One of the top 4A teams in the state, Mesquite Poteet has raced out to a 5-0 record this season. The Pirates have dominated opponents week in and week out especially from a defensive standpoint.
A big reason for that is SMU commit Nathaniel Gaines, who has stepped up tremendously with fellow defensive back and Baylor commit Verkedric Vaughns out with an injury. In a 40-3 victory over Forney on Friday night, Gaines returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown and was part of a defense that forced five turnovers.
"It was a big win for us. Our defense played outstanding. We didn't want to give up the three points, but we played great as a defense," Gaines said. "We didn't play as well as we could have offensively, but this was a great win for us on homecoming, and it gives us momentum heading into next week."
A tall, rangy safety, Gaines did a tremendous job of reading the quarterback and jumping routes. But he isn't limited to just the defensive backfield. Gaines is very athletic and also returned punts and got a few snaps in at wide receiver.
SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason has spoken with Gaines about his versatility, and the possibility of him seeing time on both sides of the ball.
"Coach Mason has really been talking to me a lot more lately. He told me he wants me to redshirt my freshman year and then make an impact at free safety after that," Gaines said. "But he also said they might look at me as a receiver. I like the defensive side of the ball though. I want to add some weight, learn the defense and make the team better."
After watching SMU in action against Texas Tech, Gaines says he feels like he can be a great fit in Mason's system. Gaines plans on returning to the Hilltop for his official visit before the end of the month.
But while on campus, he wants to focus on academics rather than athletics.
"I like the location of it. I like how the staff is laid back. I really like the campus and the academics side of things. I'm really looking forward to seeing the whole university and the culture there," he said. "I want to get to know the school better since I've usually just been around the stadium. I want to major in criminal justice and business so I want learn more about that."
As of today, Gaines is still a ‘solid' commit to SMU, but that doesn't meant he won't listen if bigger schools come calling. Although he hasn't received a BCS offer yet, a few could be on the way.
"I'm starting to get a lot of interest from Oklahoma State. I think they could offer, and Texas Tech has one guy in front of me on their board so I might get an offer from there also," Gaines said. "Utah's coach called me, and it would be great to play in the Pac-12. Michigan State is starting to show some interest too so I'm going to keep my eyes open, but right now I'm with SMU."
While Gaines' recruitment continues to heat up, his primary goal is leading Mesquite Poteet to a win over Highland Park in a game that will likely determine the 10-4A district champion.
"They always come with their best. They always bring their A game, and that's what we have to do," Gaines said. "We're really focusing on finishing. We're not going to give up big plays. We're just going to bring it and win by two touchdowns."
Gaines Updates Recruitment
Pony Stampede Top Stories
Three Up Three Down: SMU vs. TCUPatrick picks three ups and three downs from SMU's 33-3 loss vs. TCU on Friday night at Ford Stadium.
Pony StampedeFriday at 9:00 PM
Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. TCUSMU lost to TCU 33-3 on Friday night at Ford Stadium to drop to 2-2 on the season.
Pony StampedeFriday at 2:29 PM
FREE Pony Stampede Hilltop Review: Sept. 23Come inside this free edition of the Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest on SMU commits and visitors from last week's win over Liberty.
Pony StampedeFriday at 6:00 AM
Commitment Impact: Everett RaySMU landed its second 2017 commitment Thursday with forward Everett Ray’s pledge. PonyStampede breaks down his decision.
Pony StampedeThursday at 6:00 AM
Elijah Landrum talks commitment to SMU2017 point guard Elijah Landrum talked with Pony Stampede about his decision to commit to SMU.