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!

Thomas Still Weighing Options

By Beionny Mickles

After suffering a painful defeat in the Michigan State championship game, senior offensive tackle Poet Thomas is shifting his focus to figuring out where he'll be playing for the next four years. Thomas says that it is unlikely that he will be at SMU.

After being offered by the Mustangs in the summer, Thomas says he hasn't heard much of anything from SMU and hasn't received phone calls from his recruiter, defensive line coach Bert Hill, despite numerous attempts to get in touch with him. Thomas says that is what ultimately knocked SMU off his radar.

"I haven't talked to SMU in a while," Thomas said. "They've kind of jumped off my radar a little bit. In the summer, I felt strongly about them. I'd call once or twice a week then after a while I'd never really get a phone call back. He (Hill) hasn't really been keeping in touch."

Thomas says the few times he has talked to Hill they would speak briefly and then Hill would usually have to go. Thomas says having a good relationship with the coaching staff is one of the biggest factors that will go into his college decision.

"If I don't feel comfortable with the coach or the coaches when I go visit then I'm not going to go, plain and simple," Thomas said. "That's a key part in my decision because I'm going to be there for four to five years so I don't want to have any bad relationships with anybody or anything like that."

The 6-foot-6, 295-poundersays that he will be taking visits within the next three or four weeks and plans to make stops on the campuses of Kansas and Old Dominion first. The other schools that round out Thomas' top four are Texas Tech and Arizona State, which have yet to send an offer but have been contacted him often.

SMU Weekend Visitor List

1. QB Kolney Cassel

2. DB Nate Halverson

3. LB Nick Horton

4. WR Deion Sanders Jr.

5. OL Silvano Altamirano

6. LB Carlos Carroll

7. OL Travis Fister

EJ's Recruiting Briefs

- As we all know, 5-star SG Keith Frazier was on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit. I was unable to get in contact with him, but I did speak to a source close to the situation and he told me it was 60/40 SMU leading Texas A&M. If this is true, I can't stress how good this team will be in the near future. During break, I will make a point to drive down to Kimball and conduct a personal interview with him. I will most likely do this on the week of the 10th.

- While in the northeast, Larry Brown will visit with 2014 4-star shooting guard Ja'Quan Newton. Brown visited him last month so this is definitely a positive sign. He holds offers from Georgetown, Villanova and others.

- Brown was in attendance at Prime Prep this week. It's great to see him attending local teams and developing a relationship with Prime Prep, which will surely turn out some top prospects. Emmanuel Mudiay would obviously be a huge get for the Class of 2014.

- SMU offered 2015 Mesquite Horn wide receiver Jarrison Stewart

- Traylon Shead will make his official visit to SMU next weekend

- Bert Hill visited with Trey Washington this week and saw Jeremiah Gaines in action on Friday

- Tom Mason visited with Jarvis Baxter this week

- Silvano Altamirano picked up an offer from Washington State, but it seems SMU is still the favorite

- 2014 Lake Travis running back Shaun Nixon, who picked up an offer from SMU in the summer, committed to Texas A&M

- Lawton (OK) running back Darius Graham, who holds an SMU offer, picked up a Colorado State offer

Ayers Lists Top 8

By EJ Holland

Defenses just can't seem to stop explosive Lancaster athlete Demarcus Ayers. This season, he has passed for 1,300 yards, rushed for 1,115 yards, logged 180 yards receiving and scored 35 total touchdowns.

But Ayers isn't done just yet. After leading the Tigers to a 41-16 win over Jacksonville in the first round of the playoffs, he has his eyes set on the ultimate prize.

"I think we can go all the way to state," Ayers said. "It was nice to come out in the first and second rounds and dominate. The atmosphere was different from the regular season, and it was a great win. We just have to keep it rolling."

As of today, Ayers remains committed to Washington State but is still weighing his options. The three-star prospect currently has a top-8, which includes Arizona State, Houston, Illinois, SMU, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State and West Virginia.

Ayers says he hopes to check out most of those schools before he trims his list. The only school that has received an official visit is Washington State.

"I still want to see what's out there," he said. "But I really liked Washington State. It was a football city, and they had a really great atmosphere."

Ayers plans to see West Virginia this weekend and also hopes to take official visits to Arizona State and Tennessee. Ayers also wants to check out his hometown school on an unofficial visit and could possibly be on the Hilltop this month.

"I'm going to try to get out to SMU really soon," he said. "I talked to Coach (Jason) Phillips last week, and he said to keep working hard. He said he really wants me to come visit and that they are really interested in me."

VIDEO: SMU Commit Trey Washington

Scouting Report: Trey Washington

By EJ Holland

After watching Washington in action, I must say I was fairly impressed. The coaching staff may have found a nice diamond in the rough, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will take a few years for him to really develop.

