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!

Phillips Checks Up On Washington

By Billy Embody

2014 Alief Elsik wide receiver Malcolm Washington does not have any offers, but the 6-foot-2, 160-pound receiver says that may not be the case for very long.

SMU wide receivers coach Jason Phillips spoke to Washington last week and told him to come to the Mustangs' June 1 camp. At the camp, Washington will find out just how well he fits into SMU's Run N' Shoot offense and how close he is to joining teammate Ishmael Zamora on the Ponies' offer list.

"I like the way they spread the ball out and the way the receivers are spread out. I'm a go-get-it jump ball receiver, speed receiver, down and distance receiver, anything really so I feel like I'd fit well," Washington said.

Washington says he believes he can be used like Texas Tech used Michael Crabtree in their offense and that his abilities could make that a reality.

"My ability to get past defenders," he said. "I'm quick on my feet and quick off the line."

Washington has only been hearing from Utah and Iowa State, but Tulsa also jumped in and told him to come to their camp this summer. Summer for Washington will mean working to improve on his 12 receptions for 188 yards last season and that starts in the weight room.

"Getting stronger. Everyday the weight room counts," Washington said. "It's my senior year and I can't go back in time. I got to get it now or never by working hard."

Alief Elsik has won district two years in a row and one of Washington's goals is to make it three in a row.

"I know there's going to be four seniors that played varsity coming back and the rest are juniors and sophomores so I know they'll be looking up to me as a leader and a leader at receiver," Washington said.



Harris Still Interested In SMU

By Russell Palmer

After a crazy turn of events that saw Skyline wide receiver Emmanuel Harris try to commit to the Mustangs, only to find out he didn't have an offer, Harris is now on the open market and looking at his various options.

"I'm interested in a lot of different schools," he said. "I like SMU, Baylor, Oregon, Texas A&M, really any program that likes to throw the ball."

When speaking about SMU particularly, Harris seemed to have no angst against the Mustangs, and said he is still interested in the program and the possibility of making the Hilltop his future home.

"I really like SMU," he said. "The environment is great, and I really like coach June Jones and the offense he runs and how he likes to throw the ball all over."

It seems as if for now, Harris has moved on from a very odd series of events, and is now determined to find a school that fits his wants and needs.

"I'm just looking at everything right now. I'm not worried about staying close to home," he said. "I wouldn't mind being far away from home, to be far away and grow on my own."

For now, Harris is focused on preparing on his upcoming senior campaign, and the pressures of playing for a powerhouse like Skyline and has pinpointed a few areas of his game he would like to improve upon.

"I've been lifting a lot of weights, and studying the playbook, just trying to get my mind right for the season," he said.



Quick Twitch Event Notebook

By EJ Holland

Last Sunday, I got to head out to the Quick Twitch event to watch a couple of SMU prospects, but before I talk about each one, I had the opportunity to speak to most of the Quick Twitch staff and get their thoughts.

- Coach Clay Mack trains some of the most highly touted defensive backs in the state including 5-star Hebron DB Jamal Adams so I thought it would be a good idea to ask him about Ronnie LaRue since there have been some mixed reviews about him. Mack told me Larue is definitely an FBS player, and he thinks SMU would be a great fit for him. He said Larue needs to improve on his physicality, but he has great speed and quickness.

- Coach David Robinson focuses on training some of the top wide receivers in the area including Ole Miss signee Quincy Adeboyejo. I asked Robinson about Trae Hart since he mentioned him to me when we first met at the Nike Camp. Robinson says Hart has been working tremendously hard this offseason and would commit to SMU if offered. He believes teams are underrating Hart, and SMU would get an absolute steal if they land him later this spring. He did mention that Hart was a little 'hurt' SMU hadn't offered yet.

- Elliot Bailey helps out at many of these events, and I asked him about SMU's presence in Dallas. He told me that he doesn't quite understand why SMU isn't mentioned more often when he speaks to recruits and feels the SMU staff needs to get out in Dallas more often. He was also baffled that June Jones does not recruit Euless Trinity and L.D. Bell more heavily considering June's love for Hawaii and those schools' Samoan presence. Since SMU is in need of a nose tackle, he suggested L.D. Bell's Mohelika Uasike, who holds offers from Utah and Utah State.

