The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, we provide exclusive stories and info!

Local NT Hoping For SMU Offer

By Omar Majzoub

The SMU coaching staff still needs to fill a big need at nose tackle in the Class of 2014.

One of the recruits they are considering is two-star J.T. Williams of Denton Ryan. Williams took a visit to SMU in early spring and likes what the school has to offer.

"It was a nice environment," he said. "But my visit was a while back, and I haven't talked to the coaching staff at all since then."

Williams currently holds offers from North Texas, Houston, and most recently Missouri. He has also received interest from Oklahoma, LSU and West Virginia. Now, the 6-foot-2, 280-pounder is hoping the Mustangs are next.

"They haven't offered me yet," he said. "They would be up there if they ever did. I would say probably top-3."

Williams is quick for his size. He worked hard all offseason to lose some of what he called "extra weight" and thinks it will improve his game a lot.

"Overall, my biggest strength is my pass rushing ability," he said. "I get off blocks pretty quickly and can overpower some people."

Williams was one of the most productive players on Denton Ryan last season and one of the defensive leaders. He finished with 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles and one blocked field goal.

Interest in Williams could skyrocket if he has a similar year for the Raiders. He says he talks to his defensive coordinator David Thomas a lot about recruiting to get advice on how to handle certain situations.

"I'm just looking for a school where I would get the most playing time and get a good education," he said. "I'm in no rush to make decision though. I'm focused on the season right now."

Big Houston-Area WR Talks SMU

By Russell Palmer

With two slot receiver commits in the 2014 class, the SMU coaching staff is still looking to fill the need of a bigger, more physical receiver.

Unfortunately for Alief Taylor (TX) wide out Romello Brooker, it seems that he will not be playing for the Mustangs next year, as SMU wide receivers coach Jason Phillips has halted his recruitment of the 6-foot-4, 205-pound playmaker.

"No, not really, I haven't heard from the SMU coaches at all recently." Brooker said.

Despite fitting the exact need for the Mustangs as a big, yet speedy receiver, Booker, who has been clocked running a 4.5 40-yard dash, will look elsewhere to play his college ball.

With around 10 offers, it won't be too hard for Brooker to find a program to play for. But with no leaders at this point, it wouldn't be too late for the Mustangs to jump back into the mix.

"I'm still open at this point. I have about 10 offers but don't have any favorites or leaders right now," he said. "I'm trying to look for a school with a good engineering program, and a football team that will throw the ball a lot."

With the Mustangs fitting the exact criteria Brooker is looking for, it seems that if they did show interest soon, they could still have a shot at landing Brooker. But the Phillips would have to hurry.

"I plan on making my decision before the season is over, sometime in the late fall," he said.

Scouting Report: Plano West OLB Lance Cottrell

By EJ Holland

Quick Take: This was a crazy game. I only saw Cottrell play in the first quarter because Plano West jumped out ahead 28-0. But Lake Highlands rallied, and he was forced to go back in midway through the third for a limited amount of time. Honestly, I need to see him again before I make any big claims about him.

But here are the positives- I really liked his sideline to sideline speed. Cottrell lined up as a WILL linebacker on Plano West's 4-3 defense and did a great job of reading plays and making tackles on the other side of the field. Speed is definitely his best asset. He also looked good in pass coverage. I think he can definitely match up with faster slot receivers. He's also athletic and lengthy. I think my favorite play was his batted ball at the line of scrimmage.

Here are the negatives- Cottrell stays on blocks for way too long. He needs to rip, swim or spin to get away from opposing offensive tackles. He also needs to bulk up in order to not be driven back by these guys as well. Cottrell will be used much more as a pass rusher on the edge in SMU's scheme so it's important for him to improve on all of the above. Overall, I would give him a B but like I said, I need to see more.

2016 Point Guard Holds SMU Offer

By Russell Palmer

With the recent commitment of five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, the SMU coaching staff is riding a wave of momentum sent through the recruiting landscape never experience before by the Mustang basketball program.

With more publicity and expose than ever before, Larry Brown and his staff of ace assistants are making sure to take advantage of the notoriety and recently offered 2016 point guard Roman Young, out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas.

"I know coach K.T. Turner from his time at Wichita State, and I've been around him a lot," Young said. "Getting a guy like Mudiay is really big for the program, and they have Larry Brown, who is a legend."

Despite being a 2016 recruit, Young says the SMU coaching staff is in constant contact with him, which is peaking his interest in the Mustangs.

