The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, we provide exclusive stories and info!

Coach Praises SMU Commit Tyler Harris

By Russell Palmer

It has been two weeks since SMU received a verbal commitment from Pierce County (GA) quarterback Tyler Harris, who is quite possibly there best recruit since the Death Penalty era.

Despite being courted by some of the top programs from the SEC, Harris chose to become a Mustang, and his high school coach Sean Pender details why.

"Well, I think it'll be a great fit for Tyler, being with Hal Mumme and June Jones. The offense SMU runs fits our offense, which he is very good and comfortable in," Pender said. "You look at the two systems combined [Air Raid and Run N' Shoot] which is where some of the best quarterbacks in NCAA history stat wise come from."

Harris decided to pull the trigger and commit to SMU after he visited the Hilltop in late July, and Pender said Harris being comfortable on the Hilltop was the main reason why.

"When he was looking around, he felt at home with the coaches, and he just felt the most comfortable with the campus and school," he said.

Rated as a four-star, Harris has the potential to put up big numbers during his time as a Mustang, especially given how well his talents fit the SMU offense.

"Tyler has an NFL arm, he can throw deep outs with velocity, and he can throw a ball on a rope 60 yards down the field. He has a quick release, and his footwork has gotten better," Pender said. "That was the biggest knock on him after his junior year, but he has worked on it a lot and has become more of a pocket passer."

Harris had offers from the likes of Alabama and Mississippi State, but Pender describes the process of how Harris ended up a Mustang.

"He was leaning towards Alabama early on, but they offered like four quarterbacks, and kept telling them all, Tyler included, to not commit yet and wait. But once they got the guy they really wanted, they kind of pushed Tyler to the side," he said. "But SMU was the best fit for him, and once he visited, and especially when he saw their academics, it wasn't fair."



Cramer Transitions To NT

By Beionny Mickles

Many things went through Brian Cramer's head when SMU asked him to grey shirt back in 2012, but the only thing that mattered to him was working to get back on the field.

The former high school quarterback, who converted to defense to be better recruited, says he did everything in his power to make sure that when the time came, he was prepared to step in and make an impact.

"My main focus was the same as anybody who has been in that position, getting back, staying healthy, working out, eating right and staying in shape," Cramer said.

"I know I had to pass the conditioning test when I came back here so I kept running and working out every day so I'd be on track with everybody else."

After a year of diligence and ‘funnel feeding muscle milk,' Cramer is a completely different player. He currently stands at 280-pounds which is 60 more than what he weighed when he grey-shirted.

Naturally Cramer is also much stronger and could give SMU some much needed help on the interior of the defensive line. At nose tackle, Cramer will be asked to take on double teams, clog up running lanes in addition to other assignments, which he says he is more comfortable doing with the weight he has added.

"Taking on double teams is a lot easier now that I have the weight," Cramer said. "I played a three-technique in high school, which they don't have here but we blitz so much with the nose guard that it's the same thing. I'm always moving. I'm not just taking double teams all day long."

Cramer says the hardest thing about his transition to nose tackle was getting used to the big bodies coming downhill and catching him off guard. But he says by the time the season rolls around, he won't be the one caught sleeping.



Local LB Camps At SMU, Expects Offer

By Scott Sanford

Trinity Christian Addison linebacker Brock Bacon has spent most of his summer attending camps and improving his game as a whole, which has lead to a flurry of interest and offers from schools all over the country, including some Ivy League schools.

Bacon has collected offers from Air Force, Cornell, Penn and has also received interest from SMU, New Mexico and Kansas State.

Although Bacon has not received an offer from SMU yet, the coaching staff has expressed a lot of interested in him and he expects to receive one in the near future.

" I talked to Coach (Tom) Mason and he told me that in the next week or two he'd give me a call and we'd talk about an offer," Bacon said.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder not only has camped at SMU, but he has also had the opportunity to visit the campus on several occasions since it is so close to home.

"I live in Dallas, so it's really nice that it's so close to home and when I camped there, it was a great experience," said Bacon. "The campus is amazing and I can't wait to visit more."