- As far as the players, Ronnie Larue was pretty impressive. He struggled against bigger and more physical receivers mostly because they were able to create separation at the line of scrimmage. But again, this was against Adeboyejo and Arizona State signee Ellis Jefferson. When going against receivers in his own class, Larue showed outstanding quickness and instincts. I still feel like he's a guy SMU should wait on, but with his connections to top prospects in the area as well as to his teammates at Bishop Dunne, Larue may not be a bad option this spring.

- Other winners of the event in my opinion were James Proche and Ian Neithercut. Proche was the best wide receiver out there and blew by defenders on numerous occasions. He runs good routes and is extremely fast. Robinson believes it's only a matter of time before he picks up a load of offers. Neithercut will be a good option for the Ponies later in the summer or during the season. I think he's a bit underrated. Yes, he's pretty small, but he never lost his man and was one of, if not, the fastest defensive back out there.

- I also talked to Cedric Dale, who was invited to SMU junior day. The Hebron athlete says he was unable to attend and hasn't heard anything from SMU since. He holds a few offers including one from Texas Tech.

VIDEO: Little Elm Athlete Quinlan Gaines





Gaines Reviews SMU Visit

By Beionny Mickles

SMU's tight end of the future, Jeremiah Gaines, came to watch the final practice of the spring and said he really enjoyed himself.

"It was just a fun experience," Gaines says. "I liked the way that everybody was interacting. The practice went well. In general it was just a good day."

After a disappointing basketball season, Gaines says he's been working on the programs that SMU has sent to his home, focusing on school and getting mentally prepared to make his debut in college.

Gaines says that although he really can't speak on the changes that the offense is undergoing, he is excited for the new packages that will be implemented by the first game of the upcoming season.

Attending the spring game event with Gaines was his father, his good friend and his mentor. Gaines says that after the practice, his father said he was highly anticipating the start of the next season.

"He's getting excited the closer that it gets," Gaines said.

Gaines was once teammates with another recruit that SMU is targeting- Payton Hendrix. Hendrix transferred to Bishop Dunne but still keeps a close relationship with Gaines, who says he's like a brother to him.

"Man, he's a great athlete," Gaines said. "He was like a little brother to me when he was here. We did a lot of stuff together. He's just a great athlete and a good kid."

Gaines will be reporting to SMU on July 1.

VIDEO: SMU Signee Myles Crosby





McGee Recaps Visit

By Russell Palmer

Mansfield Legacy defensive back Jared McGee made a name for himself in his junior season and is seeing the fruits of his labor this offseason.

McGee was on the Hilltop recently to watch the SMU spring game, and was able to get a better sense of what the Mustangs have to offer.

"It was nice, really nice just being in a college atmosphere," he said. "It was a really good experience just to be around the coaches, and I was able to pickup a lot of different things to help my own game."

McGee got to spend time watching the SMU defensive coaches and liked what he saw from them teaching wise. But he came away even more impressed after he got a chance to speak to some of them.

"I was able to talk to Coach (Derrick) Odum, who gave me a lot of good feedback on my game and the SMU program. He talked about what SMU does good, especially academically," McGee said. "I was also able to talk to Coach (Wes) Suan briefly, which was cool."

McGee, who stands at 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, has impressed a slew of different programs with his ability to stop the run from the backfield, which has allowed McGee to explore many different options.

"Vanderbilt, TCU, the Naval Academy, and Oklahoma State have all expressed interest in me, and I plan to look into each program more," he said.

Specifically when finding his future school, McGee says two factors are most important to him.

"Proximity to home is a big deal, it would be great to stay close," he said, "I am interested in doing business in college, so I've been researching the different business schools and the types of programs they offer."



Durham Sees SMU

By Beionny Mickles

North Forney offensive tackle Taylor Durham visited the Hilltop for SMU's last practice of the spring.

The 6-foot-3 225-pound athlete, who has not received any offers, says SMU is his most prominent interest. He also has gained interest from UNT as well as a couple of Division-II programs.

UNT and SMU are the only schools Durham has visited thus far although he had junior day invitations from the Houston and New Mexico State. Durham says he really enjoyed his time on the Hilltop.

