Recruiting Roundtable: 5 Key Questions

The Pony Stampede staff answers five key questions about SMU's 2014 class

1. Who is the most important signee in this class?

Holland: Well, the obvious answer is Daniel Gresham. I always try to be a little bit different, but there is no denying that Gresham is an extraordinary talent and a gift to June Jones from the tiki gods. Gresham held offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State and was once committed to Texas and Louisville. I haven't seen an offer list like that for an SMU prospect since Adrian Klemm was the recruiting coordinator. With Traylon Shead bolting, Gresham should be the starter from Day 1.

Embody: Kadeem Goulbourne. With Keenan Holman graduating, Der'rikk Thompson still being questionable as to whether he can produce at a high level and JaBryce Taylor still developing, Goulbourne was the big, physical weapon the offense needed. Goulbourne has a chance to make an immediate impact right away with his skill set. He still needs to polish his route running, but so did Taylor coming into SMU. Goulbourne committed to SMU over multiple big-time offers and made it known that even recruits from Florida should be checking SMU out and coming to the Hilltop for its great education and pass-heavy offense.

Mickles: Daniel Gresham is the highest rated prospect and the only one holding offers from some of the top programs in the nation i.e. Alabama and Florida State. Before Gresham's commitment, the running back position for SMU was suspect being that neither Prescott Line nor K.C. Nlemchi proved they could be consistent, every-down performers. Even with the four-star commit choosing SMU, it won't stop the offense from being pass heavy, but a good running game should take some of the pressure off of inexperienced quarterback Neal Burcham.

Majzoub: I'll go with three-star quarterback Darrell Colbert of Houston Lamar for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the quarterback position will always be the most vital spot under June Jones. He has built his name on running an offense where quarterbacks can put up big numbers, and I think Colbert has a great chance to continue that tradition. I also think the Colbert signing was huge because it helped SMU land guys like Shelby Walker, Braylon Hyder and Kyran Mitchell from Houston Lamar. These guys make up a big chunk of SMU's class. Walker is one of the best receivers in the class and wanted to keep playing with his high school quarterback, while Hyder and Mitchell decided soon after to join their teammates. I don't think Colbert will start right away because Neal Burcham deserves his fair shot, but I eventually think the 5-foot-10, 165-pound signal caller will have a big impact on the Hilltop.

Sanford: No thanks to the SMU coaching staff, the Ponies landed the No. 1 ranked fullback in the Class of 2014. Daniel Gresham, who is 5-foot-11, 230-pounds, runs a lot like former SMU running back Zach Line. With an inexperienced Neal Burcham taking over the reigns of the offense, production from the running back position will be critical so defenses are not able to key entirely on the passing game. When Gresham arrives on the Hilltop, he will immediately become the Mustangs' most talented runner and will most likely see a significant amount of playing time as a freshman.

Grosbard: That would have to Daniel Gresham. After losing Traylon Shead to the draft and seeing that Prescott Line cannot live up to his family name, SMU desperately needed a running back to pair with K.C. Nlemchi. Gresham is that and more and could be the next great SMU running back. He is the Mustangs' first four-star commit since 2012 and is a huge steal for the coaching staff considering the 5-foot-10, 236-pound power-back held offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Ohio State, Miami and Texas. If Gresham can be a big-name DFW recruit who excels at SMU, he will help the Mustangs in future recruiting in their home turf.

2. Who is the most underrated signee in the class?

Holland: Ok, so this is a little bit of a reach since J.R. Reed will technically count for 2015, and he is one of the very few three-stars in this class. But he only had offers from Akron and UNLV. I think he was definitely deserving of more. I saw this kid play as a junior against Dallas Roosevelt and came on the forums and said SMU should offer this kid now. Well, they did eventually and if he can bounce back from his torn ACL, watch out. He's a great playmaker in the secondary.