"Coach K.T. has come to see some games, and he's been talking to me a lot about SMU. We have a real good relationship," Young said. "I have never visited SMU, but they want me to come watch a game soon but other than that, I don't know much. I haven't been interested in the SMU basketball program until recently."

And while Young has a few years to decide where he wants to play his college ball, it looks like what SMU offers not just as a basketball program, but as a university could help gain his commitment.

"I want to feel comfortable with the coaches and the school, and obviously academics are big, for and my family," he said.

Although SMU is his first offer, don't expect it to be his last, as both local and national schools are showing high interest in the talented guard, who will see more playing time in the next few years once current starter and four-star prospect Lourawls Nairn graduates.

Highly Touted QB Interested In SMU

By Scott Sanford

Usually when you hear schools like Ohio State, Nebraska, North Carolina and TCU mentioned throughout recruiting, SMU is not mentioned along with them.

In this case, 2015 Celina quarterback Nathan Elliott still has a lot of interest in SMU even after his recruiting process has picked up in recent weeks.

Although UNC and Army are the only two schools to have offered Elliott, he believes that could change quickly.

"I've finally started to get some mail so it's definitely going better now," Elliott said. "There are other quarterbacks like me in my class that have gotten five or six offers so I thought I was a little behind for a while."

While SMU hasn't offered the 6-foot-1 junior yet, if an offer were to be extended his way, Elliott would heavily consider the Mustangs. Elliott has not had a lot of contact with the coaching staff since he camped on the Hilltop but hopes that changes in the future.

"I have a lot of interest in them (SMU)," Elliott said. "I really like the campus, it's close to home and the academics are great."

Elliott hopes to at some point this season to take a trip to Ford Stadium to take in a game and hopefully get a look at the football facilities.

At this point, Elliott said that his top two schools are UNC and TCU, but if more schools offer him, that could change.

It is still early in the recruiting process for the junior, so for now, Elliott is staying focused on the season, trying to help his team win games.

"We had a great come-from-behind win last week so we are just trying to build off of that and keep the ball rolling," he said. " I just love playing ball."

This week, Elliott passed for 198 yards and two scores in a 48-7 blowout win over Crandall.

3-Star DE Likes SMU

By Adam Grosbard

2014 three-star defensive end Sekou Clark of Denton Ryan is considering SMU in a recruiting process he describes as wide-open.

Clark visited SMU during his junior year and enjoyed his time on the Hilltop.

"I visited SMU last year," Clark said. "I liked it. It was nice. I met a couple of the players and took a look around the campus. The campus was nice. They have a lot of nice buildings. The football facilities were nice too.

"I'm definitely interested in SMU," said Clark. "You know I'm open to anybody right now. And SMU is a program I would like to be a part of."

Clark has primarily been recruited by defensive line coach Bert Hill.

"Coach Hill has been recruiting me," Clark said. "But we haven't talked in a minute."

While Clark and Hill have not spoken at length about how he would fit into the Mustang defense, Clark has no problems envisioning how he could contribute.

"I think what I can provide for SMU in a number of ways," said Clark. "With my speed, getting off the ball, and getting after the quarterback."

Washington State, Tulane and ULM have offered Clark, but he wants to focus on his senior year before he begins his decision making process.

"I'm just trying to focus on football right now," Clark said.

Clark had a dominating effort in Ryan's opening-week win, tallying one sack and four tackles for loss before sitting out the second half of the blowout win over Corsicana. His goals for his senior year remain simple.

"I want to win state ultimately," Clark said. "Personally, I want to have as many sacks as possible and as many tackles as possible. But ultimately I want to win state. That's the big picture. Team is important to me. [Head coach Joey Florence] instills that in us."

ULM Commit Hoping For SMU Offer

By Omar Majzoub

2014 Mexia athlete Kaylon Watson is quickly becoming a hot commodity in recruiting circles.

After being named first team all-district in 2011, Watson bounced back with another terrific season last year and was selected to participate in the Blue-Grey National Super Combine at the New England Patriots Training Complex in Foxboro, Mass. this summer.

The Blue-Grey National Super Football Combine takes 170 prospects from several regional combines including the Midwest, Heartland, Southeast, Southwest, New England, Northern California, Southern California and Great Lakes, and gathers them into one big nationwide combine.

"It was an incredible experience for me," he said. "I got to represent the entire Mexia community, so it was a big honor."