"I really like it. It's a good fit," Durham said. "Coach (June) Jones is one of my favorite coaches. He's good with the offensive line, and I've been playing that for a little bit. I feel like it would be one of the best fits for me."

Durham says that he's developed a good relationship with SMU head coach June Jones, who told him to stay focused, make good grades and stay in contact with the recruiter in his area, defensive coordinator Tom Mason.

At 225-pounds, Durham says that Mason is either looking at him as a defensive end or at tight end. At the spring game, Durham was stationed near the wide receivers, which suggests that SMU wants him on the offensive side of the ball.

Durham says he thinks he would have the most impact on the offensive side of the ball because of his experience as a blocker.

"I feel like I'd be more productive as a tight end," Durham said. "I'm a good blocker because this past year I played offensive tackle so I have a lot of experience with that. I also love to catch the ball. I've been doing it since I was little."

This offseason Durham says he plans to continue to gain strength while working on getting better at tight end, the position he will be playing next season.

VIDEO: Prime Prep WR James Proche





SMU Targeting Prep Linebacker

By EJ Holland

Grade problems often keep prospects from signing with FBS teams no matter how talented they are. This applies to Houston Yates linebacker Eron Williams, who will be playing at Southeast Prep this year.

"I feel I didn't get any offers because of my grades, but prep school is going to give me another year to get things right," Williams said. "I think it will help me fix my grades and get bigger, faster and stronger."

If Williams can get back on track, SMU may have a spot open for him. Last week, SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason emailed the 6-foot, 215-pounder to let him know of the Mustangs interest in him

"Coach Mason emailed me and told me he was interested in me playing inside linebacker and wanted me to go to their camp in Houston this summer," he said. "My uncle knows Coach (Jason) Phillips, and I think that's how it got started"

If SMU does extend an offer, Williams says he would be extremely interested.

"I would like to play for SMU because it's close to home and my family can watch me," he said. "I know they are going to a bigger conference, and I think I'll visit after the camp."

Houston, Purdue and Wyoming have also expressed interest in Williams.



Suan Keeping Tabs On Limon

By EJ Holland

Buda Hays offensive lineman Bobby Limon doesn't have an offer from SMU yet, but he could be getting very close. SMU offensive line coach Wes Suan has kept in contact with Limon, who visited for SMU junior day earlier this spring.

"Coach Suan has kept in touch via email. We usually communicate about twice a month," Limon said. "I send him updates, and he's a really great guy. I love his enthusiasm."

Limon was supposed to be on the Hilltop for the SMU spring game last month, but a death in the family prevented the trip. Limon, however, plans on visiting this summer and has SMU high on his list.

"I love SMU's academics and how they offer a bunch of tutoring to their athletes," he said. "The campus is really nice and so are the facilities. I think SMU could be the school for me."

Limon has also visited UTSA and Texas this spring. Along with SMU, he plans on camping at Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas State this spring as he pursues his first offer.



Roland Has High Interest In SMU

By Omar Majzoub

A.J. Roland has always dreamed of receiving an FBS football scholarship. Now, the 6-foot-1, 270-pound offensive lineman out of Sachse believes he may be close to achieving his dream.

"I have gotten interest from a lot of schools," he said. "A big part of my goal for this season is to earn a scholarship. I have probably talked to Louisiana-Monroe and SMU the most."

Roland was first-team all district last season and says he has been working extremely hard in the offseason to improve his game. He dealt with injuries last season, but was cleared to resume normal workouts on May 2.

"I hired a trainer to work me out on Saturdays and Sundays to go along with my Monday through Thursday workouts," he explained. "I'm just keeping busy and grinding away."

He says his interest in SMU sparked from current offensive lineman Kris Weeks, a Sachse product, telling him about the coaching staff and facilities.

"I came up for Junior Day and a spring practice earlier in the month," he said. "I really liked it a lot. I think I'm going to come back in the fall for another couple of visits."

Roland says he has developed a good relationship with defensive coordinator Tom Mason and believes the Mustang coaching staff views him as a center. He is currently the captain of the Sachse team and believes they are poised to have a very dynamic offense next season.

"I want to have about 70 takedowns or pancakes," he said. "I also think we have good chance to win our district this season, so those are some of my other goals."

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