Embody: Jordan Severt. I'm a huge Jordan Severt fan, and I believe he can develop into a solid quarterback for SMU once he picks up the offense. Severt can make pretty much all the throws on the field and has the size already to be ready to go. Severt reminds me a lot of former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray because of his solid footwork and his mechanics, but he isn't as good of an athlete as Murray. Severt comes from a program known for producing quarterbacks and with his combination of size and solid mechanics and footwork, I'm surprised more programs didn't offer him. SMU could have a good one in Severt, and that will likely lead to Colbert switching positions.

Mickles: In my video I compared William Jeanlys to the Honey Badger, and that might be a bit lofty but if it wasn't for the ACL injury, I think he would have obtained some big time offers. Jeanlys has terrific upside with his aggressive style of play, speed and ability to go and get the football. I think Jeanlys could also be a valuable asset to SMU on special teams where they were subpar last year at best.

Majzoub: I really like William Jeanlys from Pope John Paul II (FL). The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder can play both sides of the ball but tore his ACL before his senior year and didn't get to play a down. This caused many schools to reconsider their interest, but SMU never did. Jeanlys has good size and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash before his injury. He was mostly being recruited as a wide receiver as well as a kick and punt return specialist, but SMU is expected to use him at defensive back. In his junior year, Jeanlys was named to the all-county team and was one of the top-14 players to watch for in Palm Beach County. I think Jeanlys will be a big-time playmaker for SMU when he is back to 100 percent.

Sanford: At 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, Michael Epley is a little smaller then current SMU defensive end Beau Barnes, but has a similar style of play. He plays with good leverage and does not take plays off. On film, Epley showed his ability to beat tackles off the edge with his speed and also showed that he can use his speed to beat the tackles across their face and get into the backfield. He's got solid speed for his size, but Epley could definitely use some work on his athleticism. Epley is headed into a good environment where he can learn personally from Barnes and step in for him once he graduates.

Grosbard: That might end up being Darius Durall. The Houston Lamar running back is small (5-foot-9, 180-pounds) but is really fast. He ran a 4.46 second 40-yard dash as a senior and uses his speed to evade tacklers both out of the backfield and running routes. He is perfect for screen plays and makes quick cuts in the open field that can make defenders look foolish. While he won't contribute right away for SMU, he could develop into something special.

3. Who is the most overrated signee in the class?

Holland: I hate to say this because he's been a great kid to talk to during the process, but I'm going with Shelby Walker. I saw him play a couple of times live for Houston Lamar and saw him matched up against some of the best defensive backs in the state at the Nike Football Training Camp in the spring, and each time he failed to impress me. Walker has elite speed but runs poor routes and doesn't have the best hands. He also has a very lanky frame, and struggled when matched up against more physical corners.

Embody: Darrell Colbert. While I love Colbert's competitiveness and his ability to extend plays a little bit, he is undersized and doesn't do a great job of extending plays for being a dual-threat. Colbert can get a little antsy in the pocket, and he had some solid weapons around him at Houston Lamar. Colbert has a good delivery, but sometimes holds the ball too long. He's overrated at quarterback but could develop into a nice slot receiver. Colbert's work ethic is one of his strengths though so with a lot of work, he may develop and have the opportunity to beat out Severt, but I feel like Colbert is destined to be a receiver.

Mickles: Jordan Wyatt can grow into a solid player, but there wasn't anything particularly special that jumped out to me on tape. His tackling needs work first and foremost. His fundamentals aren't where they need to be in terms of taking correct angles to the ball carrier, using leverage and staying in form. Wyatt does make a good break on the ball and his hands are good but not excellent. Wyatt will need to work hard in his first couple of years on the Hilltop in order to earn his spot on the defense. With SMU having some talented DB's on the way, Wyatt will have to really stand out. We will see where he stands this summer.

