The Hilltop Review

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

Halverson Picks Up BCS Offer

By EJ Holland

Thanks but no thanks. That's basically what SMU commit Nate Halverson told Oregon State when they extended an offer on Friday night.

"Oregon State called and offered me. It's a great offer to pick up," Halverson said. "I just said thank you very much. But I'm not interested. I'm fully committed to SMU and can't wait to get there."

Halverson is already making plans arrive at SMU in less than a month. The Grant (OR) defensive back is graduating on January 18 and plans to be on the Hilltop just three days later.

"I'm definitely excited. I can't wait to officially be a Mustang," Halverson said. "I am a little nervous though. But once spring ball comes, I'll definitely be more excited since I'll be playing football."

The two-star prospect also held a few FCS offers but never considered any other school after committing to SMU back in May.

"SMU has always been the right school for me," he said. "I love the coaches. Coach (June) Jones is a great guy. When I visited, I loved the environment, and Dallas is a beautiful city. I just feel like I'm a great fit there, and I can get to the next level at SMU."

EJ's Recruiting Briefs

- Dee Paul included SMU in his top 5 but I still think it's a long shot. A few sources in the press box told me it was down to Texas Tech and Baylor

- Traylon Shead's phone apparently broke while I was speaking to him and he only had a chance to give me one quote, which was: "My visit was great. I got to talk to all of the coaches, and they were cool. The campus was nice and small. But I noticed Dallas is way different from Austin."

- Zelt Minor picked up an offer from Utah. Expect him to pick up some more before signing day

- I got confirmation that Silvano Altamirano's problem at SMU was a credit transfer issue. He had cleared it up with Derrick Odum when he was here for his official visit. But a misunderstanding apparently happened and he decided to decommit and commit to Maryland

- SMU hoops commit Ben Moore has 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in a 68-53 win over Glenbard West

- Myles Crosby, JaBryce Taylor and Freddie Johnson were named to the AP 5A All-State team

- Trey Washington: 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 catch for 2 yards and a blocked XP in a 39-3 loss to Navasota in the 3A D2 state championship

- SMU prospect Demarcus Ayers had 126 yards passing, 33 yards rushing and a touchdown while 2014 prospect Nick Alexander had two catches for 49 yards in a 17-7 loss to Cedar Park in the 4A D2 state championship

- It's a dead period so coaches aren't allowed to visit kids, but they can still call them

SMU Offers 2014 Power Forward

By EJ Holland

Earlier this month, SMU extended an offer to Converse Judson (TX) big man David Wacker, the son of former Texas power forward Mike Wacker.

"Over the summer we got excited that Coach (Larry) Brown came to our summer game, but it never occurred to me that he seriously watching a couple of us," Wacker said. "I'm a huge fan. He actually recruited my dad when he was at UCLA at 1979."

Wacker was informed about the offer by assistant coach Ulric Maligi. The two have been in constant communication over the last few months, and Wacker has become more and more interested in SMU.

"Coach Ulric told me that Coach Brown really liked me and that he preached playing the right way. He said they liked how solid I was on defense," Wacker said. "I feel I might be a good fit just based on high character. My dad is also my high school coach, and Coach Ulric said they like that I'm well-coached."

The 6-foot-9 2014 power forward looks forward to learning more about the Mustangs as the recruiting process continues and knows SMU is a program on the rise.

"Coach Ulric told me SMU is going to be a top program soon and that they are close to landing Keith Frazier so that would be big," Wacker said. "I know that it's a great place and it's a tremendous school. My parents really like it because it's highly acclaimed. Any place that has Larry Brown has won, and I know he's committed to winning a championship."

Wacker also holds offers from Cal-Poly, Houston, Indiana State, Rice, Texas State, UTSA and Western Kentucky. Last season, he led Converse Judson with 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Linebacker Without A Spot

By Beionny Mickles

After deciding to retract his verbal commitment to Baylor, Mesquite Horn (TX) linebacker D.J. Green said he was back on the market and open to entertaining other offers. At the time, SMU was one of his top choices and as of right now, it still is.

"They'd probably be number one as far as my leaderboard," Green said. "They have a lot of the aspects that I like in a school. I'd like to make it official with them."

Green, who received an offer from SMU early in his junior year, says that although he loves the school and has maintained a great relationship with his recruiter defensive coordinator Tom Mason, SMU has already signed the maximum amount of linebackers they'd be willing to take.

The 6-foot-1 220-pound linebacker says that although the spots are filled he still has faith that he and SMU can make something happen in the future.

"Unfortunately they're full right now, but I'm still trying to hopefully keep some interest from them to me," Green said. "I'm still trying to make it in there."

Green says that Mason has talked to him and his coaches recently. Mason told Green he would like for him to be a part of the program and if there is any way to make that happen, he will take the steps necessary to ensure that it does.

"He's told them (Green's coaches) recently as well as myself that if there's some way they can get me they'll do their best to get me," Green said. "I believe in them in that aspect so I'm just kind of having faith in what he says."

