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!

Williams Hoping For SMU Offer

By Beionny Mickes

Converse Judson (TX) athlete Cedric Williams got some disheartening news after visiting SMU for their junior day back in February.

The Mustangs told the 6-foot-3 205-pound hybrid tight end that they only had one wide receiver position open for the 2014 class. Williams says he is moderately interested in SMU, but he is still looking for offers.

"It's a beautiful campus there," Williams said. "I'd love to go there, but they said they only had one receiver slot open for the class. I'm interested in any school that is interested in me. I'm willing to work hard for anybody."

Williams says he talked to many of the coaches including his recruiter, Wes Suan. Williams says the coaching staff seemed to be familiar with him and loved his game film. He added that Suan would be visiting Judson in the spring to check him out as well as a few of his teammates.

Williams has received other junior day invitations from Houston, UTSA, Boise State and Texas State but could only make it out to Texas State, UTSA and SMU. Other schools that have shown interest in him are Baylor, Air Force and Wake Forest.

The biggest thing Williams says he is looking for in a school is an offense that can utilize him.

Thus far, he is being recruited both as a tight end as well as a wide receiver but most schools view him as an H-Back and tight end, which is where he thinks he would make the greatest impact at the next level.

At Converse Judson, Williams has played tight end, outside receiver and everywhere in between.

"I'm an excellent blocker so they motion me a lot," Williams said. ‘They use me as a mismatch for smaller cornerback and safeties but they also put me in at the slot because I'm faster than most linebackers."

As of now, Williams has no offers but he expects them to come in after he suits up in full equipment this spring.

"I'm sure coaches really want to see me in pads because I'm not the biggest tight end," Williams said. "When they see me in pads I'm sure I'll get the offers. I'm just waiting for spring ball."

Q&A With SMU DE Elie Nabushosi

By EJ Holland

EJ: This is your first spring at SMU. How are you approaching it mentally?

Elie: "I'm working on staying focused. I'm going to work a lot more on studying film and my playbook. We do a lot of the physical stuff outside and in the weight room so I'm going to take advantage of going into the film room and correcting myself and be hard on myself as far as technique and alignment. There are a lot of things I'll be working on."

EJ: Do you have any individual goals for this spring?

Elie: "Just to understand the defense better. That's one of my goals. Just to understand what everybody is doing on the field and why and just learn how to play as a whole."

EJ: Last year, you redshirted. How did that benefit you?

Elie: "It helped a lot. I went into the weight room and got a chance to lift a lot more and to work on my strength, both upper body and lower body. That's one of the biggest differences transitioning from high school to college. I also worked a lot more on my speed and game speed off of practice as well as agility."

EJ: During that time, I'm sure you also got used to taking college classes, living in Dallas and just being a normal college student. Can you talk about overall how your first semester went?

Elie: "The first month of school was a big rush. It was a little overwhelming, but I'm sure a lot of freshmen feel the same way. It took time to get used to it. But practicing and being around the guys helped out a lot. They're good guys. It helped a lot getting the weight off my shoulders. They provide a lot of good advice and good tips as far as what to do on and off the field. As far as football, I got in the weight room a lot more. Coach Mel did a good job helping me get my weight up. I gained 25 pounds so I met my goal, and I'm still shooting for more."

EJ: Both starters at defensive end graduated so there is going to be a wide-open completion to start. Do you feel your ready to compete for one of those starting spots?

Elie: "I'm ready to compete for a starting job. I have a lot to work on and Coach Hill and Coach Mason and the upperclassmen are working to help me achieve those goals so we'll see how it goes."

EJ: You played a bunch of different positions in high school so you were considered a raw athlete. How did Bert Hill help you develop as a defensive end this past year?

Elie: "Coach Hill has taught me a lot about how to play low and how to use my hands. We work a lot on hand combination drills and that helps out a lot. I didn't really work on that in high school because it wasn't a big part of how we played. But here, Coach Hill emphasizes using our hands a lot. He brings the best out of us individually."

EJ: Another project player that played defensive and is now going to get drafted early is Margus Hunt. Did you learn anything from watching him this season?

Elie: "He plays without a lot of speed. He plays fast and just watching him play, he's tall, but he plays low. That's a big thing with defensive ends. With Margus' height, I learned you can still be taller than others, but you can play at a lower height to get a bigger base. Playing harder and faster is what he always did so I try to take that over to my game."

Aschenbeck Takes In Junior Day

By Russell Palmer

East Bernard (TX) defensive back Grant Aschenbeck finished off his year as a leading contributor to his team's victory in the 2A state championship and has had to focus more on his recruitment during the offseason.

Aschenbeck was at SMU junior day last month and had had some good things to say about the program.

