The Hilltop Review

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

Three-Star Small Forward Enjoys SMU Visit

By EJ Holland

The Harrison twins may be the Houston Defenders' biggest stars but three-star prospect Wesley Iwundu has established himself as a one of the top versatile small forwards in the south.

Iwundu has been hearing from quite a few top programs and visited SMU this past Sunday.

"SMU was really nice. The campus was really beautiful," Iwundu said. "I got a chance to watch the team workout. It was a heck of a workout, and it seems like it's really turning around with Coach (Larry) Brown. I think I would be a good fit there."

Iwundu has been hearing from SMU for about three months now and has developed a very strong bond with assistant coach Ulric Maligi.

"We have a very nice relationship," he said. "We always have great hour-long conversations on the phone. It's more than a coach and player thing. We talk about life and everything. He's just really cool."

Iwundu explained that he didn't really think about committing on campus but was blown away by his conversation with Larry Brown. The two spoke for over an hour and it seems SMU is now at the top of Iwundu's list.

"He's a real laid back and honest guy. He knows everything," Iwundu said. "It was really awesome to meet him. He didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. He told me the truth so that was great. He told me he really wanted to get this program turned around."

Iwundu also has Drake, Miami, Richmond and Kansas State in his top five. Iwundu will be visiting Kansas State this weekend and will head to Drake in two weeks.

But the 6-foot-6, 185-pounder will also be back on the Hilltop for his official visit on September 28, and it wouldn't be surprising if he pulls the trigger.

"It's a very relaxed campus. It's such a friendly environment," Iwundu said. "Coach Brown being there is really a plus so I just want to go back for again to see everything again."

Graham Has Heavy Favorite

By EJ Holland

Darius Graham is only one of a handful of 2013 running backs with an SMU offer, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's interested. Graham hasn't heard from the coaches and explained that SMU is somewhat of an afterthought.

"I know SMU has a great team and a great program. It's close to home so my parents can come to the games," Graham said. "I just haven't spoken to any of the coaches. I've just received letters. I'm not too interested because I don't really know anything."

Graham currently has one favorite and that's Louisiana Tech. The MacArthur (OK) ball carrier said he could commit because of the excellent communication he's had with the entire coaching staff.

"Louisiana Tech is definitely my favorite right now," Graham said. "I feel like they have a lot to offer. The coaches have a lot of faith and trust in me. They are talking about me starting or competing as a true freshman. I'm really liking from what I'm hearing from them."

Graham said that he would be making official visits to Louisiana Tech and Tulsa sometime this fall. SMU is currently not in his visit plans.

Mbargorba Gets Good News

By EJ Holland

We've been keeping up with the basketball eligibility issues for the past couple of weeks and through a couple of sources can confirm that Blaise Mbargorba is cleared to play this season.

Mbargorba was having trouble with his VISA but is on campus and going to classes. For now, he will work out individually to get in better shape. That includes playing pick-up basketball with Ricmonds Vilde.

We originally thought Vilde was going to be back on the team for sure but with Mbargorba being cleared and the future looking bright for Jordan Dickerson, it doesn't seem like that's going to happen right now.

Johnson Ready To Explode Against Baylor

By EJ Holland

There is no question that here at Pony Stampede we are big fans of Jeremy Johnson. The junior wide receiver showed the SMU faithful what he could do against TCU last year. Now, he's ready to be a full-time starter and help SMU upset Baylor in the opener.

"I've never been as excited for any other game in my life," Johnson said. "We're ready to get it started. I feel good and confident heading into Sunday."

Getting Garrett Gilbert in a rhythm early certainly has to be a point of emphasis and with Johnson in the slot, big things can be expected early on thanks to the chemistry they've developed during camp.

"Garrett has picked up everything thing really quick. He's adjusted to all of us receivers," Johnson said. "I feel me and him have really been on point these last few practices. I think me and Darius (Johnson) can do a lot of damage in the slot."

Baylor ranked 102nd against the run last year, but Johnson doesn't expect SMU to feed running back Zach Line. He explained that June Jones has a balanced game plan that the team will follow in order to exploit Baylor.

