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!

SMU Offers Local DE

By EJ Holland

At 6-foot-7, 260-pounds, Plano West defensive lineman Mason Gentry is an intriguing physical specimen. Due to his sheer size, FBS coaches should be banging on his door day and night, but the problem is Gentry has only been playing football for a year.

"I've played baseball since I was four years old," he said. "I had never played anything else, but the coaches talked me into playing after I moved here from Georgia. I think I picked up the technique fairly quickly, and I've been having a good year."

The Class of 2013 prospect has been instrumental on the Plano West defensive line, playing both end and tackle. His physicality has helped the Wolves reach the quarterfinals and college coaches are taking notice including SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason.

"Coach Mason came by my school and offered me last week," Gentry said. "Coach Hill had actually been talking to me for a while then Coach Mason came by my practice and said they really liked me as a defensive end."

Gentry, who also holds an offers from Purdue and Louisiana Tech, said he will strongly consider SMU due to its location and academic prestige.

"SMU is pretty high on my list right now because it's close to home and they have great academics," Gentry said. "I want to major in business, and SMU has a great business school. My dad's friends graduated from there, and they told me how highly regarded it was."

Gentry hopes to schedule an official visit soon but was on campus for an unofficial visit earlier this season.

"I really enjoyed the Southern Miss game," he said. "I thought there was going to be a lot more people, but it's understandable when you're playing an 0-12 team so overall, the atmosphere was great, and I liked the way the played."

Gentry added that he would like to play both football and baseball at the next level but will really think about his future in both sports over winter break.

SMU Coaches Watch Ben Moore

By EJ Holland

SMU commit Ben Moore has been having a tremendous senior season so far but on Tuesday night in from his future college coaches, Moore and his Bolingbrook (IL) team failed to get anything going in a 43-40 loss to Lockport (IL).

"We played our worst game of the year in front of Coach (Larry) Brown and Coach (Jerrance) Howard. It was extremely unfortunate. They blanketed Ben all night," said Bolingbrook head coach Rob Brost. "But after the game, Coach Brown walked over to Ben and gave him a huge hug and told him he still believed in him. That's what separates Coach Brown from other coaches. He's not just a Hall of Fame coach, he's a Hall of Fame person."

Moore, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound power forward, committed to SMU in October and just recently signed his letter of intent. What attracted Brown to Moore is his versatility and non-stop motor, which has been on full display.

"Ben is a returning all-stater and he's playing like one. Before this last game, he was averaging just under 20 points and 14 rebounds," Brost said. "The kid is a walking double-double, and he's been a tremendous leader for us. He's really going to be a special player for SMU."

But Moore wasn't the only Bolingbrook player Brown and Howard were looking at. 2015 combo guard Prentiss Nixon holds and SMU offer and has also been impressive this season.

"Prentiss has improved so much from last year. He's still young, but he's probably one of the best shooters in Chicago," Brost said. "Prentiss is shooting just under 50 percent from 3-point land and is the second leading scorer on our team behind Ben. He's been attracting interest from every Big 10 school and Georgia Tech and Maryland just checked in on him."

It's not uncommon for Brown and Howard to see both players in action. In fact, they've visited Bolingbrook at least once a month, which according to Brost, has really made an impact on his dynamic duo.

"It's great to have Coach Brown and Coach Howard come to our school as often as they do. It shows they really care about Ben not only as a player but also as person," he said. "I know Ben can't wait to get to SMU, and it's because of the relationships he has with them. They are just starting to develop that same relationship with Prentiss, and I'm sure he's been impressed."

EJ's Recruiting Briefs

By EJ Holland

- American Heritage (FL) DB Darrion Richardson and Seattle Prep (WA) DB Tere Calloway will make official visits to SMU this weekend

- JUCO RB commit Traylon Shead was also supposed to visit but will instead make his official next weekend

- SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason told SMU commit Jarvis Baxter that he would visit him this past week but did not. Here is what Baxter had to say about it: "Man, he didn't even show up. He didn't call or let me know why. I was disappointed but it's cool I guess."

- Trey Washington spoke to defensive line coach Bert Hill this week and set his official visit for February. Washington also led Gilmer to a 41-34 win over Henderson in the state quarterfinals on Friday night.

- While in Florida, Derrick Odum visited and offered 4-star Homestead WR Ermon Lane, who already holds multiple BCS offers

- While at Plano West, Mason also offered 2014 LB Lance Cottrell

- Larry Brown was at the Bulldog Tournament in Nederland on Friday and checked out The Village 2013 PG Isaiah Taylor, HCYA 2014 SF Justin Jackson, and Port Arthur Memorial 2015 SF Dorian Chatman

- Here is a list of prospects offered by Brown and staff this week: 2015 kids include Paul VI (VA) PF Marcus Derrickson, Paul VI (VA) PG Franklin Howard, Gonzaga College (DC) PG Bryant Crawford, and Simeon (IL) SF D.J. Williams while 2016 kids include Gill St. Bernards (NJ) SG Tyus Battle and Arlington Seguin (TX) PG Josh Parrish

Richardson Plans Visit

By Russell Palmer

American Heritage (FL) safety Darrion Richardson had a busy fall, filled with competitive football, and of course, the often grueling recruiting process.

