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!

4-Star PG Talks SMU Offer

By Billy Embody

Four-star Gonzaga College HS (DC) point guard Bryant Crawford won't graduate for two more years, but SMU head coach Larry Brown already has been to one of Crawford's games this season.

"The coaches said they were going to keep in touch and come out to some more of my games, but that is all I've talked with them about," Crawford said.

Crawford's Gonzaga team is 12-2 and a big reason why is because of the talented ball handler. Crawford already holds an SMU offer, but other big-name schools like Connecticut, Georgetown and Indiana have taken notice of Crawford's talents by offering.

"I would consider it. I will probably take a visit down there." Crawford said of his interest in SMU. "Probably summer time or after basketball season."

Crawford has only talked to Brown once, but he is interested in keeping in touch and learning more about SMU. For Crawford, making sure he is in a good academic environment is important since he believes basketball might not always be there for him.

"Just to be a good school so even if my basketball career doesn't work out it will be okay," Crawford said.

The 20th ranked prospect in the 2015 class has already visited Penn State, Connecticut, Indiana and Villanova, who is also showing interest. Crawford won't decide for quite sometime, but with Brown in the mix early with other big schools, it is a recruiting battle to watch over the next couple of years.

Note: 4-star 2014 Lakeview Centennial big man Elbert Robinson visited SMU on Wednesday.

Lancaster on Phillips Visit



By Beionny Mickles

About two weeks ago SMU wide receivers coach Jason Phillips took a trip down to H-Town to meet with a couple of players from the Mustangs' 2013 recruiting class. One of those players was Houston Lamar (TX) athlete Cedric Lancaster.

The 5-foot-9 170-pound Lancaster played both sides of the ball and is especially versatile because of his 4.4 speed. Lancaster says the talk with Phillips was mostly just about SMU and the fact that he if he comes in and works hard there is a possibility that he could become a starter from on opening day.

"He just talked about SMU basically," Lancaster said. "He said that I have a great chance at starting when I go in and he asked me what number I wanted and things like that."

Phillips, who has been rumored to favor smaller receivers, did not get the production out of his outside receivers that many people hoped for going in his first season on the Hilltop.

Lancaster, who says that he will be looked at as either the X or Z receiver, hopes to change that.

"I was recruited as an athlete but the best chance I have going in is at wide receiver," Lancaster said. "It's either the X or Z. I've never been an outside receiver but I know how to prepare for it though so I'll probably start preparing myself for that within the next week or so."

Lancaster says that he expects a lot of competition when he arrives on campus this summer but he is excited for the opportunity to prove that he is worth being looked at as a starter.

"It isn't going to be easy I can tell you that," Lancaster said. "There's going to be a lot of people there going out for the same spot as me but I just have to be better than everybody else. It's a great feeling to know that when I go in there's a possibility that I can start but I just have to keep working hard."

Phillips and head coach June Jones also visited fellow SMU commit Zelt Minor on Friday, We will have a full story on that to kick off next week.

Gentry May Be The Next Margus Hunt



By EJ Holland

Without Mason Gentry, SMU may not have picked up its first commitment for the Class of 2014. The Plano West product helped Lance Cottrell make an early decision and is excited about his high school teammate joining him on the Hilltop in a few years.

"I was really happy when Lance committed. I just told him that SMU was a good place and that we could do some great things there," Gentry said. "Lance is a really strong and quick defensive end. I know they're recruiting him as an outside linebacker, but he should do well there."

As far as his own commitment to SMU, Gentry says he's still solid and spoke with Mustang defensive line coach Bert Hill last week about what his role will be next season.

"Other schools like TCU have called, but I told them that I'm very strong with SMU," he said. "I know the coaches have had success with players on the defensive line. I really like Coach Hill. He spoke to me last week and said I was going to redshirt next year and then fight for a starting job my sophomore year."

Gentry believes Hill can mold him into the next Margus Hunt since he has only been playing football for a year. While vacationing in Cancun, Gentry watched SMU's dominating victory in the Hawaii Bowl and was blown away with what Hunt was able to accomplish.

"The defense was amazing especially Margus Hunt," he said. "I really loved watching him. I don't know if I can be as good as him, but I definitely think I can make progress the way he did. I strongly believe Coach Hill will help me get there."

Gentry says he hasn't been doing too many football workouts because he's focused on having a great end to his baseball career but does lift everyday. He also been studying for the upcoming SAT after not being satisfied with his first score.

JUCO QB Enrolls At SMU



By EJ Holland

Coming out of Lake Oswego (OR) in 2011, Austin Kent knew he wanted to be at SMU. He had always been a big fan of June Jones and the Run N' Shoot offense and was confident he would pick up an offer.

Kent constantly communicated with the staff but in the end, SMU's class filled up and he was left with no FBS options when National Signing Day rolled around.

