2013 Class: Defensive Breakdown

Pony Stampede Staff Writer Beionny Mickles breaks down the defensive players in SMU's 2013 class

Defensive MVP

Zelt Minor- This guy has all the intangibles you need to be a great defensive end at the next level. He has a great jump off the line of scrimmage and fires out of his stance with excellent quickness. He has the size and strength to battle against those big offensive lineman and once he gets into opposing backfields, his great closing speed allows him to get to the quarterback or ball carrier in a hurry. Although I've never seen him play in person, on camera it seems like he does get a little gassed when on the field for an extended period of time so if he can work on his endurance there's no doubt in my mind that he will be an impact player for the Mustangs in the coming year. One can also hardly ignore that it seems that Minor's timing was impeccable for SMU who will be without defensive ends Margus Hunt and Spike Davis, nose tackle Torlan Pittman as well as outside linebacker Ja'Gared Davis, who held down the first line of defense last year.

Runner Up

J'Marcus Rhodes- West Orange Stark safety J'Marcus Rhodes is a solid player and has a complete skillset for the position. Rhodes has good speed, ideal size at 6-foot-2 195-pounds and great hands which he developed from playing wide receiver in high school as well as safety. Rhodes covers ground quickly and has a great point of attack when tackling. Every once in a while he will come down and pop a guy but more importantly, he is not a liability in coverage. Unfortunately for Rhodes, with Ryan Smith graduating Shakiel Randolph should step in as the full time starter next year next to veteran Jay Scott. Because of this, it is unlikely that Rhodes will see the field as a freshman. However, if injuries plague the SMU secondary like they did last year, you just never know.

Sleeper

Mason Gentry- Now this pick might be a little bit of a push but there's no way that one can't see the parallels and connections here. A 6-foot-7 265-pound defensive end with very little experience in the sport? The last guy that came to SMU with a story line similar to that graduated as a projected first round draft pick. Actually, there was word that Gentry is farther along in learning the game then Hunt was when he came to SMU since Gentry played a full year in high school. I will admit, at this level pure measurables don't amount to much, but hey… this guy could turn out to be special if he can put his body to good use and get a little coached up. I'm certainly not expecting anything from him in his first year but look out for him down the road.

What Were They Thinking

D.J. Green- I personally think that SMU could have gotten a good linebacker in former Baylor commit DJ Green but they wouldn't let him into the class. Green has good speed, decent size and had great test scores (unlike some others in the class). Green, from Mesquite Horn (TX), finished as one of the top linebackers in the area with 120 tackles and 10 sacks and straight out said that if SMU were to find a spot for him he would commit. Now granted, SMU does have great depth at the linebacker position, but I think that Green would have been one of the best (if not the best) linebackers in this 2013 class. Another guy that I think they over looked was Brandon Hines, another very good linebacker.

Grade: B-

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