The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, we provide exclusive stories and info!

Villalobos Weighing Options

By EJ Holland

The bottom line is SMU still needs a nose tackle.

Why they aren't targeting more mammoth defensive linemen is puzzling. But one prospect that's still out there is Keller Fossil Ridge's Anthony Villalobos, who picked up an offer from the Mustangs in the spring.

Although the 6-foot-2, 275-pounder currently plays defensive end, he feels he can transition inside at the next level.

"A lot of schools want me as a straight defensive lineman because they like my size and quickness," he said. "It doesn't matter to me where I play. I would be comfortable at either position."

So is Villalobos an option for the Ponies and their 3-4 scheme?

"I'm still interested in SMU. They were my first offer so that means a lot to me," he said. "I think I might visit soon just because it's so close. They haven't been recruiting me as hard, but I still communicate with Coach (Tom) Mason over email every now and then."

The three-star prospect has seen his offer list grow over the last month. Navy, New Mexico and New Mexico State recently joined Minnesota, North Texas, SMU and Tulsa as schools that have extended scholarships.

But two are standing out amongst the pack.

"I really want to play for a BCS school, but we'll see. I'm really looking for a good education. That's No. 1. Being close to home would be great too," Villalobos said. "So New Mexico and Tulsa really stand out because they are really recruiting me hard and have those factors."

Villalobos will visit Tulsa next weekend. He plans on making his decision after his senior season.



Jackson Talks SMU Offer

By Omar Majzoub

2017 point guard Jermaine Jackson Jr. has already started to pick up offers from programs across the country. After receiving one from Detroit and Eastern Michigan, Jackson picked up his third college offer from SMU.

"It was great, " he said. "It was about two or three weeks ago. I know if I keep working hard I will get another offer."

Jackson will attend Mt. Clemens High School (MI) where his dad, former NBA player Jermiane Jackson Sr., is the coach. He is only 5-foot-5, 135 pounds, but averaged 25 points per game last season with his AAU team, the Michigan Hurricanes.

Jackson has been in contact with multiple schools like Louisville, Michigan, Toledo and more. He says he likes what SMU has to offer but believes it's still too early in the process to focus on his recruiting.

"My dad just mostly handles all the recruiting," he said. "I don't stay in contact with the SMU coaching staff too often, but anytime I get a chance I will. I haven't got a chance to visit yet, but Ill do that at some point."

Jackson recently watched the Mustangs pick up a commitment from five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and believes it will be a major boost for the program.

"Oh yeah, I was really shocked because I had heard about Kentucky and a lot of other schools," he said. "But I know Larry Brown is a really good coach and I know Emmanuel Mudiay is going to go to the NBA."

Jackson believes the Mustangs are on their way to being one of the best programs in the entire country. He says he is excited to see what happens to them in the next couple years.

"It's a rising school," he said. "By the time 2017 comes, they will be in the top-10 or something like that. I know Coach Larry Brown coached in the NBA and that's where I want to be."

Jackson says going to the NBA is his ultimate goal, but it doesn't stop there. He will also be looking for a college program that has a chance to compete for championships his freshman year.

"I want to win a national championship," he said. "That's my goal. That and I want to be drafted with the first overall pick, like every other kid. I want to go to the right program that can do that for me."

Jackson is electric with the ball in his hands and one of the quickest players in the country. He is able to score in multiple ways, but he likes distributing and creating for others more.

"I make other players better," he said. "I know I can score at anytime and assist at anytime, but making my other teammates better is really what I look for and that's what I'm good at."

For now, Jackson is focused on winning a national championship with his father at Mt. Clemens. If he is able to have big first year of high school, Jackson will quickly become one of the most talked about young players in the country.



Coleman On McGriff

By Omar Majzoub

2016 power forward Cameron McGriff officially picked up an offer from the SMU Mustangs on Monday. The 6-foot-6, 190-pounder from South Grand Prairie averaged six points, five rebounds, and a block last season, and his coach believes he will continue to develop his game nicely.

"Cameron's a wing-four. Actually, he's a four transitioning to the wing," said Dallas Defenders coach Darius Coleman. "He's developing a good skill set of being able to drive to the basket, shoot the three ball, and hit the pull up jumper."

Coleman believes McGriff is one of the most dynamic players in the country at his age. He says programs across the country will start to notice McGriff more and it could lead to a lot of offers.

"A lot of schools haven't offered just because they are waiting to see what's going on with 2014," he said. "But there are definitely a lot of schools that have shown interest and have verbally told me they are really interested in recruiting him, so I look for the offers to pick up between now and the summer."

Coleman insisted it's still too early to start picking favorites, but believes his player knows exactly what type of program he is looking for. McGriff's top priority will be finding the right coach.

"It will probably be more of a good coach who can elevate his game, as well as a good program that is pretty family orientated because he comes from a good family background," he said. "Those two, as well as an academically sound school are the most important things for him. I think SMU definitely fits that bill."

Although he isn't too familiar with the program, Coleman says SMU could be a perfect fit for McGriff. By 2016, the Mustangs could have one of the best programs in the country if they continue on their current path.

"I have never sent a player to SMU, but I have talked to Coach (Larry) Brown and those guys," he said. "It is what it is with him. He is a real genius when it comes to basketball. He has won at every level and he's now just enjoying the game and doing it for the kids."

Brown and his staff have been very aggressive with the younger prospects and started recruiting McGriff when he was in eighth grade. Although their focus is on 2014 for now, SMU could make McGriff their top priority for 2016.



Jackson Recaps SMU Visit

By Scott Sanford

2014 Texas High wide receiver Taylor Jackson took an unofficial visit to SMU last weekend and attended the Montana State game.