"Baylor has a pretty good defense from what we've seen on film, but we're just going to run our plays and do what we do," Johnson said. "We just need to go out there and execute. We're just sticking with the game plan. Coach Jones knows what he's doing, and we trust him."

Hunter Losing Interest In SMU

By Billy Embody

Prosper (TX) two-star safety Money Hunter has an SMU offer in his pocket, but the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder does not have SMU in his top three, which includes Oklahoma State, Utah and West Virginia.

Hunter holds an offer from West Virginia and Utah, but not Oklahoma State. SMU has not spoken with Hunter in quite awhile, but Hunter still would like to plan a visit.

"The last time I talked to them I was going down for their junior day," Hunter said.

Hunter's recruitment with SMU has been unclear for the most part including just how he found out he in fact had an offer from the Mustangs.

"They kind of hinted to me and I guess I didn't get the hint. One day I was going on another college visit and they left me a message saying that they offered me so that's how I found out," Hunter said.

For now, Hunter has only really heard about SMU through former player Taylor Thompson and likes how close it is to his hometown.

"I've got a little bit of interest, but that's about it," Hunter said.

Hunter did not give a timetable on when he would make a commitment and is just focused on being the best player he can be for his team.

"I show leadership on the field. I encourage others. I am always going to hype up the team. I do what I need to do out here on the field," Hunter said.

2014 Skyline DE Visits SMU

By EJ Holland

We reported a couple of weeks ago that 2014 Dallas Skyline defensive end Victor Evans wanted to visit SMU, and he did in fact end up on the Hilltop this past Sunday for an unofficial.

"The campus is really nice," Evans said. "I walked around just to get a feel for everything. It seems like a really good place. I saw the football facilities and liked the weight room a lot. It's really nice."

Evans was also looking forward to speaking with the SMU coaching staff but was only able to converse with defensive coordinator Tom Mason for just a few minutes.

"It was just a quick chat because the coaches had some other things to do," Evans said. "Coach Mason told us we were free to walk around the campus. But he did wish me look on the season and told me he would be watching my film."

Joining Evans on his visit was teammate and 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman Ty Barrett, who holds multiple BCS offers.

"I think Ty enjoyed SMU, but we both have the same outlook on the situation," Evan said. "We're just waiting to see what other options come our way. We're still young and will make the decision when that time comes."

2014 Skyline OL Visits SMU

By Beionny Mickles

2014 Dallas Skyline offensive lineman Tyus Barrett visited SMU this past Sunday and is slowly gathering more information about the local school.

"I know they're great academically," Barrett said. "SMU is one of the top academic schools in the country I know that for certain and I know that they have great tradition. It's a great school to go to."

But Barrett said that he couldn't remember the name of his recruiter from SMU and hasn't developed any kind of relationship except for a few calls. Right now Barrett has offers from West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Ole Miss. He says that he doesn't have a favorite as of now and that he's interested in a number of schools.

Barrett, who says that he doesn't plan on making a commitment until at least December, thinks that he has the tools to be most effective at the left tackle position.

"Left tackle because of my aggressiveness and my quick feet," Barret said when asked what position he thinks he'll play at the next level. "I played basketball so with my quickness not too many ends can get around me; and my long arms, I'm very long."

Barrett says that all the attention that he's been getting has been exciting and that he's taking his recruiting process one step at a time.

"I'm very excited. It's a blessing for real," he said. "I'm happy about everything that's going on."

Texas A&M Commit Seeing SMU This Month

By Russell Palmer

Although local three-star wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo committed to Texas A&M in March, the dynamic playmaker says he is still interested in looking to see what other school have to offer.

"I'll probably say its 95% solid because I'm still looking into what other schools have to offer," he said of his commitment to Texas A&M. "Clemson and Texas Tech, I've been talking to them a little bit. I'll probably go to a Tech game."

SMU is out of the running for Adeboyejo's services, but he plans to be on the Hilltop this fall, as he hopes to see the Aggies take on SMU at Gerald Ford Stadium.

"I'm going to try to go that because it's close to home," he said.

