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!

Billings Inching Closer To A Decision

By EJ Holland

Earlier this week, I was able to catch up with Andrew Billings' father, Anthony, who granted me a brief interview. Billings is SMU's top target overall and landing him could do wonders for the program since nose tackle is really a position of need.

The four-star prospect recently narrowed down his list Baylor, Mississippi State, SMU, TCU, and Texas and according to Anthony, every school still has a chance.

"He has his top five that he's working with. He's trying to narrow it down soon. He has so many wonderful schools after him so it's hard for him choose. He's really trying to focus on the start of his football season. His initial goal was to try to commit before the season so that may still happen, but he could wait since it's such a hard decision."

Billings has been to all five schools, including SMU, this summer. Anthony explained that defensive line coach Bert Hill and his son have kept in close contact ever since.

"Andrew has been to SMU, and he really likes it. I went to the camp with him, and it's a good school. He's had good communication with the coaches. Coach Hill has really established a connection with him so that's why SMU is up there with those other schools."

If it were my guess, I would say SMU is very much in the mix to land Billings. I believe SMU would have a better chance if he waited rather than committing next week. Right now, I say Texas is the favorite and Mississippi State is last so like I said, SMU still has a very good chance at winning this battle.

"His mom joined him on the visit to Texas, and they liked it there, but nothing changed. He doesn't have a favorite. He's still working with those five schools."

Big Men Situation Looking Positive; Giles Recovering

By EJ Holland

While the situation is certainly still cloudy, things are really looking up for SMU freshman center Blaise Mbargorba. He is still having troubles with his VISA and the NCAA, but things should get rolling along pretty soon.

Sources have told us that Mbargorba believes he will play at SMU this season and things will get resolved within the next week or two. We can also confirm through another source that he is on campus and has been playing pick-up basketball with Richmonds Vilde everyday.

Speaking of Vilde, the same source told us he had a meeting with Larry Brown after his try-out, but things are still up in the air. According to the source, Brown said he would like to have Vilde as a scout team player but a decision has not been made.

Sources also state that Jordan Dickerson is enrolled in classes but is in a similar boat as Christian Holloway is in on the football field. If SMU fans should worry about anybody, it's Dickerson. We will continue to monitor his situation closely.

We have also been trying to get an interview with Larry Brown and an update on the team for ages, but we are still on the waiting list.

I can, however, confirm that London Giles has not been practicing with the team this summer. The senior guard is currently recovering from tendonitis in his knee but will be ready by the start of the season.

Note On Jordan Mickey

By EJ Holland

Guys, I did everything in my power to contact Jordan Mickey in order to get an update on how his visit went. Billy, and I called him non-stop but never got an answer.

I tried everyone from high school to AAU coaches and got nothing. But teammate and fellow SMU target Emmanuel Mudiay had this to say:

"Jordan really likes SMU. I believe SMU is definitely one of his favorite schools."

We will keep trying to get in contact with Mickey or anyone close to him that could give us details on his visit. As of now, I don't expect Mickey to give a verbal soon, but it wouldn't surprise me if he became a Mustang.

Taylor Trying To Plan Visits

By EJ Holland

SMU offered speedster Tatum Taylor late last month and now the O'Dea (WA) athlete is considering taking an official visit this fall. Taylor recently spoke to defensive coordinator Tom Mason but did not pick a date.

"I actually talked to SMU last week. I spoke to Coach Mason about setting up an official visit. He really wants me to see the school and come down to Dallas," Taylor said. "He told me to figure out the best time for me and my parents so we didn't set a date. I'm still thinking about where I'm going to take official so I just have to talk to my parents. We don't have a bye week during the season so I just have to figure it out."

Taylor explained that he is still researching and finding out more about SMU, but he received some encouraging news while on the phone with Mason.

"I think SMU is a good school. I think the system would fit me perfectly as a slot receiver. I feel they have a good coaching staff that can take me to the next level, and that's what I'm looking for. I want to get to the pros one day," Taylor said. "Coach Mason said they could really use me since Darius Johnson is graduating this year. He also said they are going to have a track team when I get there so that'll be cool."

With 4.21 speed, there is no question he could be a major threat out of the slot. Taylor will play more at the position this season but will still start at running back.

"I'm starting at running back, but we switched our offense so I'm going to be playing a lot more in the slot receiver," Taylor said. "I feel I can really help my team at both positions. But you'll see me a lot more in the slot this year."

Taylor says he has no visit planned and currently has no favorites. But he did recently pick up an offer from Southern Mississippi, which has also offered Tere Calloway.

JUCO Quarterback Hoping For SMU Offer

By EJ Holland

SMU may already have a quarterback commit but if June Jones decides he wants another Cerritos JUCO signal caller Morgan Fennell may be an option. Fennell spoke to Jones a couple of times this spring and was recruited by the SMU head coach as a senior at Long Beach Poly.

"SMU recruited me out of high school so I'm definitely interested in them," Fennell said. "I haven't talked to the coaches recently, but I would still definitely be interested. The last time I spoke to them was in the spring. June Jones is a great coach. I loved them out of high school. Coach Morrison is great too. I just like them a lot."

Fennel has yet to pick up an offer from any schools but hopes to prove he deserves to play Division I football with a stellar sophomore campaign.

"My goal is to win. What coach doesn't want a winner? I feel I need to manage the game and wins will come with that. I feel my decision-making is top notch. I'm a student of the game and make plays happen. Hopefully, coaches can see that." Fennell added that he would like to officially visit his ‘dream school' Oregon and SMU.

