up to Dallas Hall, and it was some kind of ceremony, and I tripped up the stairs and a lot of people saw it. I haven't really had too many embarrassing moments on the Hilltop yet but that was one. I don't like making a fool of myself but yeah, I tripped up the stairs.

Jared Williams: Talking trash to the defense and them getting back to me on game days and in practice.

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