Watson is listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds and can run a 4.53 40-yard dash. He is currently committed to ULM but is hoping to hear back from the Mustangs soon.

"I camped with them in July," he said. "I really liked the campus a lot and met with Coach (Eric) Daniels and the coaching staff. I plan on taking another visit, but I don't really know when right now."

Watson has not been in much contact with the SMU coaching staff lately but still believes he would be a good fit at the Hilltop.

"To me, coaching staff and academics are most important," he said. "SMU would probably be a favorite if they did offer because they have a really good coaching staff and great academics."

Watson is listed as an athlete because he plays multiple positions on both offense and defense for the Blackcats. He has seen time at quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive back.

"I don't really care what position I'm playing," he said. "Most people and coaches tell me I'm a safety, but I don't really know. I'm just willing to do anything to help the team win and will play any position they ask me to."

Local 2015 QB interested In SMU

By Adam Grosbard

2015 Lake Highlands quarterback Brock Jones has lived close to SMU his whole life and hopes to have the chance to play there one day.

His proximity to SMU has made Jones very knowledgeable about the school.

"SMU is obviously a great school," Jones said. "I've lived ten minutes away from there my whole life so I know all about it.

"I've been there multiple times, and I went to the football camp there this summer. It's close to home, which is a relatively good thing. The academics are great, which is another big thing in my life. Also, I like how close it is to downtown. That's also pretty cool."

Jones felt like he learned a lot at SMU's football camp this summer.

"I liked the SMU camp a lot," Jones said. "Coach (Hal) Mumme was really helpful with the tips that he gave me. I remember at one point, he told me to keep my eyes on the receiver on the deep ball the whole time the ball is in the air to help my accuracy. That has been really helpful now that the season has started."

Jones also attended Baylor and Texas Tech camps this summer. While he has received an offer from SMU or other programs so far, his goals for his junior season should help him gain the attention of schools.

"Obviously grow and learn about the game," Jones said. "I didn't start last year, but I got a little bit of playing time so this year establish myself on the team and win some football games. Going to more camps and obviously my performance on the football field, making my name there, will help me gain more attention."

On Friday night, Jones passed for 149 yards, rushed for 106 yards and scored four total touchdowns in a 52-33 loss to Plano West.

Local ATH Camped At SMU

By Scott Sanford

Although 2014 Garland athlete V.J. Gates has yet to receive an offer, and hasn't received a tone of interest from schools, he still believes a couple of schools, including SMU, could have more interest in him by the end of his senior season.

"The recruiting process is going all right, but it's been a little difficult at times," Gates explained. "I haven't received any offers yet but SMU and Tulsa have expressed some interest and Missouri and Iowa as well."

Gates, who camped at SMU this summer, really enjoyed the coaching staff and what the campus has to offer.

"I really liked the coaching staff because they seemed really down-to-earth," he said. "I also think I performed pretty well so I hope I made an impression."

While Gates feels he made a good impression over the summer, he has had no contact with the SMU coaching staff since he attended camp on the Hilltop.

Other schools such as Tulsa and Iowa have been in contact with Gates more recently, but still have yet to really show their interest in the 5-foot-9 speedster.

Gates does not have any visits planned thus far, but once he feels a school is sincerely interested in him, he plans to take one or two visits

"I don't want to waste my time visiting schools that aren't really interested in me so once a school really starts recruiting me then I'll take some trips."

While at times it's tough to stay positive when schools are not calling as frequently, Gates, who plays quarterback for the Owls, hopes that he can changes people's minds this season.

"My focus right now is to just let my playing do the talking," he said. "At the end of the day, if a school is going to offer me, I can promise them it won't be a waste of an offer."

A Look At How Some SMU Commits Did...

- Jordan Ingram caught three passes for 66 yards and three touchdowns in Dallas Carter's 35-16 win over Terrell.

- Tyler Harris was 14-of-31 for 187 yards and scored two total touchdowns in Pierce County's 24-7 win over Bacon County.

- Darrell Colbert was 12-of-18 for 135 yards and scored two total touchdowns in Houston Lamar's 38-6 win over FB Elkins.

- Jordan Severt went 23-of-43 for 348 yards and five touchdowns in Austin Westlake's 45-41 win over Temple.

- Jordan Wyatt recorded two interceptions in Wylie East's 42-20 win over Frisco Liberty.

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