SMU wide receivers coach Jason Phillips is finally living up to his ace recruiter billing he earned at Houston. In his first year on the Hilltop, Phillips made a minimal difference but now, he appears to be a recruiting trail blazer.
Earlier this week, Phillips was in Houston handing out a couple of offers and on Thursday afternoon, he made the short drive from SMU to Dallas Skyline to check in on a handful of top local prospects including three-star defensive end Victor Evans and three-star offensive tackle Tyus Barrett, both of whom picked up SMU offers last summer.
"We were having a really tough workout when Coach Phillips showed up. I was really excited to see him," Barrett said. "He talked to me and a few of my teammates and told us that he really liked us and that we would all be good fits at SMU. He watched the rest of our workouts and took notes on his clipboard so I think you can expect a few more Skyline players to get offered."
Along with Barrett and Evans, nose tackle Mike Thomas holds an SMU offer while defensive back Derrick Dixon, linebacker Marquavian Jones and wide receiver Emmanuel Harris all have interest.
Phillips invited the entire Skyline crew to SMU junior day on February 16. Both Barrett and Evans confirmed that they will be on the Hilltop and hold the Mustangs in high regard.
"I want a chance to look around the campus and the facilities. I've played there a few times so I know I like the locker room and the stadium," Evans said. "SMU is a good school. I'm considering a lot of schools, but SMU is definitely in the mix. I just want to weigh my options and get a better look at some schools."
Barrett shared similar sentiments.
"When I talked to Coach Phillips today, he said he really liked me and that I could have a chance to play right away at SMU so I'm really interested in SMU," Barrett said. "I know SMU is a good school, and it's close to home. Coach Phillips gave me his card and said to make sure I stayed in contact so I'm looking forward to junior day."
With the commitment of 2013 linebacker Roderick Moore, Skyline appears to be a school SMU wants to build a pipeline at. Although they have been unsuccessful at landing multiple Raiders, Barrett says Moore has been advocating SMU quite a bit to the 2014 class.
"Roderick talks about SMU all the time and how it would be a great place for all of us to play at," Barrett said. "He was actually talking to us today about his official visit to SMU this weekend. He's really excited about it and told us we should definitely visit for junior day. I would really like to play with all of my friends at the next level so it's up to us to come together."
But in order to land both Barrett and Evans, SMU will have to work hard to fend off some of the nation's top programs. SMU was not the only program represented at Skyline on Thursday- Michigan was also in attendance and a bevy of BCS school are already after the dynamic duo.
Earlier this week, Evans added two offers when Texas Tech and Tulsa extended scholarships and junior day invites.
"I was really excited when I got the offers from Tech and Tulsa," said Evans, who also holds junior day invites from Michigan and TCU. "I've been to Tech before, and I really liked it because it felt like home. I don't know too much about Tulsa yet, but they had a good team this year."
Meanwhile, Barrett holds multiple BCS offers and junior day invites from Baylor, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Texas Tech.
"Right now, I'm just researching all the schools that give me offers," Barrett said. "I really like what Michigan had to say today. I'm really excited about them and think they might offer. I have family ties to Michigan and it would be a great place to play."
And although the recruiting process is really starting to heat up for both prospects, they haven't forgotten what they've been dreaming about their entire lives- winning a state championship.
Last season, Skyline fell in the state quarterfinals to eventual champion Allen and will be losing some big-time talent including Devante Kincade, Ra'Shaad Samples and Kerrick Huggins just to name a few. But Evans isn't worried.
"Those are some great players, but we can't dwell about losing them. We just have to reload," Evans said. "I feel like we can win state this year especially with how hard we're working this offseason. I've gained some weight by spending a lot of time in the weight room, and I just want to keep getting faster and stronger."
Taking part in camps like the NLA Texas Top 100 camp last weekend is another way both players and their teammates are staying in shape.
"I think me and Victor did really well. Big Mike (Thomas) was even named defensive line MVP," Barrett said. "We got some good reps against some good competition from around the Dallas area. That's what we need as we work to win state next year."
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