Now with his season over, Richardson is focused on the recruiting process, and plans to take all five of his official visits, the first of them this weekend, when he visits SMU.

Richardson got everything set up earlier this week when he was visited at school by SMU defensive backs coach Derrick Odum.

"I enjoyed talking to him," Richardson said. "He told me that I could come in and get some early playing time."

Richardson is excited about his visit to the Hilltop, and is looking at a few specific things during his visit.

"I'm going to be looking at the academics and overall school environment when I walk around the campus." he said, "Overall I just want to find a program that fits me."

Richardson says he has no leaders as of now, but does plan on taking all of his official visits, and has an idea of where they will be, besides SMU. Those schools include Marshall, UMass, Cincinnati, and ‘maybe' Minnesota."

Richardson, who holds offers from all the schools listed above, said the coaching cycle does not matter to him, and when I asked specifically how Butch Jones leaving Cincinnati, who he listed as his favorite earlier this year, will affect his decision, Richardson said it will have no affect.

Richardson, says that he has no idea when he wants to make a final decision, but that he would rather make it sooner than later.

UPDATE: About a day after I talked to Richardson, the Palm Beach Post reported that it is likely that Richardson will commit to SMU, although he did not mention this to me.

SMU Offers Brandt-Sims

By Billy Embody

2014 three-star Wenatchee (Wash.) do-it-all athlete Isaiah Brandt-Sims was not all that interested in SMU before he was offered, but the close friend of SMU commit Kolney Cassel changed his opinion after SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason offered him this past week.

"I talked to Coach Mason and he told me that they wanted to offer me so it was really exciting because Kolney Cassel committed there and he was one of my good friends from Eisenhower," Brandt-Sims said. "I was thinking about it and it would be pretty cool to go down there and play with him."

Brandt-Sims, the Big Nine Conference MVP and a first-team All-League selection, was trying to visit with Cassel a few weeks back, but his plans fell through. While Cassel was in Dallas, the future SMU signal caller talked with the coaches about Brandt-Sims and SMU offered Brandt-Sims shortly after Cassel's visit.

"I talked to him (Cassel) the next day and he said he was really excited and stuff. He wants me to go down there really bad with him now," Brandt-Sims said.

Brandt-Sims is still undecided about when exactly he will visit, but it appears he wants to visit in the summer after Cassel gets on campus.

"I don't know yet. I was trying to a couple of weeks ago with Kolney, but it didn't really work out, but I think ill try and go down there and take an official visit in the summer," he said.

While Brandt-Sims is still a while away from visiting the Hilltop, he and Coach Mason did talk about where he might find himself playing on the Hilltop.

"He was telling me what position I could play down there and stuff. They could just use me anywhere," Brandt-Sims said.

While Brandt-Sims prefers to play either wide receiver or running back, he has plenty of time to hear more about where the coaches would like to use him. Brandt-Sims knows already that SMU is a great school and somewhere he could excel academically.

"He (Mason) talked to me about the academics, but he also told me to look on the website and look it up and then give him a call about it. It seems like a really nice school to me," Brandt-Sims said.

Massington Looking Around

By Billy Embody

2013 four-star wide receiver Eldridge Massington decommitted from USC last week and it wasn't because of a loaded depth chart, a change of coaches or going too far away from Mesquite, Texas. Massington decommitted because USC no longer had a spot for him to enroll early this January.

"Back in the fall, I got hurt and Coach (Lane) Kiffin told me he wanted me to graduate early and I did everything I was supposed to do with rehab and took my night classes," Massington said. "I went up for my visit this past weekend and coach told me that I couldn't enroll early due to three seniors not getting their credits so they had to graduate in May."

Massington wanted to get to school early so he could get over to his new school and continue his rehab on a torn ACL he suffered in the fall. Out of West Mesquite High School, the 6-3, 205 pound Massington owns offers many BCS AQ schools, but Massington has an idea of where he'd like to go already.

"Alabama, UCLA and Arizona State. Just the atmosphere and how I connect with the coaches and doctors," Massington said about what he is looking for in his school.

Massington does hold an SMU offer, but told wide receivers coach Jason Phillips earlier in the year that he wasn't interested.

"I talked to the coaches and told them thanks for the offer, but I wasn't interested," Massington said.

Massington will have a quick decision to make with about a month until spring classes start at the schools he is looking at.

SMU Coach Visits 2014 Prospect

By EJ Holland

SMU defensive line coach Bert Hill is already out developing relationships with 2014 prospects in East Texas. Last week, Hill dropped by Whitehouse to check in with linebacker Reggie Long.