If SMU does not work out for Green, he does hold other offers with the most recent coming from Navy. Green says he has scheduled an official visit with them, which will take place next month.

Taylor Losing Interest

By Beionny Mickles

O'Dea (WA) wide receiver Tatum Taylor has been on the move. Taylor, who is currently sitting on more than 15 collegiate offers, recently visited Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State. Taylor says that these three schools are also the ones at the top of his list right now.

"Yeah right now I would say it's between Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State," Taylor said.

Taylor says that all three programs offer opportunities he would like to take advantage of from Oregon State's previous ability to effectively use their smaller players in Oregon State's Rodgers' brothers, to Mike Leach's offense at Wazzu, to finally the beautiful weather and up-and-coming Pac-12 program at Arizona State.

Taylor, who received an offer from SMU months ago, says that at one point he was very interested in the possibility of going to play on the Hilltop. However, after talks with his recruiter, SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason, Taylor found out that SMU had added a number of receivers to their 2013 class. Because of this, Taylor ultimately decided that SMU wasn't the best option for him.

"Coach Mason and I had been talking for a while and in the last couple weeks of us talking, they signed a couple more receivers," the 5-foot-10 160-pound speedster said. "At that point I didn't want to go to a place that had already signed like four or five receivers so that's what kind of disinterested me."

Taylor says that he and Mason had developed a great relationship and talked often at one point. Taylor was also interested in SMU because of his best friend defensive back Tere Calloway who happens to be another Mustang prospect.

"We've been best friends since we were little," Taylor said. "We live like a block away from each other so we always work out together. He's one of the people that I talk to a lot about the recruiting process."

Taylor spoke highly of Calloway saying that he's a great football player and reads and reacts at an elite level. Taylor says that Calloway also has excellent ball skills as well.

"He's probably one of the smartest football players I know," Taylor said. "He has a really good work ethic and the way he reads and reacts to the ball is incredible."

Taylor says that he is contemplating taking one more official visit to Oregon on January 14 and if he does. he will make his final decision the week after. If he decides not to take the visit, he says he will make his decision this coming week.

Larry Brown Sees D.C. Prospects

By EJ Holland

Larry Brown was recently in the D.C. area checking out some of the top talent in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference including 2014 Gonzaga College small forward Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof.

"Coach Ulric (Maligi) had called me earlier in the week and told me they were interested and that Coach Brown would be out here to see us play," Abdur-Ra'oof "I was kind of nervous because it's kind of crazy that a Hall of Famer was there watching us. But I played hard, and I think I played well."

Abdur-Ra'oof is averaging 12 points and 14 rebounds per game this season and although he did not pick up an offer from SMU, he maintains high interest in the program and looks forward to building his relationships with both Brown and Maligi.

"When I first talked to Coach Ulric, the first thing that popped into my head when he told me SMU was interested was Coach Brown," Abdur-Ra'oof said. "He's an icon. It would be great to play for them, and I hope they offer. Coach Ulric said they really liked my style of play and would keep in contact."

Abdur-Ra'oof may end up getting an offer in the near future, but SMU did extend an offer to his teammate and 2015 four-star point guard Bryant Crawford, who already holds offers from the likes of Georgetown, Indiana and Uconn.

"Bryant was really happy about the offer," Abdur-Ra'oof said. "I think Coach Brown was really impressed with his court vision and ability to pass. He kind of reminds me of Rajon Rondo because he makes crazy passes. He's so athletic and an amazing point guard."

At the moment, Abdur-Ra'oof holds offers from nearly the entire Ivy League as well as Fairfield and Long Island and has also been getting strong interest from Northwestern and Stanford.

SMU Visits 2014 Quarterback

By EJ Holland

It appears Kolney Cassel will be the only quarterback taken in 2013, but 2014 is wide open and SMU defensive line coach Bert Hill is already targeting Whitehouse (TX) signal caller Patrick Mahomes.

"Coach Hill came to visit me at school a few weeks ago, and I talked to him a little bit," Mahomes said. "He told me he was really interested in me. He seemed really nice. He also invited me up to their junior day, and I plan on attending."

Mahomes passed for 3,898 yards and 46 touchdowns with only nine interceptions this season and feels he would be a good fit in SMU's Run N' Shoot offense.

"I really like that it's close to home," he said. "SMU would be a good choice for me because I like the offense, and I know a lot of people in the area. They have good academics, and I have a 4.0 so I like that too. I just have to go up and see it first."

Mahomes doesn't hold an offer yet but is attracting interest from Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech.

"TCU and Tech have come by my school a few times," he said. "I really like TCU and I'm a little interested in Tech. I also got invited to Baylor's junior day and plan on seeing all three and LSU."

But Mahomes is still unsure if football is what he wants to play at the next level. The son of former Minnesota Twins Pat Mahomes says he'll also consider baseball and would like to go to a school that offers both sports.

SMU Offers 2014 Linebacker

By EJ Holland

Last week at Ford Stadium, Tay Evans helped Allen stymie an explosive DeSoto offense and had a spectacular interception in the process as the Eagles advanced to the state championship.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "It's still unreal. I was happy with the way we played defensively. We've watched film on Lamar, and they're a good team, but we just have to play the way we've been playing."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound 2014 linebacker has been focused on the season and hasn't really thought about the recruiting process, but he did pick up an offer from SMU last week.