"It was a good day. I liked the campus, and I liked the coaches that I was able to talk to," he said. "Overall it was a good visit, and the facilities also impressed me."

Although the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder is not taking any other junior day visits, he does plan on coming back to the Hilltop this summer.

"I am going to go the SMU camp this summer and play in front of the coaches," he said. "Oklahoma State has been sending me a lot of letters too so I am going there this summer too for their camp."

As far at what he is looking for in a school, Aschenbeck has two key factors as he goes through his recruitment.

"Academics is number one. A good education is important, because there is life after college and football and a good education is important for that," he said. "Being close to home is important too because it would be nice to be close to my parents and friends."

Q&A With SMU OT Taylor Reich

By Omar Majzoub

Omar: What's going on with your injury?

TR: I have an ankle problem again. It feels fine. I mean I'm moving good out there and everything. But when I went to get x-rays on it, they found that my bone has moved out of my ankle again. That means I have to re-do the surgery at some point in my life, but I'm hoping I can stay and play this entire year without it.

Omar: So, the surgery doesn't have to be this year?

TR: They want it to be, but I'm trying to hold off on that.

Omar: What's the next step then?

TR: I'm just waiting. Just waiting to hear what the trainers think I should do and go from there.

Omar: How frustrating are the injuries for you, especially this season where there's an open competition for playing time on the line?

TR: Really frustrating. When I went to the doctor's office, I was not expecting that news, so I was really mad about it. I was disappointed thinking that all the hard work I did in the spring is just for nothing. Actually, it was just the cherry on top because I got robbed this week, too. But yeah, I have been really frustrated and emotional and I talked to my parents a lot about it. I'm just going to see what I can do. I'm hoping I can play.

Omar: What do you think is your biggest strength in this offense?

TR: I'm quick. I know the offense. I've also gotten a lot stronger this year. I think I can play right tackle better than anyone else right now, so it's just a matter of me getting healthy.

Omar: Do you have any goals for this season?

TR: To start. Yeah, that's my goal right now. I want to start.

Red Oak WR On SMU's Radar

By EJ Holland

Despite seeing Ronnie LaRue and Payton Hendrix both transfer, Red Oak still has a talented roster, and SMU would still like to build a pipeline with the school.

One 2014 prospect the Ponies are looking at is wide receiver Shedrick Collins. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound slot receiver says he'd be a perfect fit in the Run N' Shoot offense and has been in contact with SMU defensive line coach Bert Hill.

"We spoke once, and I've gotten letters from them," he said. "I think SMU would be a great place to play. It's close to home, and I really like the offense."

Collins does not hold any offers but says he's also getting interest from North Texas. Over the summer, he hopes to improve his chances of picking one up from SMU by attending a summer camp.

For now, he's focused on bulking up by training vigorously in the weight room.

""I really want to how what I can do at that camp," he said. "I know I need to get my weight up so that's really what I've been focusing on this offseason."

Collins also chimed in on former teammate Jeremiah Gaines, who signed with SMU earlier this spring.

"Jeremiah is just a terrific athlete," Collins said. "I think he's going to do big things at SMU. He was one of the best players I've ever seen."

Q&A With Jonathan Yenga

By Beionny Mickles

B: You've had some time to sit behind some guys like Taylor Reed and Cameron Rogers but now its time for you and some of the younger guys to step up. What are some of your goals for this year and how big of a contribution are you looking to have?

JY: Well my goals for this year are just to improve my technique and to get better at learning the plays and at knowing what I'm doing on the field. T. Reed (Taylor) was a great leader and player that I looked up to, and I'm just trying to be better than him and trying to be better for the team.

B: Kevin Pope and Randall Joyner are listed as the starters right now. How comfortable are you in their abilities since you see them in practice every day?

JY: Pope and Joyner they're great players; I respect them. They've got good skills and good talent. They're the ones that he (Coach Mason) has his hopes on so all I can do is sit there and wait and when I'm up, do my thing. Hopefully soon enough I'll get a starting spot too.

B: How comfortable are you in the defense and what are your thoughts on how Mason has prepared you guys?

JY: I'm really confident. Every year our defense is always one of the ones at the top. Our defense is known as the blitzing defense. We have a lot of speed and athletes. Everybody here is strong, fast and physical so our defense is one of the ones to look out for.

B: How big are you now?

JY: 220

B: Would you say that's one of your goals is to get bigger?

JY: Definitely. That's definitely one of my goals; to get bigger and stronger for next year and get physical.

B: The linebackers have been a strength on this team for a while now. How important is that to you and how do you plan to continue to make that the case?

JY: Well the linebackers, we are the key to the defense. Everything involves us and we just have to step up when our gaps are open and make big plays to help the defense. Whenever our offense isn't doing well that's when we're going to have to step up and take action.

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