If SMU were to offer, Bacon, who recorded 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season, would have to strongly consider the Mustangs.

"I really like SMU so if they were to offer me they would definitely go to the top of my list," Bacon said.

While the hard-hitting linebacker would strongly consider an SMU offer, he still wants to take his time with making a decision.

" I still plan on taking some visits in the winter," Bacon said. "I want to keep my options open as much as I can."



Ennis Athlete Camps At SMU

By Russell Palmer

In the recruiting world, nothing beats versatility. The ability to play multiple positions can be what separates one prospect from another.

Fortunately for Ennis athlete Marcus Daggs, he has that rare ability, and it is paying dividends off the field.

Daggs, who can play both wide receiver and quarterback, camped at SMU and enjoyed his time on the Hilltop.

"I think I did pretty good at the SMU camp," he said. "I was able to talk to one of the SMU coaches, Eric Daniels, and he was a really nice guy who just talked to me about how the program is up and coming and on the rise."

Daggs, who has been receiving interest from schools such as Texas State, UTSA, Louisiana Tech, and even a bit from Baylor, says that going to school close to home is a big factor, which is one of the reason he is interested in the Mustangs.

"The coaches are cool and laid back there [SMU], and it is close to home which is a big bonus," he said. "Academics is at the top of my list, along with the coaching staff and style of play, and SMU has all of that."

Standing at 6-3, 185-pounds, Daggs would fill the void of a bigger receiver in the Run N' Shoot, but with two receivers already in the fold for the Mustangs, in will be interesting to see what kind of receiver they go after with limited scholarships remaining.

Daggs also played safety for Ennis last season and could be looked at on the defensive side of the ball.



Montes Ready To Play

By Beionny Mickles

The Mustangs secondary has depth. Quality depth.

Last year in fall camp a few of the youngsters surprised on-lookers with their speed, physicality and playmaking ability. One of those players was then true freshman Ajee Montes.

After a year of studying the defense, Montes says he has turned the corner from both a mental and physical standpoint and he is now prepared to go to battle.

"Last year I was a young guy coming in here; I didn't really know a lot," Montes said. "Now I feel like I know everything. I'm physically ready. I got bigger in the weight room this year so I'm ready to play."

This offseason, Montes gained ten pounds of muscle and is up to 195. The young cornerback says the great thing about it is the fact that he didn't lose any speed or quickness. In fact, he got faster.

Currently, the redshirt freshman has stiff competition at the cornerback position. Every day in practice he must try to outperform the likes of Kenneth Acker, J.R. Richardson, Chris Parks, Horace Richardson and a myriad of younger guys hungry to prove themselves as well.

Montes says the level of talent at his position is forcing him to get better each and every time he steps on the practice field. "It's ridiculous how great the talent is right now," Montes said. "The competition is great right now and that's what you need out here. You need dudes competing every day.

"It seems like if I mess up on one play that might be my spot so every play I try to get better and I try to get better every day."

Montes believes the coaches know he is physically capable, but he says he needs to earn their trust in his mental prowess on the field. Showing coaches that he knows what to do on every assignment is what his main focus is during this camp.

A player that has acted as a mentor to Montes is veteran cornerback Kenneth Acker. Montes says he has learned from Acker's on the field play as well as listening to him in the locker room.

"Ack is always on me," Montes said. "He's always telling me little things I can improve on and he has shown me a lot so I thank him for that."

Montes says his personal goals for this camp are to ‘ball out and get that number one spot.'



Suan Keeping Tabs On Owens

By Scott Sanford

Manor running back Tyron Owens was one of many 2014 prospects that was on campus for Junior Day in the spring.

"I toured the facilities, those were really nice, and walked around campus which was beautiful," Owens said.

Since attending Junior Day, the 2014 prospect has stayed in contact with his recruiter, running backs coach Wes Suan.

"I get emails probably every week or so, but I haven't had the chance to talk to Coach Suan or any of the other coaches in person or by phone," Owens said.

Owens has received offers from Texas State, Memphis, New Mexico and New Mexico State, but hopes to receive a few more before the end of his senior season.

Running back is still a position SMU could add to its class and if the Mustangs offer Owens, he would strongly consider the Poines.