Majzoub: Wide receiver Shelby Walker from Houston Lamar. SMU coaches hope Walker can stretch the field with his speed and continue to play well with high school quarterback Darrell Colbert. But Walker was somewhat of a let down his senior year at Lamar. He finished second on the team with 23 receptions for 401 yards and three touchdowns, which were a major downgrade from his junior season. Walker also believes he has a chance to be the No.2 receiver his freshman year on the Hilltop, but I don't see that happening. He doesn't have great size and relies too much on his speed to get open. There are plenty of talented receivers in this class, so I don't think Walker will be the best one.

Sanford: I do think South Houston running back Darius Durall could be an effective change-of pace-runner for SMU, but his style of running will require a major improvement of play by the offensive linemen. With the group of guys that are already in the program, and with the group of guys signing now, I don't see that improvement coming anytime soon. Durall is the type of back that can catch passes out of the backfield effectively and bust a few big runs outside because of his speed, but you won't see him put his head down and run in between the tackles very often. Durall and Daniel Gresham could compliment each other well, but Durall won't be an every-down back for the Mustangs.

Grosbard: This dubious honor might end up going to Darrell Colbert, the three-star quarterback out of Houston Lamar. While he is hailed as a dual-threat quarterback, Colbert is not big (6-foot, 175-pounds) or strong. This makes me skeptical that he will be able to take the beating that dual-threat quarterbacks necessarily and inevitable take at the college level. Unless he can change his game, Colbert may not live up to his billing.

4. Who is the prospect SMU will most regret missing out on?

Holland: Cedar Hill defensive end Xavier Washington is a guy I've talked about all year, but I'm going to say Pierce County (GA) quarterback Tyler Harris. He was committed to SMU but flipped to UCF. SMU didn't miss out on him, per se, but the staff failed to hold on to him. And he's such a huge loss. I really thought Harris was going to finally be that quarterback who could come to SMU and run the Run N' Shoot offense to perfection. Now, SMU is going to have to face him when he suits up for UCF.

Embody: Cedric Johnson. SMU needed a nose tackle in this class, and Johnson could have been a solid fit here. Instead, the staff never fully pursued Johnson the way it should have, and SMU lost out on a solid nose tackle. Johnson's ability to read and react to plays would have been a welcome addition to the middle of the SMU defense. Johnson instead committed to Louisiana Tech. Johnson wasn't explosive, but he shoots gaps well, a key attribute when playing nose tackle. SMU lost out on a recruit that had interest and would have filled a key spot at a position with little depth.

Mickles: I think Xavier Washington could have made a great impact at SMU and increased the competition at the position. Instead, SMU will only bring in one two-star defensive end whose only other offer is Rice. Washington was as productive and as disruptive as any defensive player in the area, and SMU never sent him an offer. I think he will turn out to be a very hard worker and eventual stalwart at Northwestern.

Majzoub: I say it will end up being wide receiver Ian Sadler from Argyle. Sadler is listed at just 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, but rated as a four-star prospect. He is a tough, competitive receiver who runs great routes and finds ways to get open. Sadler held offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, and UNT before choosing to commit to Texas Tech. He came for a visit at SMU but never received an offer. Although he isn't a great downfield threat, I think Sadler would have been great in the slot at SMU. He seems to always find the soft spot in the defense and would have been a great addition to the Run N' Shoot offense. He was also a great return man and scored 200 points for his team as a junior in 2012. SMU landed plenty of other talented receivers, but I think they really missed out on a playmaker in Sadler.

Sanford: SMU will be kicking themselves once they see the type of production Xavier Washington will bring at Northwestern. Washington has flown under the radar of most major programs, which is head-scratching considering the Cedar Hill defensive end had 106 total tackles, 47 Tackles for loss (that is not a typo), and 23 sacks (that is also not a typo) in just his senior campaign. Washington is explosive off the line of scrimmage and plays with great leverage and a great motor. Considering his proximity to SMU, I'm baffled as to why SMU did not extend an offer his way. Especially considering the Mustangs' need for depth on the defensive line.

