The Hilltop Review

Each week the staff brings you the latest news in SMU's world of recruiting. Check it out!

Small Wanting SMU Offer

By Patrick Engel and Adam Grosbard

SMU has not had a fast, athletic, and playmaking cornerback for some time. However, the Mustangs can change that if they land Niko Small (Arlington, TX/Bowie), a junior cornerback who can run a 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.

At the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, there were a number of prospects that SMU has showed some interest in in the past.

Derrick Odum, SMU's secondary coach, has kept in contact with Small since he first reached out to him in the spring of 2013. Small visited during the 2013 season and was impressed with the program.

"I visited, it was a while back, during the fall," Small said. "It was really nice; it was a fun-loving place. Everything that I remember left a good impression on me."

Small added that he liked the coaches' style, especially how they work with defensive backs. He also said that the coaches have not talked with him about an offer yet, but he is hoping for one and he can see himself playing at SMU.

"It's a really nice school, the actual school part is really nice and I like it," Small said. "I haven't talked to them since the last time I visited which must have been last fall."

Small would be an asset to the Mustangs' defense. His versatility and ability to play both corner and safety are usually characteristics that the SMU staff loves. He is physical with receivers at the line and did not allow many completions during one-on-one drills. The attitude he showed after breaking up a pass, one can tell that he has a chip on his shoulder that players need to be successful in college.

"I like to get up personal on defense. I like to study where their alignments are so I can jump routes easier," Small said. "I like to play the ball in the air instead of just staying on the receivers."

Small has offers from Southern Mississippi, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech, and Texas State. Oklahoma State, TCU, Oklahoma, and Kansas State are also talking with him. He says that two schools stick out a little more from the rest.

I'd probably have to say Oklahoma State and NIU," Small stated when asked about his favorites. "They've shown the most love to me. They've been really persistent on talking to me, getting to know me, getting to know my family, things like that."

One of the SMU coaches' biggest mistakes is that they don't talk to players enough. If SMU wants to compete for Small, the coaches will need to make a better effort to talk to him and establish a relationship with him.

For his on-field demeanor, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Small is very soft-spoken off the field and wanted to focus on the only negative of his day at camp rather than settle for what he did well.

"I could have done better in my (40-yard dash) but it was a lot of fun. Lots of good people," Small said of the camp.

On the field last season, Small said he was happy with his performance and accomplished all the goals he set for himself. His team went 7-4, and he said that he wants to see that improve.

"As a team, we could have done better, we should have done better. It's all a work in progress because we are kind of a young team, so we are going to grow this year; we've been doing a lot of hard work."

Three-Star Defensive Lineman Talks SMU Offer

By Adam Grosbard

SMU loves recruits who can play multiple positions, so it is no surprise the Mustangs have offered three-star defensive lineman Sam Tecklenburg from Plano.

Luckily for SMU, the interest is mutual.

"I'm pretty interested. I went out in the morning to a practice this week to watch them. Coach (Bert) Hill is talking to me more often so I'm pretty interested," Tecklenburg said. "About once a week I'll hear from him, whether it's a letter or email.

"I like how practice was run. I think it's cool that they're close. I mean, that's not that important to me but they're just 15 minutes south on 75. I definitely think they're a big time program. Some people say it isn't because of their conference but it's still pretty good. I think they're a storied program and it'd be a cool place to learn."

Standing at 6-foot-3 and 270-pounds, Tecklenburg is college-ready and could fit anywhere on the Mustangs' defensive line.

"I think they're recruiting me at tackle but if I slim down a little bit I would be similar to some of their ends physically. I don't care where I play," Tecklenburg said.

On the field, the junior shows enough quickness to get past offensive linemen and plug running gaps. He is also strong enough to create an edge as an offensive tackle in the run game.

After the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, Tecklenburg thought he was getting better but still had room to improve.