Texas A&M's switch from the Big 12 to the SEC has already paid major dividends in the field of recruiting, and is a big reason why Adeboyejo chose the Aggies.

"It was a big role because it's the only SEC team in Texas," he said, "And I've always dreamed of playing in the SEC, and being able to play close to home."

Deggs Still Trying To Re-Earn Offer

By EJ Holland

Plaquemine (LA) athlete Hakeem Deggs was all set to be SMU's first commit of the Class of 2013 but when he decided to pull the trigger, he found out his recruiter Jeff Reinebold had bolted for Canada.

"Right before Coach Reinebold left, I was trying to commit, but it was too late," Deggs said. "He had already left so I couldn't."

Deggs had his offer pulled but thought he had a great chance to re-earn it after an impressive showing at SMU's camp in June.

"I went to their camp and did pretty good," Deggs said. "I talked to Coach (Jason) Phillips, and he said he was going to give me a call in the next couple of days, but I never heard from him so I was disappointed about that."

In the process of waiting for Phillips to call, Deggs picked up an offer from ULM and expects to pick one up from Louisiana Tech sometime this month.

"I know Louisiana Tech has a chance to play in a big bowl this year so I'm excited about them," Deggs said. "I need to do more research on ULM, but I really like that they're here in Louisiana."

But Deggs is still hoping he does get that call from Phillips and will be on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit when SMU takes on Stephen F. Austin next weekend.

"SMU sent me a general letter last week that they want me to go to their game," Deggs said. "If they were to recruit me hard again, I would put some thought into it. But I wouldn't pull the trigger."

Montes Ready To Begin College Campaign

By Beionny Mickles

Freshman cornerback Ajee Montes has gained attention not only for his play in camp but also for his wild choice of hair color, which he attributes to his relationship with R&B singer Chris Brown. The two have communicated on Instagram, and Montes donned a blue streak in his hair to begin fall camp and now his entire hair is gold.

But he hopes his hard work on the field rather than in the saloon will help him make a name for himself.

"I'm feeling real good about the defense," Montes said. "I'm trying to work hard every day and get better at my weaker parts so I can play with no excuses."

Throughout camp and the subsequent practices, Montes has not only been working as a defensive back but he has also been getting opportunities on special teams.

During fall camp, sophomore and projected starter J.R. Richardson suffered a torn ACL and will be forced to sit out the entire 2012 season. Although junior Chris Parks is going to step into the starting role for Richardson, Montes says that if his number is called on he'll be prepared.

"It hurts me to see one of my teammates go down," Montes said. "You never want to see that, but if it's my time to shine I'm going to be out there. I'm ready."

As a freshman Montes has had to transition into a defense led by defensive coordinator Tom Mason and a special teams unit led by special teams coach Frank Gansz- neither of which would be characterized as soft spoken on the practice field. Montes says that growing up with a stern upbringing has helped him.

"Growing up my whole life my dad's been on me real tough so when I come out here it's just like another day. I'm already used to that," Montes said.

Going into the first game of his career on the Hilltop Montes says that he is nervous but excited and he's ready to make an impact.

"I've been waiting for this my whole life. Division I football, playing against high caliber teams, I've just been waiting for this my whole life and I'm finally here. I'm really excited; nervous, but more excited than nervous."

Cassel Recruiting Iowa DE

By EJ Holland

It's no hidden secret that SMU quarterback commit Kolney Cassel has been actively recruiting for his future school. But Cassel is going the extra mile and contacting under the radar kids he's never even met before like Bishop Heelan (IA) defensive end Zach Skibinski.

"I don't even know Kolney. He just friend requested on my Facebook and then he told me that he was impressed with my film on YouTube," Skibinski said. "We ended up texting, and he told me he sent in my film to SMU. I thought that was pretty generous of him to do that for me."

Although, Skibinski hasn't heard from SMU yet, he is interested and would even like to make an official visit this fall.

"I haven't heard anything from SMU. I'm just waiting to see what comes in the mail. I really don't know a whole lot about SMU except for the stuff on TV," Skibinski said. "I would love to go down there and see the campus because it looks like a good school so I would be interested."

