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!

Wise Holds SMU Offer

By EJ Holland

Defensive end has been a focal point for SMU early on in the recruiting process so it comes as no surprise that an offer was extended to Daniel Wise. The three-star out of Hebron is ranked 64th overall at his position and has high interest in the Ponies.

"I'm very interested in SMU. I was very excited when they offered me," he said. "It would be great to play close to home because my family would get to see me."

Wise was recently on the Hilltop for junior day and was impressed with everything SMU has to offer.

"My favorite thing about the day was getting to check out the facilities and the weight room," he said. "Everything was really nice. I really liked the academics and the campus."

Wise doesn't plan to commit anytime soon but says SMU is a school he could definitely see himself playing at and hopes to continue to develop a relationship with his recruiter, Bert Hill.

"Coach Hill addressed the entire group at junior day and told us a lot about the program," Wise said. "I didn't get to talk to him directly, but he came to my school last month and watched me workout. He told he really liked me and would be in contact."

Wise currently has no other offers but has attended junior days at Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Sam Still Has Interest in SMU

By EJ Holland

Finding a hotter name than Christian Sam is tough. The Allen 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker has racked up double digit offers in the past month.

But SMU was the first school to offer, and Sam has not lost interest despite all the newfound attention.

"SMU is still a school I'm considering. It's important that they offered first and it's close to home," he said. "I don't have any favorites right now so SMU is right there with the other schools."

An added bonus is that SMU has also offered his teammate and fellow linebacker Tay Evans. The dynamic duo was on the Hilltop together for SMU junior day last month.

"We've talked about going to school together," Sam said. "Coach (Tom) Mason even told us that he would love to have both us play for him at SMU. Coach Mason is a great guy, and he said he's going to come see both of us this spring.

"He also took us around the campus and the facilities. We had already been there a few times, but everything was really nice."

Sam has also attended junior days at Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Local Defensive Lineman Visits

By Russell Palmer

Sachse experienced a somewhat surprising season this past year, posting an 8-3 record and leading the charge was defensive lineman Hunter Swain, who was on the Hilltop recently for the SMU junior day.

The 6-foot-1, 265-pounder enjoyed his visit and relished the opportunity to learn more about the SMU program.

"I was really impressed. It was already one of my top schools considering my dad went there," he said, "I really like their tutor system for athletes and the facilities were awesome."

Considering the strong family ties with SMU, Swain said the Mustangs are without a doubt near the top of the list, but is still looking into some local programs.

"Besides SMU, Texas State, UTSA, New Mexico, Tulsa, Texas Tech, UNT and Arkansas State are my favorites so far out of al the schools I've talked to," he said.

When trying to find the perfect school, Swain says there are a few different factors he is looking at.

"I'm looking for a school with an up and coming program that can hopefully bw bowl contenders in the coming years," he said. "I also want to find a school with a high graduation rate."

Swain said he hopes to make his decision before the fall season starts so he can focus on football but said he won't rush the big decision, and if he isn't comfortable he will wait until after the season.

Williams Says SMU Is 'Great Fit'

By EJ Holland

As I reported earlier this week, SMU extended an offer to Fort Lauderdale linebacker Jaboree' Williams. In Friday's article, he talked about not knowing too much about SMU.

But that doesn't mean he isn't truly interested.

"SMU is a great fit for me from what I can see because it's a small private school with big time football," he said. "The thing I like is the program is on the rise, and I can get early playing time. Coach Odum said he only offers special kids, and I respect that."

If SMU has a chance at landing Williams, Odum will have to keep in constant contact and cannot afford to practice past methods of extremely casual communication.

"This is the first time I had ever heard from Coach Odum, but he was really cool," Williams said. "Relationships with my recruiters are extremely important. I don't have my dad in my life so I look up to my coaches as father figures."

Williams, who also has an offer from Memphis, liked Odum's pitch so much that he almost pulled the trigger on the spot.

"I actually did think about committing since I was so excited," he said. "But I want to wait until after my senior year to make a decision so I know it's the right one."

Texas QB Checks Out SMU

By Russell Palmer

Killeen Ellison quarterback Trenton Jones was recently on the Hilltop for SMU's first junior day and despite not knowing much about the program, he came away impressed.