Jackson, who has yet to be offered by the Mustangs, enjoyed his experience on campus more so this time around than his last visit to the Hilltop.

"It (the game) was really fun," explained Jackson. "It was a lot more intense this time around because the game came down to the wire. It was a great game."

Jackson, who is teammates with current SMU commit Anthony Rhone, didn't receive a ton of interest from the Mustangs until Rhone officially committed.

"Once Rhone committed they started talking to me, emailing me more," said Jackson. "I got a chance to talk to Coach Bert Hill at the Montana State game so that was cool."

Jackson has also talked with wide receiver coach Jason Phillips, who got a chance to see Jackson on the field during SMU's summer camp in July.

Although the Mustangs have yet to offer the 6-foot-2 wide out, Jackson is still interested in SMU and would love the opportunity to play with Rhone at the next level.

"We would love the chance to play together at the next level," he said. "Rhone and I talk about it almost every day."

Although Jackson wants the opportunity to play with Rhone at the next level, he admits that because SMU has not offered him yet, his level of interest is only "medium."

Besides SMU, Jackson has received interest from UTSA, Missouri and Arkansas, and has yet to receive any official offers, but hopes by the middle of the season someone will pull the trigger.

"As of now, my top two are SMU and UTSA, so I'm hoping by the time district roles around I could have an offer or two," Jackson said.

Although no official dates have been set, Jackson said he and Anthony Rhone plan on taking their official visits to SMU sometime during the season.



Hines Enjoys Visit

By Adam Grosbard

2017 Episcopal School of Dallas outside linebacker Anthony Hines attended SMU's game against Montana State last week and enjoyed his visit.

"It was a good game all throughout," Hines said. "I was actually sitting on the home side in the southwest corner. It was nice. It was very good energy. I've actually played there twice so I'm used to it. I can really imagine myself there."

Hines, listed as 6-foot-1 and 191-pounds, took the opportunity at the game to talk to a number of SMU's staff, including defensive coordinator Tom Mason and linebackers coach Eric Daniels.

"They were just asking how my season was going and what I thought of their facilities," Hines said. "I've been there three times and every time all the coaches have talked to me.

"About a month and a half ago, I had already visited there so I was just there to watch the game, but the facilities are beautiful. I love it. They had a really nice meeting room with very nice red leather chairs that were great."

Hines did not hesitate to list his reasons for being interested in SMU.

"I've always liked SMU ever since I played there," Hines said. "The stadium is beautiful, the campus is beautiful and it's not too far from home either so that helps. It's maybe twenty minutes from house so that's one of the biggest aspects for me so my parents can make all the games."

While it is early in Hines's recruiting process, he has received sound advice thus far.

"My dad just tells me to take time, don't let it overtake me because I still have to play the season," Hines said. "So just don't let it overwhelm me."

Hines holds offers from Mississippi State, Montana, and Akron. He also has received strong interest from TCU, Baylor, Iowa, LSU, Nebraska, Cincinnati, and UCLA.



McCathern Still Waiting To Hear From Staff

By Scott Sanford

With schools slowly getting closer and closer to filling their 2014 recruiting classes, more players are starting to experience what a ‘slow play' really feels like.

2014 safety Khalil McCathern is unfortunately stuck in that position.

SMU, Texas State and Texas Tech are the only schools that have offered McCathern at this point, but McCathern admits he's not even sure if he still has an offer from Tech.

"I think they (Tech) backed out on their offer, but I'm not really sure at this point," he said. " I haven't had a lot of contact with them in recent weeks."

As for SMU, McCathern was informed by his coaches that he had been offered over the summer by the Mustangs, but he has yet to hear from the SMU staff and doesn't know exactly where he stands.

McCathern hasn't had the chance to visit SMU but hopes that the Mustangs' interest in him will pick up so he can take an official visit to The Hilltop.

"I took an unofficial visit to Texas State and I liked it a lot," said McCathern. "I plan on taking an official visit to Texas State at some point and hopefully I can take a trip to SMU also."

The senior admits he hasn't done much homework on the schools that are talking to him, but he knows SMU has a good reputation and that is enough for him to be interested.

McCathern, who is one of just a few seniors on the Smithville football team, has been disappointed with the recruiting process, but is not letting that affect his play on the field.

"Things have been pretty slow for me so far," he said. "I'm just focused on trying to be a leader for the younger guys on the team right now."



Mason No Longer An Option

By Adam Grosbard

Three-star 2014 point guard Nate Mason was interested in SMU, but the recent commitment of fellow point guard Emmanuel Mudiay changed everything.

"I guess you could say the Mudiay signing took me off the table," he said. "I think he's going to do well there. I mean, Mudiay is a good player. He'd have done well no matter where he went." Mason, listed at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, is now turning his attention elsewhere, with no clear front-runners in the race for his talents.

"I'm not leaning anywhere right now," Mason said. "But I'm going on an official visit to Kansas State. I leave tomorrow and I'll get there Friday. Memphis is going to come down and see me next week and I'll probably take an official visit there. I like Virginia too, and Marquette. Pitt is supposed to be coming down, Butler and Texas A&M too."

Mason has also been recruited by Virginia, Texas, Harvard, and Murray State, among others. He expects to make his decision after doing all his research, but he says anything could happen.

"It's hard to say when I'll make my decision," Mason said. "Everyone says they want to take those five visits but who knows if that's going to happen because I'm just really waiting for the right school."



A Look At How Some SMU Commits Did…

- Houston Lamar QB Darrell Colbert went 5-of-13 for 115 yards. He also rushed for 19 yards in a 23-10 win over Beaumont West Brook.

- Austin Westlake QB Jordan Severt was 15-of-28 for 226 yards. He also rushed for 59 yards and scored four total touchdowns in a 38-32 win over A&M Consolidated.

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