"Big time football with a good education, I mean it doesn't get better than that," Owens said.

Before making his decision, Owens hopes to make a few more visits to the schools that show the most interest in him.

"I want to try and get to all the schools that have offered me so that I can see what it would be like to go there," Owens said.

Along with SMU, BYU, Colorado and Baylor have expressed interest in the 5-foot-9 irising senior, and Owens hopes that the work he's putting in this summer won't go unnoticed.

"I've just been working on my quickness and my agility, trying to get ready for my senior year," Owens said. "I'm just trying to be the best player I can be."



Local DE Invited Back After Strong Camp

By Adam Grosbard

2015 Richardson Berkner defensive end Rodney Darare turned the heads of coaches at SMU's football camp last month, earning himself an invitation back to visit SMU.

"I just got an invitation right now," said Darare. "Basically it was a camp invitation and also some information about the school and the coaches."

Darare was pleased with his performance at the camp. "This was my opportunity to get noticed," Darare said. "I basically showed them with my drills, showed them my footwork, fundamentals and all that and my quickness, so I got noticed."

Darare has had an impressive early high school career. As a defensive end on the varsity his freshman year Darare earned Berkner's Defensive MVP award.

In his sophomore year Darare, who also played guard, earned a spot on the all-district second team. Going into his junior year, Darare has simple goals for the season.

"Get bigger, stronger, faster," said the 6-2, 235 pound Darare. Although Darare has not visited SMU outside of camp, he has a strong interest.

"[I like it because of] basically the academics," said Darare. "Their academics are definitely on top and their athletics aren't that bad."

"I want to go to a college that has great tradition and great coaching staff as well as a great faculty that pushes students to succeed," he said in a personal statement.

He also has been recruited by Texas A&M, Oregon, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.



2016 QB Impresses At SMU Camp

By EJ Holland

While a lot of attention was given to 2016 DeSoto quarterback Tristan Wallace, another quarterback from the same class also had an impressive outing at SMU's final summer camp.

Dallas Kimball product Ryan Ross displayed great footwork and an accurate arm as he worked side-by-side with quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison.

""I think I did excellent at the camp. Everything went really well," Ross said. "Coach Morrison said he really liked my fundamentals. He said he didn't have time to give us his contact information. But he told me to look him up on Facebook."

While doesn't have an established relationship with anybody on the football staff, he does have a connection on the basketball staff and says his interest level in SMU is high.

"I've worked with Coach George Lynch in the past. Sometimes I go up there and play basketball and talk to him," Ross said. "I would say SMU is one of my top five schools right now. They have a great program and a great education."

Even though it's still early in the process, Ross says he knows exactly what he's looking for in a school.

"I want to play in an open offense with good coaches," he said. "Good coaches are really important to me because I want to coach if football doesn't work out for me. Right now, I'm open to hearing from any school."

The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder also camped at Baylor and Texas A&M this summer. Ross will be competing for the starting job at Kimball throughout two-a-days.



2015 East Texas QB Camps at SMU

By Adam Grosbard

Whitehouse 2015 quarterback Jackson Allen attended SMU's football camp last month in the hopes of catching the SMU coaching staff's attention.

While he is not the starting quarterback at Whitehouse, Allen is working hard to be in the best position he can be this season as he continues to learn from Texas Tech commit Patrick Mahomes.

"I'm going into the year as the backup," Allen said. "But I'm practicing to get the starting spot, and I'll be ready my senior year for the starting job."

While he does not have a lot of game film to show coaches, Allen has gone to camps to showcase his abilities. Along with SMU, he has gone to camps at TCU and Texas A&M to get on the coaches' radars.

So far, he has not been formally recruited by anyone, though he hopes that changes when he gets the starting job his senior year.

"I've been looked at by a lot of schools but I haven't been recruited yet," Allen said.

Allen has a strong interest in playing at SMU.

"I have a very high interest in it," Allen said. "It's a great school, even scholastically, and they have a great football program and I'm very interested in it."

Allen is considered a dual-threat quarterback and runs a 4.82 forty. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 175-pounds.

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