Jones, who stands at 6-foot, 190-pounds, was not able to talk one-on-one with any of the Mustang coaches, but liked their pitch as a whole, and now holds high interest in SMU.

"It was great, just a really good time," he said. "I didn't have a chance to talk to any of the coaches alone, but I liked what they were saying to all of us. I really liked the facilities, the history and tradition of the program, and the spread offense they run."

Jones, who does not hold an SMU offer, says he would be incredibly intrigued if the Mustangs offered and currently has SMU at the top of his list. While SMU junior day was his first, it certainly won't be his last, as he plans to travel to Southern Miss sometime soon.

In particular, Jones said he is looking for a school that matches very specific criteria and the Mustangs fit most of his needs.

"I would like to stay close to home, especially to stay in Texas," he said, "I want to like the coaches, and the offense they run there to make sure I am a good fit."

For now, Jones said he is concentrated on improving his game for his senior season, and wants to add some weight onto his frame as well as improve his footwork after passing for 500 yards and six touchdowns last season.

"We have a new coach so I need to learn the new offense fast," he said. "I want to work on my footwork, and my legs in general. I want to keep improving my lower body to get better at running with the ball too."

SMU Eyeing Local NT

By Beionny Mickles

Irving McArthur lineman David Vinson has been visited SMU for junior day and left with a good impression.

"Overall I really liked what I saw," Vinson said. "I liked the campus and I thought the junior day was put together pretty nicely. Seeing how much they've done over the past five years and how many bowl games they've been to was impressive."

Vinson did say that because of the large number of athletes in attendance he was not able to have a very personable experience but did talk to a few coaches including his recruiter, running backs coach Wes Suan.

Vinson, who currently plays on the offensive line as well as defensive tackle, says that SMU told him they were looking at him for the defensive side of the ball. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder thinks that making the permanent shift to defense at the next level would benefit him.

"I think defense would suit me best as far as playing at the next level," Vinson said. "I'm not as big as a lot of Division-I offensive linemen so I feel like on the D-Line I could do well."

Vinson also got a chance to chat with one of SMU's newest additions to their coaching staff, offensive graduate assistant Tommy Poynter. Vinson says that Poynter knows his older brother, who played guard at Stanford, from his time at McArthur high school.

Ironically Poynter has another older sibling who played on the defensive line for Air Force. When asked about his siblings paving the way, Vinson said ‘I have some pretty big shoes to fill.'

Vinson, who has a GPA of 99.4 on a scale of 100, says he has not been looking around at many schools although a number of Ivy League programs have taken notice of him.

Vinson, who has yet to receive an official offer, says he has received letters from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Beloit, Iowa State, and Holy Cross.

LB ‘Definitely' Interested

By Beionny Mickles

Conroe had quite a large showing at the SMU junior day. One member out of their handful of juniors that attended was linebacker Lonnie O'Neal who says he enjoyed his time on the Hilltop.

"I liked the school a lot," O'Neal said. "It seems like they have a really good program."

O'Neal, much like the other juniors in attendance, took a tour of the SMU weight room and saw the football facilities as well as the campus.

Secondary coach Derrick Odum, O'Neal's recruiter, was just one of the staff members he interacted with. O'Neal said he also chatted with former linebackers coach Joe Haering who dropped a few words of wisdom in his ear.

"He told me to get my speed up a little bit and to improve on my quickness," O'Neal said. "He said if I played hard then I would have a good chance of coming to that school."

O'Neal, who currently measures out at 6-foot 215-pounds, runs a 4.72 in the 40-yard-dash. Although offer-less at this time, O'Neal says that he has gotten some interest from Baylor as well as a number of different junior colleges but he ‘definitely' could see himself attending SMU.

At Conroe, O'Neal has been playing inside linebacker- the same position he says SMU is recruiting him to play. O'Neal believes that up to this point in his high school career, he has played well but he can play better; ‘a lot better.'

During this offseason O'Neal will be running the 200m in track as well as throwing shot put. O'Neal says he will also be going on the road to visit Louisiana Lafayette on March 29.

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