Saintil Still Hoping To Hear From Brown

By Billy Embody

2013 point guard Hakim Saintil describes himself as a leader out on the court. He understands the point guard position and how important it is for him to be on his game and in sync with his teammates.

Saintil is teammates with 2013 forward Tyler Roberson, who is also considering SMU. Saintil said he currently does not have an offer from the Mustangs, but would love the opportunity to play for SMU head coach Larry Brown.

"It would mean a lot. It would be fun and kind of cool as well to play for Coach Brown," the quiet Roselle Catholic High School (N.J.) product said.

With the new coaching staff, Saintil is not sure an offer will come his way and has not planned a visit, but the SMU coaching staff has been in contact with Saintil's AAU coach.

Scouting Dallas Skyline

By EJ Holland

I had the opportunity to cover Skyline vs. Flower Mound Marcus on Friday night and paid close attention to players that SMU has a realistic shot at landing.

1. DE Roderick Moore- Moore is committed to SMU so I really was looking forward to watching him play. The problem is he didn't. Coach Samples told me that he was kept out due to a lingering ankle injury but should be ready to go by the opener.

2. LB Isaiah Williams- Yes, Williams committed to Kansas State, but he really likes SMU too and things could change. Williams is an absolute beast on the field. He looks bigger than advertised and in my opinion could be a dominant inside linebacker at SMU. Williams and nose tackle Kerrick Huggins were clearly the best defensive players on the field. His closing speed is tremendous and boy can he lay the wood.

3. 2014 DE Victor Evans- As a junior, Evans still has some bulking up to do but he looked fast off the ball. Evans made a couple of nice plays but is really only a speed rusher. Like I said, Evans needs to hit the weight room if he wants to be a stud defensive end at the next level and he certainly has the tools to turn into one. Evans also showed good technique and was very energetic throughout the scrimmage.

4. 2014 OL Tyus Barrett- Barrett would be a huge get for SMU. He already has a couple of BCS offers, but he is interested in visiting SMU and is close friends with Evans. On the field, Barrett looks like a man among boys. He was clearly Skyline's best offensive lineman and overpowered the Flower Mound Marcus defensive lineman. Barrett has brute strength and opened holes all night. In my opinion, he could get some playing time at SMU right now.

Holland Still Under Evaluation

By EJ Holland

SMU appears to be pretty solid at offensive line but Carl Albert (OK) center Caleb Holland remains optimistic about his chances at picking up an offer.

"I haven't been talking to SMU as much as I did in the spring, but I'm still interested," Holland said. "They just haven't offered. Coach (Bert) Hill said they were going to keep evaluating me and asked to send them film from my first two games."

Holland said SMU was one of his favorite schools and was on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit this summer.

"I really enjoyed my visit to SMU. It's such a storied program and a great school," Holland said. "Everything was really nice. The weight room and the locker room were really awesome. It would really be a great place to play.

At the time, he only held one offer but he now has eight. Holland is still weighing all his options and hopes to make a decision after the season.

Versatile Embody Waiting for First Offer

By Billy Embody

For 2013 Carrollwood Day School (Fla.) ATH Andy Embody, leaving the field on a Friday night just isn't an option because of the team's lack of depth. Embody excelled as the team's top receiver, but he has also been a playmaker as one of Carrollwood's starting corners, the team's punter and as one of the kick and punt returners meaning he rarely leaves the field.

"My versatility. I think I can come into any team and play almost any position and do well with it. My effort is definitely the best, but I think my versatility benefits me the most," Embody said about playing so many roles.

At just 5-9, 170 pounds, being undersized has not helped in Embody's recruitment process, but Embody has shined in 7-on-7 tournaments this summer, torching some of the best talent in the state of Florida at tournaments such as the South Florida Sling-n-Shoot Tournaments in June and July.

Embody has had SMU near the top of his list for a while, but during his search for where he will play college football, other schools have shown interest and Embody is waiting for someone to pull the trigger and offer.

"SMU has been number one since I started spending a lot of time there when my brother went there. As a school it is definitely at the top, I love the atmosphere and I am really comfortable with the coaches that I have met," Embody said.

Embody visited Dallas in June for one of the team's football camps and also attended SMU's Junior Day in March after being invited by SMU wide receivers coach Jason Phillips.

Aside from SMU, Embody's top five schools include Tulane, Furman, Holy Cross and Davidson.

Getting To Know Your Mustangs

By EJ Holland & Beionny Mickles

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

Garrett Gilbert:: I listen to a little Taylor Swift before the game, but there is a 3 Doors Down song that I've listened to before every game

Keenan Holman: No music on game days

Rishaad Wimbley: Lil Wayne

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

GIlbert: History of Consumer Culture

Holman: Sports Law

Wimbley: No class

Nabushosi: Psychology of Learning

What's your favorite pregame meal?

Gilbert: I'll eat anything, but grilled chicken, Rice, and veggies are always good for energy

Holman: Popeye's

Wimbley: I'm too nervous to eat food

Who's your favorite pro athlete?

Gilbert: Kobe Bryant

Holman: Tony Romo

Wimbley: Ray Lewis

What's been your most embarrassing moment at SMU?

Gilbert: I had to call my professor the other day because I couldn't find my class. That's not too bad though.

Holman: I had to jump off the high dive, and I couldn't swim so I had to have guys lifting me up and out of the water. It was funny but embarrassing.

Wimbley: The other day I fell during scout team and nobody even touched me

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