Like most recruits from East Texas, Washington is just a flat out athlete. He played on both sides of the ball and special teams but his main position is safety. I believe he would make a better corner at the next level due to his hip movement and technique. But would also be solid safety. I spoke to a Gilmer coach briefly before the game, and he agreed. He said SMU would be missing out if they didn't move him to corner because he could be a special player at the position with more coaching.

He also added that Washington just has a knack for making plays, and he proved that by picking off a pass. At 6-foot-1, he can match up with bigger receivers. I know Chris Parks automatically comes to mind but like I said, Washington just seems more athletic and smooth.

Although he could add bulk to his thin frame, Washington has tremendous upper body strength. He won't lay wood, but he isn't afraid to come up, wrap and slam offensive players. Washington also has good lateral movement but his weakness may be his straight-line speed. Don't get me wrong, he's not slow but he's not a burner. If he can improve that over his first two years on the Hilltop then he should be a solid player.

On top of that, Trey is a very intelligent (top 10 percent of his class) and impressive young man that should be a great addition to SMU and the community.

2013 Point Guard Still Likes SMU

By Russell Palmer

The Village point guard Isaiah Taylor is preparing for a busy winter. To go along with practicing for his final high school season, Taylor also is going through the recruiting process, and it is starting to heat up.

One of the schools showing interest in Taylor is SMU and Larry Brown, who has contacted Taylor on a consistent basis and has developed a good relationship with the floor general.

"I have high interest in SMU," he said. "I've been able to develop a close relationship with Coach (Ulric) Maligi and Coach Brown."

Taylor has also kept close tabs on the Mustangs and is very impressed with what the Mustangs have been able to do in such a short time under Brown.

"They have a lot of big time recruits, kids I've gone to camp with," he said. "They got Shannon Brown's little brother, and a big time JUCO player so they should be good soon."

Taylor, who plans on visiting SMU in December, also holds interest in some other impressive programs including Alabama, Creighton and Houston .

When making his final decision, which he also plans to make in February, Taylor has singled out a few factors that will be most important to him, and says SMU fits them all very well.

"I'm looking for a family environment that also has a school with a good coaching staff and a playing rotation that means I can play early on," he said.

Cassel Recruiting 2014 Prospect

By Billy Embody

Wenatchee (WA) 2014 ATH Isaiah Brandt-Sims finished up his junior season as the Big Nine Conference MVP and a first team All-League selection, but what was tough was missing the playoffs after starting 1-3, but finishing with six straight victories.

"We were kind of struggling as a team then half way through the season our head coach switched the offense coordinator and he kind of changed the offense and it helped our team out a lot," he said.

Brandt-Sims, who has an offer from Wyoming, feels like his performance this season will help him field some other offers. He is currently hearing a lot from Oregon and Oregon State. Brandt-Sims is best friends with SMU commit Kolney Cassel and was supposed to visit recently, but had to cancel.

"I like that school, but if I played with them I'd probably want to be a wide receiver," he said. "I guess I'd play running back too."

Brandt-Sims has not heard from the SMU coaches and does not know too much about SMU, but is hoping his recruitment will pick up after his MVP performance this season.

Brandt is ‘not too interested' in SMU but will try to visit again with Cassel in the coming weeks but is unsure when exactly. Cassel and Brandt have talked a little bit about SMU and the program.

"I talked with him a little bit about the offense, but not too much about the school," Brandt-Sims said.

Brandt-Sims finished with 187 carries for 1,400 yards rushing and 20 rushing touchdowns. He also had 21 catches for 317 yards and five touchdowns.

Not Enough Room Left For Harwell

By Beionny Mickles

Mesquite Horn (TX) linebacker Hunter Harwell says he would have seriously considered SMU if only there was an opening. Due to injuries in the secondary, SMU decided to alter their recruiting strategy, which left no room for Harwell at linebacker.

"Unfortunately they wanted three linebackers and they already had two committed, but a couple of their DB's were injured," Harwell said. "Instead of that third linebacker they decided to take another DB so my position wasn't there."

Harwell, who holds offers from Air Force, Northern Illinois, New Mexico and a few other schools, said he was disappointed that the situation ended up with him on the outside looking in but is thankful to have developed a great relationship with defensive coordinator Tom Mason.

Harwell, who spoke to Mason while visiting SMU against Houston with teammate D.J. Green, says Mason is like a mentor to him and has helped him in his college search immensely.

"Coach Mason is a good friend of mine," Harwell said. "You don't find many coaches like him. He's just got outstanding integrity. He's going to be a straight shooter with you and he's going to tell you how it is."

"If that position was still available, I definitely would have considered it and more than likely took it," he said.

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