Grosbard: No doubt in my mind that it is four-star quarterback Tyler Harris. Harris is a traditional pocket passer with a strong build who could have started right away for SMU. That he chose to commit to SMU despite holding an offer from Alabama was remarkable. But in November, Harris decommitted from the Mustangs, leaving a huge hole in the recruiting class. To make matters worse, Harris immediately committed to conference rival Central Florida, so this is a recruit who will come back to haunt the Mustangs for years to come.

5. How would you grade the SMU staff's efforts this year?

Holland: Well, you can see my coach-by-coach grades in the other story, but overall this group pretty much deserves a low grade. And it all starts with the guy at the top. How the heck are you going to spend one of the most important recruiting weekends vacationing in Hawaii with no repercussions? There is no accountability, and this staff continues to do what they do. I guess it's something we should be used to by now. But reporting on it continues to be frustrating and tiresome. I think Eric Daniels was a bright spot, but he didn't have a big enough role to have a big impact. When it came to the rest of the staff, it was more of the same, and that's simply not good enough. They're lucky a few guys dropped in their lap late, if not, this would have been -- and it still might be-- the worst class in the June Jones era.

Embody: SMU started off well last spring when the staff began offering most of these players, and the staff was getting out there and seeing plenty of players, but the consistency of contact with a fair amount of these recruits doomed some of SMU's chances on some of the players the staff offered. Eric Daniels probably did the best job and so did Derrick Odum, aside from Alex Ogle late in the game. I'll give them a C for this class, mainly because of the staff failing to get on the nose tackle prospects out there.

Mickles: Another poor performance by the SMU coaching staff. They could not keep Tyler Harris nor Nate Gaines on the hook, there were a slew of recruits in the Dallas- area that should have received offers but did not and way too many recruits said that they had little to no relationships with the SMU coaching staff even though they held offers. SMU seems to be insecure about themselves in the sense that they don't believe they have what it takes to attract good players so they settle for lower rated ones. It takes hours of reaching out, traveling, visiting, going to practices etc. in order for a program to have a class they are proud of and the Mustangs just aren't willing to do that regardless of what the fans say or think.

Majzoub: I would give them a C. The staff landed a few playmakers on offense in Daniel Gresham, Darrell Colbert and a slew of receivers. They also did a nice job landing guys like J.R. Reed and William Jeanlys who were undervalued due to major injuries they suffered. However, the staff lost the commitment of Tyler Harris and wasn't able to land any prospects rated higher than three-stars. Their highest rated player, Gresham, will help them on offense, but the team has serious holes on the offensive line and on defense that were not filled. The only pass rusher they landed was Michael Epley from Leander, and they were supposed to have a real emphasis on finding pass rushers in this class. To me, a C is a mediocre grade and there's no better word to describe this recruiting class.

Sanford: D+. It has been clear to all of us that while some of June Jones' assistants have done a decent job recruiting this year, as a whole, the staff was subpar. If it weren't for the late additions of Daniel Gresham, Inoke Ngalo, J.R. Reed and Anthony Wilkinson, I would have given the staff an F. With Jones not doing any recruiting himself, it's clear this entire staff does not put as much emphasis on recruiting as they should. If SMU wants to gain any respect on the football field, they will need to start investing more time in recruiting.

Grosbard: Someone must have put the fear of God into the SMU coaching staff after the season ended because they picked up a lot of slack at the end of this process to make the class more acceptable. But the strange story of Lance Cottrell nicely sums up the staff's inability to follow up with this class as a whole. Cottrell decommitted from the Mustangs two weeks ago because he could not get in touch with Tom Mason, his chief recruiter. Cottrell chose to pay out-of-state tuition at either Arizona State or Oklahoma State rather than accept a free education at SMU because he was so frustrated with the SMU coaching staff, at least according to him. Nate Gaines apparently had a similar story. That tells you just about everything you need to know about this coaching staff's recruiting efforts.

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