"My high school coach was friends with Coach (June) Jones, and SMU recruited me," Kent said. "I was hoping to pick up an offer but another kid (Neal Burcham) got a scholarship, and there was no room."

Kent decided soon after to go the JUCO route and enrolled at Laney C.C. in California. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder said the experience helped him learn a lot and prepared him to succeed at the next level.

SMU running backs coach Wes Suan recently got back in contact with Kent and invited him up for a visit this week. Although the Mustangs didn't extend an offer, Kent decided to take a preferred walk-on spot instead of accepting an FCS scholarship.

"I just fell in love on my visit. SMU is beautiful and one of the nicest campuses I've ever seen," he said. "Coach Suan told me nothing is going to be guaranteed but if I work hard, I can earn a scholarship.

"I also met Coach Jones and Coach (Timmy) Chang. They were both great guys. Their resumes speak for themselves. They said they were glad to have me, and I'm really excited to play for them."

Kent is officially enrolled at SMU and will have four years to play three. As a senior he passed for over 2,000 yards and was named MVP of the Schuman National Combine.

Known for his arm strength, Kent says a redshirt year is very possible but once Garrett Gilbert graduates, he fully expects to battle for a starting job.

"There is always room for me to improve," Kent said. "I have a lot to learn, but I'm confident the coaches at SMU will help me out. My plan is to start after Garrett Gilbert leaves and earn a scholarship."

Green Still Interested



By Beionny Mickles

With SMU's 2013 recruiting class all but filled to capacity, Mesquite Horn (TX) linebacker D.J. Green has found himself on the outside looking in. The 6-foot-2 220-pound linebacker who decided to decommit from Baylor, still holds an offer from SMU but has been put on the backburner because of the limited spots available at his position.

Green, who has maintained communication with SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason, say he has gained interest from Navy, Eastern Michigan as well most recent suitor Navarro College. However, Green has been looking into a few unconventional avenues that may just lead him to the Hilltop.

"We've (Green, his father and Coach Mason) been discussing the ways to get myself to SMU," Green said. "Obviously there's a scholarship offer which could happen if someone decommits.

"They were talking a little bit about grey-shirting which would be the second option, and then the third option would be to come in as a walk-on but I could probably still get an academic scholarship because of my grades."

Green, who will finish in the top ten percent of his graduating class, has a GPA close to 3.9 along with an SAT score of 1700. Green says his math and reading combined totaled 1150.

With signing day approaching soon, Green says he would like to make his decision by then but if waiting it out seems like the best option then he doesn't want to rush the process.

"I'd like to do it by February 6," Green said. "Obviously sooner would be better but I don't really have a specific day or time or anything it's just whatever happens, happens."

SMU Still Interested In Drayton



By EJ Holland

Last month, Kiona Drayton set an official visit to SMU through his high school head coach and Mustangs Director of Operations Randy Ross. But the Segerstrom (CA) defensive end has yet to hear directly from the coaching staff.

His uncle and former SMU great Eric Dickerson, however, recently had a chat with SMU head coach June Jones about the possibility of his nephew following in his footsteps and becoming a Mustang.

"Coach Jones contacted my uncle Eric last week," Drayton said. "He told me that SMU was still very interested in me and that Coach Jones is aware that I'll be making a trip down there so that was great to hear."

Drayton is scheduled to join SMU commits Trey Washington, Jarvis Baxter and Everett Dickerson on February 2. The son of former SMU fullback Charles Drayton, Kiona cannot wait to make his first ever trip to the Hilltop.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I'm ready to see the campus and the facilities and the whole program is all about. I also want to see how student life is on campus. I watched the Hawaii Bowl and I was really impressed so I can't wait."

2014 Prospect Discusses Transfer, Junior Day Invite



By EJ Holland

One of SMU's top targets in the Class of 2014 will be wearing a different uniform next fall. Ronnie LaRue recently decided to transfer from Red Oak, which is the home of 2013 commit Jeremiah Gaines, to Bishop Dunne.

"I feel like I can get a better education at Bishop Dunne, and it's a great opportunity," LaRue said. "I've already spoken with the coaches, and I will be playing both free safety and quarterback there next season. I feel it was the best decision for me."

In order to get ready for his final high school season, LaRue has been training vigorously this offseason. The 6-foot, 185-pounder athlete says he will more than likely play safety at the next level and has been focusing on his lower body strength.

"I've been lifting weights and doing a lot of 1-on-1 drills," he said. "I feel like I need to get bigger and stronger. I've been working a lot on squats and just explosion workouts in general."

LaRue has been in contact with quite a few big name schools including Michigan, Oklahoma State and Washington State but still has SMU at the top of his list and is excited about attending junior day this spring.

"I received my junior day invite from SMU and will definitely attend," he said. "I actually talked to Coach (Bert) Hill on Friday, and he told me to keep working hard. I think SMU is really close to offering me."

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