"My coach called me and told me Coach (Tom) Mason had offered. I was excited, but I haven't really thought about any colleges," he said. "I think it's a good program but I'm not really paying attention to them too much right now because I have to focus on the season."

SMU also extended an offer to fellow 2014 Allen linebacker Christian Sam, but Evans says the two haven't discussed SMU but would like to go to college together.

Hart Attending Junior Day

By Russell Palmer

After putting the finishing touches on an outstanding junior season that includes statistics that require a second look to make sure they are real, wide receiver Trae Hart now has time to focus on his recruitment.

A 5-foot-11 speedster who seems like an ideal fit for the Run N' Shoot, Hart has no offers as of now, but that could change after he attends the SMU junior day.

"I'm really excited to be invited to SMU junior day," he said. "It's the first one I've been invited to so I'm really excited. I will also be attending a camp and am excited to play in front of the coaches."

Hart has stayed in consistent contact with the SMU coaching staff and thinks that SMU could be the perfect fit for him and would consider them heavily if offered.

"SMU is a really good school, one of my top schools right now, and if they offered they would be at the top of my list," he said. "I really like the location and would prefer to stay close to home."

Hart, who is listed at only 160-pounds thinks his weight and size may be a reason schools are holding off from offering him scholarships, and plans to change that in the offseason.

"I'm just going to work on getting bigger and faster, but getting stronger is the biggest thing," he said. "I think my recruitment could really change if I get bigger."

After a junior season with 29 touchdowns, it would seem hard for Hart to improve in his senior season, but Hart has already set goals for next season, including racking up over 2,000 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns, stats that may seem lofty, but considering what he did this past season, these number don't seem out of reach.

As I wrote back in October, SMU and Hart seem like the perfect fit, and the Mustang coaching staff should offer this kid early on, especially I considering the fact that if Hart does improve physically and have another huge year, he may turn into a coveted recruit and offering him early on will make an impact.

SMU Targets 2014 OL

By Russell Palmer

2014 Plano West offensive linemen Zach White just capped off an impressive junior season, one that has not gone unnoticed by some of the top schools in the country.

Although White is only in the preliminary stages of his recruitment he has started to look around, and has started to get a better idea of where he wants to attend college.

"I'm looking at Texas Tech. I went there for camp and they have a great offensive line coach and I have good relationships with the other coaches and some of the players there," he said. "I also like SMU a lot and think that could be a good fit."

When talking specifically about SMU, White had plenty of good things to say about the Mustang coaching staff and team and could really see himself there.

"I really like SMU. It's close to home which I like." he said, "If I had a list of my favorite teams, SMU would definitely be on that list. They have really good academics, and seem to be an up and coming team. I went to two games this year and had a lot of fun. I also went to their camp and met June Jones and the offensive line coach and liked them a lot."

Another factor that could help SMU gain White's services is the fact that Tommy Tuberville bolted from Texas Tech, which played a huge role in White's recruitment, as he said ever since that happened, his recruitment is wide open.

Overall, White will be looking hard at a few things specifically, and SMU seems to fit all of his needs pretty well.

"Education comes first. Mom and Dad have preached that from the beginning," he said "Being close to home isn't a huge factor, but I would like to stay nearby so my parents could watch me play. Last, I just want to find a program that feels like a family and feels like home."

Embody Hopes To Walk On At SMU

By Billy Embody

2013 Carrollwood Day (Fla.) wide receiver Andy Embody was accepted to SMU on Monday and is able to focus on making his college decision now that his top school has accepted him.

"I was excited. I didn't really expect it because I thought it was going to be a couple days before Christmas, but I was excited and the rest of my family was too," Embody said.

Embody has not received an offer from SMU but has been in contact with SMU receivers coach Jason Phillips over the past year and is hopeful that SMU will extend a walk-on spot since SMU is full at receivers.

"I have not told him I'm in yet, but I plan on sending them an email or getting a hold of them over the phone in the next couple days to let them know," Embody said.

Even though Embody is in to SMU, he has not decided that he will be a Mustang yet. Embody is receiving interest from Davidson and Stetson, where he has a spot on the team.

Carrollwood Day lost 56-28 in the Florida Regional Championship against First Baptist Naples (Fla.), but Embody did everything he could to try and rally his team, scoring three touchdowns and having over 200 yards receiving in the game.

"The last game was a tough loss, and it was unfair that my team caught a couple bad breaks with injuries to key starters," he said. "Our defense just wasn't playing like we had due to those injuries, but looking back on the season it was a great success and I'm happy with how far we have come since I was a freshman to where we are now."

After the tough loss, Embody was invited to participate in the Hillsborough County East-West All-Star Game at Raymond James Stadium with some of the top players in the county and Embody didn't disappoint. Embody caught the West's opening pass and then caught the West's first touchdown of the game. Embody finished with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

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