The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, we provide exclusive stories and info

Local OL Close To Committing

By Beionny Mickles

As of Friday night, SMU and Yale are the only two schools that have offered Mansfield Legacy offensive tackle Chad Pursley. If this statement is still accurate on the morning of June 1, Pursley says he will commit to SMU.

"I'll probably go ahead and make that call on June 1st," the 6-foot-5, 235-pound lineman said.

Pursley received an offer from SMU back in February and says he is as fond of the school now as he was back then. Pursley took a visit to the Hilltop for the Ponies' final spring practice, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

"I really liked how the practices were set up and the family day at SMU," Pursley said. "I saw some of the campus, which was really nice, and I just liked the overall feel of it. I was really happy to get the offer."

Although SMU is his school of choice, Pursley has a plethora of different suitors who are waiting on him to gain weight before pulling the trigger. Kansas State, Tulsa, TCU, Baylor, Houston, Navy, Air Force, Oklahoma and UTEP all watched him practice recently.

Pursley says many of the schools believe he has the talent to be a force on the line because of his athleticism, which he has developed from playing basketball. He believes that once he puts on the pounds, his recruiting will definitely pick up.

"A lot of schools know that I'm athletic and that I can play," he said. "They're just waiting on me to develop as an O-lineman, getting bigger and stronger. So they'll probably wait and see how it goes."

SMU running backs coach Wes Suan saw everything he needed to see however, and pulled the trigger on the undersized athlete early, and now almost four months later, it appears he will reap the reward.

Odum Visits Florida Athlete

By Billy Embody

2014 Western HS (Fla.) athlete Juwan Dowels has 14 offers from anywhere from Appalachian State to Tulane to Cincinnati, but SMU has yet to extend an offer. That doesn't mean the Mustangs are not interested in the talented playmaker.

SMU defensive backs coach Derrick Odum visited Dowels during the school day two weeks ago and got to talk with him for a few minutes about SMU and his talents. An offer was not extended, but it was a good experience for Dowels.

"We just talked about the school and me getting the chance to come up and see it," he said. "He told me a lot about the school and he was talking about me too."

What Odum likes about the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder is something the Mustangs could desperately use on all sides of the ball.

"My play-making ability," Dowels said. "I have a lot of it, and they're looking at me on both the offensive and defensive side."

Most schools are recruiting Dowels as a defensive back, but the fact that SMU is looking at him as a potential athlete didn't seem to bother Dowels. It's still extremely early in the process for Dowels, who hasn't done much research on the schools he holds offers from yet.

"I haven't made any decisions on where I will be going to camp and stuff like that until next week when I sit down with my parents and talk about that stuff," Dowels said.

Dowels' other offers include Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Ball State and Utah State to name a few. The offers have come in flurries for Dowels, but with the spring winding down, it will be nice for him to start looking at them.

Mainly, Dowels is looking for a solid relationship with the coaching staff to start and his relationship with Odum appears to be one that is positive.

"He's a straight-up guy. He basically told me how it was. He likes me," Dowels said. "They don't want to waste my time, and they don't want me to waste their time so I liked that."

If the Mustangs offer, the relationship with Odum could be a plus, but for now, Dowels is taking his time with all of his options.

Rhone Holds SMU Offer

By EJ Holland

Texarkana linebacker Anthony Rhone is glad he made the trip down to watch SMU's spring game last month. After all, he came away with an offer.

"Coach (Tom) Mason had been wanting me to go down there so I visited for the spring game, and he offered me," Rhone said. "I was really excited because it's a great academic school. It's one most respected schools in the nation, and they have great engineering school."

Rhone spent of his time on campus observing the defense and says he liked what he saw.

"I watched the linebackers and the defense, and I like their style," he said. "I actually got to meet some of the players, and they were all really nice and welcomed me with open arms."

Last season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder notched 146 tackles and one interception. Rhone believes he can play either inside or outside linebacker in SMU's 3-4 scheme because of his speed and aggressiveness.