"I think I did okay. Just glad to come out. I could have done better in one-on-ones but my times improved," Tecklenburg said. "Some things were either the same or improved from last year at the Nike Combine so that was good."

Tecklenburg also holds offers from Tulsa, Arkansas State, Nevada, UConn, North Texas, and Texas Tech.

Interest from SMU Mutual for McWhorter

By Patrick Engel

SMU seldom recruits players from the Graham, Texas area, but Mustangs assistant coach Bert Hill has been talking to defensive tackle Dustin McWhorter (Graham, TX/Graham) for a couple of months, and McWhorter has reciprocated the interest.

"It's a really nice school, they have good academics, and it would definitely be somewhere I'd like to go," McWhorter said of SMU. "The coaches are really cool, and I really like (them)."

McWhorter visited SMU's junior day in February, and said that he really enjoyed the time he spent on the Hilltop.

"I did go to their junior day, and I'll visit campus at the camps I will go to there. (The visit) did bring SMU up a little higher, but just learning about the way the school is, the campus, the workout program, and how they do everything just seems really nice, and it definitely caught my attention."

He said he also plans to visit SMU during the summer for a one-day camp. McWhorter and Coach Hill have stayed in touch since the junior day, talking periodically.

"I'll call him and we'll just chat a little bit, see how things are going, and just catch up a little bit.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder has an offer from Colorado State. North Texas, Texas State, UT-San Antonio, and Boston College are also pursuing him.

McWhorter does not have a favorite, but one school is talking to him a bit more than the rest. SMU will need to step up its efforts to land McWhorter if it wants to compete with Boston College, which speaks with the Graham native on a regular basis.

"I'm basically an open book," he said. "I talk to Boston College a lot, basically every week. I visited and got to stay the night with some of the guys up there. They were awesome, they loved me, and it was a really good experience."

He also said that he will make a decision right before signing day next February.

This past season, Graham went 14-1, and McWhorter was instrumental to the Steers' success. During his three-year tenure on the Varsity team, he has racked up 132 total tackles, including 121 solo, along with 5 total sacks and an interception.

SMU Keeping Tabs on Williams

By Patrick Engel

SMU is closely watching a number of Class of 2015 running backs, and one of them is Bishop Lynch's Rawleigh Williams. Williams, who has committed to Ole Miss, is still getting significant interest from a number of schools, including SMU.

Ole Miss was Williams' first offer, and he committed in April 2013.

"It was kind of a big deal for me (to get the offer) because they were my first offer, they're in the SEC," Williams said. "Then, I didn't think too much into it, but once I visited, I just fell in love with everything about it, from the coaches to the players to the environment, so I'm pretty happy with that."

SMU is not currently talking with Williams, but the Mustangs coaches frequently talk to Williams's coaches about his interest in them. They send Williams a lot of letters and invited him to the spring game.

Despite not currently talking to coaches, Williams is impressed with SMU.

"It's close to home, so I like that," he said. "It's also a great school. I really want to be an engineer, and I know they have a pretty good engineering program. Academically it's top-notch."

While Williams has stuck by his commitment, Ole Miss is still his only offer. But he expects to get several more soon.

"The schools that will offer me in the spring, I'll definitely look into them," he said when asked about his interest in other programs. "I'm happy with my commitment, but I want to be 100 percent about my decision. I want to make the best decision for me and my family."

SMU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Boise State, Mississippi State and Arkansas are a few of the schools that could offer the 5-foot-10, 198-pounder soon. He says that he has a great relationship with Arkansas.

"Coach (Josh) Thomas from Arkansas, we talk all the time, and I think (Arkansas) is coming up this spring."

Williams's Bishop Lynch team went 3-8-1 in 2013 under first-year head coach Ben Dasch. Overall, he described the season as "rough," but was optimistic about 2014.

"I had a lot of injuries, but I still had over 1,000 yards of offense. It's not what we wanted at all, but I think it's going to be amazing season; we love our coach and we love our players coming back this year, so I think we are going to be special."

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