2014 Class: Defensive Breakdown

We break down the defensive players in SMU's 2014 class!

Defensive MVP

ILB Inoke Ngalo, Euless Trinity - Linebacker Inoke Ngalo was one of SMU's later commits, but also one of their most talented. At 5-foot-11, 205-pounds, Ngalo is a little undersized at his position but makes up for it with his toughness and motor. He has a nose for the football and could make a big impact playing under defensive coordinator Tom Mason. Ngalo has drawn comparisons to former SMU linebacker Taylor Reed because of his size and ability to produce. Last season, Ngalo made 137 tackles and led his team to the state quarterfinals. He was originally committed to Houston, but flipped to SMU after his visit his past weekend. Eventually, I think Ngalo has a chance to be the best player on SMU's defense.

Runner Up

DB J.R. Reed, Prestonwood Christian- Due to an ACL injury, cornerback J.R. Reed won't play at SMU until next spring. But, I think he has a chance to be the most talented defensive back in this class. Reed is listed at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds and has experience playing wide receiver, cornerback, and safety. He is a very versatile athlete and has good size for his position. His father, Jake Reed, was a former NFL wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, which has helped him learn how to lock down opposing players. Reed does a great job of staying with receivers in the open field and being aggressive with them. Once he gets healthy after his greyshirt year, I think Reed could be a big time playmaker on the defensive side of the ball for the Mustangs.

Sleeper

DE Michael Epley, Leander- Michael Epley is a big, athletic defensive end that has shown he is effective against both the run and pass. He uses his speed and quickness to blow by offensive lineman during a pass rush and does a good job of controlling his area on the inside against the run. He isn't necessarily overpowering, but he does a great job using his hands to control blockers. Epley also plays with a great motor and can close on opposing running backs or quarterbacks with his speed. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder was rated as two-star prospect for SMU and I think people are sleeping on the type impact he could have on the Hilltop. Epley has a chance rack up a lot of sacks early on in his career and should help the SMU defense pressure opposing quarterbacks for the next few years.

What Were They Thinking

ILB Kyran Mitchell, Houston Lamar- The SMU coaching staff did a great job landing multiple talented players in the class of 2014 from Houston Lamar, but I didn't love the Mitchell signing. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Mitchell will need to bulk up a lot before attempting to play linebacker at SMU. He plays with good quickness and energy, especially when he is coming on a blitz, and has shown he can cover a lot of ground sideline to sideline. But Mitchell lacks the strength and hard-hitting ability that defensive coaches love. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mitchell change positions when he gets to SMU, so that also worries me a little too. With all the other linebackers SMU had already landed, I thought the decision to go after Mitchell was a questionable one for the Mustangs.

Grade: C

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