"I'm pretty versatile so Coach Mason said I could play both. He said that I can bring another dimension to his defense," Rhone said. "Coach Mason seems like someone I would want to play for, and SMU is definitely one of my top schools right now."

Rhone does not hold any other offers but has received strong interest from Arkansas, Mississippi State and UNT. Rhone says he plans on visiting SMU again this summer.

SMU Targeting Mac Irvin Fire Prospects

By Omar Majzoub

Mac Irvin Fire has been one of the best AAU teams in the country the past few years. They are always loaded with multiple four and five-star recruits that get sent to the best basketball programs around the nation.

This season, the SMU coaching staff has targeted two of Mac Irvin Fire's best players. 2014 five-star big man Cliff Alexander and 2015 four-star point guard Jalen Brunson both play for the Chicago-based team and have received interest from a lot of schools around the nation.

After going 3-1 during the Nike EYBL session in Dallas a few weeks ago, Mac Irvin Fire coach Mike Irvin talked about the two SMU prospects and their games.

"Jalen is big-time," he said. "He is one of the top point guards in the country and he's going to be a pro at the end of the day. He is still kind of learning the game and feeling everything out right now."

Although Brunson was very impressive for Mac Irvin Fire, Alexander might have been the team's best player that weekend. He had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in his first game and dominated the paint against every big man he went up against.

"Cliff is a monster," Irvin said. "He is going to make a $100 million dollars one day. He is just so tenacious and tough."'

Last year, SMU was able to convince four-star guard Sterling Brown to join the Hilltop after he played his AAU ball for Mac Irvin Fire. Irvin is growing more comfortable with the SMU program and feels a relationship is starting to build.

"I think it's a good school," he said. "They got a legendary coach in Larry Brown and Jerrance Howard is doing a good job over there. He is from around the Illinois area so we respect him a lot."

SMU also landed three-star Ben Moore last year from the Illinois area. With Howard and former Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich on the coaching staff, SMU should continue to find continued success there.

Wise Lists Top Three

By EJ Holland

Hebron defensive end Daniel Wise has been one of SMU's top targets this spring. Just a few weeks ago, SMU defensive line coach Bert Hill stopped by practice to catch up with the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder.

"Coach Hill came by to watch me," Wise said. I really didn't talk to him much. He just told me to keep up the good work and said he still liked me."

But SMU is currently not in Wise's top three. That list consists of Kansas, Louisiana Tech and Texas Tech.

"The Kansas coaches are great. They keep in touch a lot so that's why they're up there," Wise said. "Texas Tech is a great program, and I like that they're in the Big 12. Louisiana Tech has been showing a lot of interest, and the coaches are really cool."

SMU is not out of it yet though. But in order to land the three-star prospect, the Mustangs will have to start showing more love.

"SMU is still a school I might consider," he said. "But right now, I'm not sure. I haven't really kept in contact with them lately."

Wise plans on making a final decision after his senior season.

Morrison Visits Igbinoba

By EJ Holland

SMU has been targeting Richardson running back Kendrick Igbinoba for quite some time now. But the Mustangs have yet to extend an offer.

Still, Igbinoba remains optimistic about his chances especially after conversing with SMU quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison last week.

"I had a real good talk with Coach Morrison after my spring game," Igbinoba said. "He told me he wants me to go up to their camp so he can see me at running back, wide receiver and quarterback. He said if I do well, I'd probably pick up an offer there."

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder played a little bit of all three positions for Richardson last season and says he would be comfortable at any skill position on offense.

Igbinoba has raked up three offers since visiting SMU earlier this spring but still says the Mustangs are on of his favorites.

"SMU is close to home, and I really like their coaching staff. Coach Morrison is really chilled and relaxed," Igbinoba said. "They are up there with New Mexico, Oregon State and UTEP since all three have offered me."