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end currently holds offers from North Dakota, South Dakota and Western Illinois but will be making an official visit to Iowa on September 22.

"I'm hearing a lot from Iowa," Skibinski said. "They're keeping it consistent with their interest. I think they might be coming in with an offer soon."

Last season, Skibinski was named first-team All State after recording 86 tackles and eight sacks.

Halverson Hears From New School

By EJ Holland

SMU Nate Halverson has already made it clear that he's going to graduate early and be on the Hilltop this spring, which is why he is not really paying attention to Oregon State, which is close to extending an offer.

"Oregon State recently talked to me and said they were close to offering," Halverson said. "That's something new. I get letters daily, but I'm still solid to SMU. I don't think I would be very interested because I want to get out of Oregon."

Halverson has been in constant contact with quarterback commit Kolney Cassel, who has helped keep his commitment strong.

"I was just texting Kolney the other day," Halverson said. "We've even talked about rooming with each other. We're both really excited for football to start. We think SMU can be a really good fit for both of us."

Halverson has even joined Cassel as a recruiter for SMU. He recently spoke to Tere Calloway and encouraged him to commit.

"I've been trying to recruit Tere," Halverson said. "I'm trying to get him to come to SMU. I told him he needs to join the party and be a Mustang."

Halverson hopes to visit SMU with both Cassel and Calloway after the season.

Local Prospect Hoping For SMU Offer

By Russell Palmer

Lakeview Centennial (TX) cornerback Kermoyan Dixon has expressed major interest in SMU and hopes that an offer will come his way sometime during his final high school season.

Dixon visited the Hilltop two weeks ago along with teammate Jarvis Baxter and came away very impressed by the SMU campus.

"I liked it a lot." he said, "I liked the facilities and all that, I just really liked it."

Despite not holding any offers as of now, Dixon has three schools in particular he is looking at closely- SMU, Texas Tech and UNT.

In terms of finally getting that elusive SMU offer, Dixon expressed how important the first few games of his high school season will be if in fact he is able to impress the SMU coaching staff enough to receive an offer.

"They said to send them the first three games of film and then they'll see if they'll offer me."

While being recruited by SMU, Dixon has developed a strong relationship with one SMU coach in particular, who admires the way Dixon plays defense.

"Tom Mason," Dixon said. "Coach Mason said he really liked the way I play."

Scouting Report: Carrollwood Day vs. Imagine School

By Billy Embody

I had the opportunity to check out Carrollwood Day School's (FL) season opener against an outmatched, first-year program in the Imagine School. Senior running back Robert Davis led the way with 11 carries for 136 yards and four total touchdowns.

Davis had been referred to June Jones by SMU commit Kolney Cassel as a player to watch after he clocked a 4.38 40-yard dash in a camp this summer. A current Cincinnati commit, Davis, is now less than 1,900 yards from breaking the Hillsborough County career rushing record.

A teammate of Davis' that shined was senior receiver Andy Embody, who caught a 40-yard touchdown after beating his man by five yards. Embody also served as the punter, holder, punt returner, kick returner and cornerback, where he made plenty of tackles Friday afternoon.

Davis looked fluid and elusive against the overwhelmed opponent. After getting a few tosses, Davis turned them into big gains after cutting it up the field against the defense.

Most of the CDS starters did not play much in the second half as Imagine was down 35-0 at the half and the game finished with a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Davis could be a big pickup at the running back position if the SMU coaching staff chooses to pursue him but for now, Davis remains committed to Cincinnati.

A look at how some of the SMU commits performed….

By Staff

- Jarvis Baxter hauled in three passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns as he helped lead Lakeview Centennial to a 28-13 win over Dallas Carter

- Jesse Brubaker will be playing on the defensive side of the ball for SMU, he caught five passes for 66 yards in a 52-21 win over Jeremiah Gaines' Red Oak team

- Speaking of Gaines he recorded three receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also gained 83 yards on the ground and scored two more touchdowns

- JaBryce Taylor recorded five receptions for 88 yards in a 35-21 loss to Tyler John Tyler

- Couldn't find official stats but Dee Paul scored three defensive and three offensive touchdowns in a 68-7 win

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