"It was great to see Coach Hill. He told me that I was on their radar for the Class of 2014 and to keep working hard," Long said. "I've been in contact with him since I was a sophomore after I went down there for a camp. He's been telling me that SMU would be a great place to play."

Long is still waiting to pick up his first offer but has high interest from Baylor, Memphis, Oklahoma State and TCU. Right now, Long says SMU is very high on his list.

"I've been to SMU a couple of times. I was there for the Tulsa game, and it was great. The atmosphere and the people were great," Long said. "I really enjoyed it. SMU sends a lot of mail too. It's a great school to get an education and a good place to go so I'm really going to consider them."

The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder finished his junior year with 80 tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions and hopes to build on that this offseason.

"I think my height is a down fall, but I have really good speed," he said. "I'm just going to keep working hard in the weight room and hopefully, I'll start picking up offers soon."

SMU Coaches Watch Prime Prep

By Russell Palmer

2013 Prime Prep Academy point guard Shirmane Thomas plays on a team filled with blue chip recruits, including Emmanuel Mudiay and Jordan Mickey. Playing alongside some of the top recruits in the country has its perks, including being able to play in front of some of the premiere coaches in the country, including SMU's Larry Brown.

"It's fun playing in front of coach Brown. I've done it a couple of times, so I don't get real nervous or anything." he said, "I haven't talked to him in a while, but my head coach talks to him all the time."

Thomas, who holds offers from Creighton, Nevada, and Santa Clara, among others, has not yet received an offer from the Mustangs but does hold high interest in SMU as it fits many of Thomas's needs and wants, including academics and playing system.

Thomas says he has no timetable on when to make his decision, and is looking forward to his last season high school season, and has huge expectations for his team.

"We have a great team, and I was to win a national championship," he said. "We have a lot of big name players, so if we can put it all together we should have a great season."

SMU Targets 2014 OL

By Beionny Mickles

Clear Creek (TX) offensive lineman Myles Becnel took a trip to the Hilltop back in October and says that he enjoyed the city and the experience.

"It was nice. I like Dallas a lot," said the 6-foot-3 285-pound junior. "We got sideline passes and we toured the whole campus, the locker room, the weight room and learned about their conditioning and strength workouts as well as watch them play Memphis. I really liked it."

While on campus Becnel, who says he's been receiving quite a bit of mail from the Mustangs, didn't get the chance to have extensive conversation with the coaching staff because of the extensive game day preparations. However, he did get to meet head coach June Jones and offensive line coach Bob Palcic.

"I shook their hands and had a little mini conversation with them before they had to go and handle their duties," Becnel said. "I'm sure that they were busy so I only talked to them for a little bit."

Becnel says that Jones and Palcic told him to enjoy the game and to have a good time on the tour. Becnel says that it's a great feeling to know that a school like SMU knows that he's out there.

"It's one of the best feeling in the world to know that a school like SMU actually knows about me," Becnel said. "My whole life I've been trying to reach goals like this and work as hard as I can to become a D-1 athlete. To know that it's actually happening is one of the greatest feelings in the world."

Becnel says that Purdue, Utah, Indiana, Rice, Houston and UL-Lafayette have also contacted him. Becnel says that he won't be taking any other visits until the summer.

Becnel, who has been playing tackle in high school, says that he will probably move into the interior part of the line when he gets to college. He added that over the course of the offseason he wants to get his 40-yard dash time to under five seconds as well as improve his footwork.

2014 QB Interested In SMU

By Beionny Mickles

2014 FB Bush (TX) quarterback Ronald Monroe picked up an offer from the University of Houston on Friday. Monroe says that coaches from Houston paid a visit to his school and notified his coaches of their interest in offering him. "They came to my school and talked to my coach and he told me that they offered me," Monroe said.

The 6-foot-4 195-pound signal caller says that he talked to Houston Head Coach Tony Levine as well as quarterbacks coach Travis Bush. Monroe says that he likes the offense and the fact that the school is close to his hometown of Sugar Land. "It's pretty good," Monroe said. "It's close to my hometown and I like the spread offense."

Monroe says there are a number of schools that have shown interest in him thus far including TCU, Texas Tech, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Baylor, LSU and SMU. Monroe says that although he knows SMU is a good school academically he doesn't know much about anything the program has to offer.

"SMU is a great school but I don't know much about their football program right now," Monroe said.

The three-star prospect was supposed to visit SMU earlier this fall but had to cancel due to personal. Still, he hopes to learn more about SMU as the recruiting process continues.

Monroe says that he's looking for a school that has great academics, a program for law and an offense that allows him to throw around the pigskin. Monroe says that he likes running the spread and the option game the most and he thinks his attributes would best suit those types of styles of play.

"I think I'm a great passer," Monroe said. "And when I'm scrambling I keep my eyes up field so I can find the open receivers."

Monroe, who led his team to a 10-2 record and a second round run into the playoffs, says that it feels good to have schools interested in him but he knows he has to keep working hard in order to get where he wants to be.

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