Besides SMU, Igbinoba plans on visiting Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this summer.

King Closing In On SMU Offer

By Omar Majzoub

Richardson safety Noah King might be one of the most underrated recruits in all of Texas. After breaking his fibula last season and only playing in four games, King wasn't receiving a lot of interest from schools until this spring. Now, he feels he is close to receiving an offer from SMU.

"Coach Mason came to watch me at my spring game and I talked to him a lot," King said. "I am on their offer list, but he has to wait until all the coaches get back from their recruiting trips. Then they can start handing out offers."

King says academics and location will play a big role in his decision. After visiting the Hilltop a few times, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder sees SMU as a perfect fit.

"I love the school," he said. "I love the coaching staff and the environment. I have visited about three times and really enjoyed it."

Boise State, Northern Illinois, Ole Miss, Tulsa, and ULM have been in contact with King throughout the spring. He also has been working with a personal trainer on improving his game and preparing for next year.

"Schools have told me I have a high skill set," he said. "I have great footwork and hips, but I'm still building on it. I know schools are looking for an athletic, fluid defensive back. I think I could even play corner, but I'm a good size to play safety."

The versatile King expects to have the best season of his career next year and says his goal is to make the playoffs. He also hopes to be finished with recruiting by the first week of the season.

"I'm probably going to make a decision on where I'll commit to before the season starts," he said. "It'ws pretty early for me, but SMU is definitely a top school."

SMU Offers 2015 TE

By EJ Holland

SMU offered 2015 tight end Matthew Weeks out of Tyler Lee last month and followed that up by offering 2015 Plano tight end Sam Tecklenburg last week.

"One of their coaches showed up after practice when we were on the way in," Tecklenburg said. "He talked to my head coach and then he let me know that I had an offer. I was really excited."

Tecklenburg, who also holds an offer from Tulsa, says he is looking for a school that is close to home and has prestigious academics. SMU fits both categories, and the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is extremely interested especially after visiting earlier this spring.

"I really liked it when I went down there. I got a chance to meet some of the coaches, and they were all friendly," he said. "I knew Blake McJunkin since he went to Plano, and he showed me around. He had some great things to say."

Tecklenburg also plays defensive tackle for Plano and was the 10-5A co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned first team all-district honors at tight end.

He hopes find out where he is being recruited at when he camps at SMU next weekend.

Locke Elated By Offer

By Beionny Mickles

Last week, SMU offered Beaumont Central cornerback James Locke, who was overly excited about earning his first scholarship.

"I feel kind of emotional at the moment," said Locke. "I didn't want to buckle down in front of their coaches, my coaches or my parents."

SMU quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison, Locke's recruiter, took the trip down to Beaumont to see the sophomore in spring practices. After evaluation, Locke says his head coach introduced him to Morrison, who extended the offer.

Morrison told Locke that SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason had a great first impression of him because of his firm handshake. Mason also said that he liked Locke's aggressive style of play.

With Locke not graduating for another two years, SMU was the first school to send an offer his way, which he says shows their true interest in him as a football player and as someone who can make an impact early on campus.

"It shows that they‘re trying to get me first," Locke said. "They're not holding back. They have a lot of time to get me but them offering now shows that I'm a player that can be there and play early on."

Locke, who visited SMU at their final spring practice, says that he has a natural connection to SMU because of a couple of Mustangs from around the Beaumont area. Locke says that he was extremely impressed when one of them landed with the Cowboys.

"I love SMU," Locke said. "They have some guys down there like Taylor Reed and Keenan Holman and it makes me want to go there even more. Taylor ended up going to the Cowboys after this year's draft, and that attracts me even more."

Locke has been one of the fastest and youngest rising stars in the state and is already one of the biggest names in the Southeast Texas area.

Although SMU is Locke's only offer at the moment, he has the interest of a myriad of schools around the region. Locke says that Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor will all be at his spring game.

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