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Blackshear comes away impressed by SMU visit

By: Scott Sanford

Despite the brutal beat down SMU was handed last week versus Texas A&M, there were some positives to the Mustangs’ home opener at Ford Stadium.

SMU hosted a number of football and basketball recruits for official and unofficial visits, including Maynard Evans’ (Fla.) Kerry Blackshear Jr.

The four-star Orlando native was on the Hilltop Friday and Saturday for his official visit and spent most of his time touring the campus and getting to know the coach staff.

When Blackshear first arrived for his visit he got a chance to sit down with the coaching staff and talk about the game of basketball in general, before heading out on a tour of the campus, which he enjoyed.

“It was really nice. I really enjoyed the campus,” Blackshear said. “I liked the environment there; very free flowing. It felt like home so it was really good.”

Blackshear also got to spend a fair amount of time taking in the boulevard, which was an encouraging site for him to see.

“It was a pretty fun event. I just enjoyed seeing the school spirit around football, and seeing as it is a basketball school, it was great to see they (the students) came out to support,” Blackshear said. “It just goes to show how much they’ll support the basketball team so that’s good.”

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward also had a lot of time to speak with the coaching staff and get to know SMU as a basketball program.

One thing Blackshear appreciated about Larry Brown, besides his knowledge of the game, was his honesty.

“He told me it’s my decision to make,” Blackshear said. “He wanted to be clear that they were all great schools that I’m considering and this opportunity would change my life, and that SMU was a great opportunity for me, both basketball-wise and academically and life beyond my college years, so it was great.”

Blackshear still has a few more visits to take, but he did say SMU is now “pretty high” on his list and his visit, overall, was “very insightful”.

The rising senior’s next visit is to Virginia Tech this weekend, and also plans on setting up a few more visits before making his final decision in early November.

2016 Waco DB takes in SMU vs. Texas A&M

By: Patrick Engel

SMU football’s home opener on Sept. 20 attracted many high school recruits, both football and basketball players. A couple new faces were on campus, and one of them was 2016 Waco (Tex.) Midway cornerback Cairo Attaway.

“Overall, it was a great visit,” Attaway said. “The campus is beautiful. I saw the Doak Walker statue and the three horses statue. The recruit section was nice too, I met some really cool people there.”

Attaway’s dad and younger brother accompanied him to the game. Attaway’s dad is a big Aggie fan, and Attaway said he was happy his dad could watch his favorite team for free.

Despite SMU’s subpar performance in the game and the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff, Attaway is still intrigued by the program and the school.

“I think it’s a fine program. I know they’re going through a transition period right now with the interim head coach, but I think everything will work itself out. The university has great academics too.”

Attaway enjoyed his visit enough to want to come back multiple times this season. He says he will for sure be at the homecoming game on Nov. 15, and hopes to visit at least once more before then. SMU interim head coach Tom Mason told Attaway he could come to as many games as he wants.

Secondary coach Derrick Odum has been Attaway’s primary contact. Attaway says they started talking during the spring. Attaway does not have an SMU offer, but Odum said he or another coach would be coming to watch him play.

SMU has a Midway connection of its own. Safety Shakiel Randolph is a Midway alum, and Attaway said he enjoyed talking to him during the pregame recruiting function.

Attaway does not have any offers, but says that SMU, UTSA, Arkansas, North Texas, Oklahoma State and Missouri have all shown interest. He expects that UTSA, and possibly SMU, will offer by the end of the fall.

Attaway is 5-foot-10 and weighs 170 pounds. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash.

2016 OL says Mason is refocusing on North Texas

By: Billy Embody

Interim coach Tom Mason has said it many times since taking the reigns of the SMU football team, he and his staff are going to recruit DFW and not leave Texas.

Mason is sharing his vision with recruits like Godley HS (Tex.) offensive lineman Blake Hickey even if his future on the Hilltop is yet to be decided.

“He (Mason) said that he (June Jones) was recruiting, but he was not recruiting that he needed be,” Hickey said. “He (Mason) said basically the goal of mine is to get the top recruits in North Texas and they’re really going to start hitting that hard. Coach Mason felt like this was the spot to get the top recruits in the nation.”

Mason’s new approach is to try to get into the DFW recruiting hot bed and make an impression on local coaches by the time comes for the SMU administration decides on a new coach.

Hickey had camped at SMU and thought all was well with Jones at the helm, but apparently not.

“I was a little bit surprised that he would do that the second game of the season. I went up there for the camp I thought he was doing pretty good as head coach,” Hickey said. “Apparently, he wasn’t recruiting very well that’s what coach Mason said. I thought he was doing a little better than that.”

Hickey elaborated on Mason’s pregame talk in the film room with the recruits in attendance.

“He said they didn’t hit that hard enough so he was going to try and turn that around and hit that harder,” Hickey said. “He basically came in there in told us that if you were in North Texas that they were going to start recruiting you harder.”

The 6-4, 265 pound junior shared his thoughts on the visit to SMU even with the Mustangs getting beat up on by Texas A&M.

“A&M is one of the top teams in the country. It’s pretty tough to compete with them,” Hickey said. “Other than that, I feel like SMU is a good school and coach Mason is going to go out there and turn it around. I think he’s going to win a conference championship.”

Hickey was very impressed with the facilities on the Hilltop and so did his parents.

“We went down in their locker room and went down in their film room. That was very nice,” Hickey said. “I really like their stadium and the way it’s set up. I saw where the athletes eat and that was very nice.”

Hickey has also tripped to Oklahoma State for a game against Missouri State and will visit Texas next week. Nebraska, Missouri, Duke and Texas Tech have also showed interest.

Mason left Hickey and the rest of the recruits with one final thought before taking the field.

“Academically SMU is the best place to be because football is great, but eventually it’s going to end and you’re going to need a degree. SMU is the best place to pursue your education.”

Hickey doesn’t hold any offers at this time.

St. Ben’s coach has a pair of SMU 2017 prospects

By: Patrick Engel

Larry Brown’s main reason for visiting New Jersey in mid-September was for an in-home visit with 2015 target Markis McDuffie. But Brown took some other stops in the Garden State, and national basketball powerhouse Saint Benedict’s Prep was one of them.

Brown went to visit 2017 guards Trevon Duval and Nate Pierre-Louis, and ended up offering both. They may not be notable names now, but Duval and Pierre-Louis are two fast-rising players.

“They’re getting better and better,” Mark Taylor, the coach at Saint Ben’s, said. “They’re both 6-foot-3 as sophomores, so they’ve got good size. They both can play the point and the two. Both can score and get in the lane, so they’re very dangerous.”

Brown had never talked with either Duval or Pierre-Louis before, although Taylor thinks Brown might have watched Duval on the summer circuit. Taylor says that Brown loved everything he saw from Duval and Pierre-Louis, as well as the Saint Ben’s program.

“He really liked how both of them can shoot it and the way they can get in the lane,” Taylor said. “He said if Trevon can improve his shot more, he’s a pro. He was really impressed with both of them.”

Neither Duval nor Pierre-Louis have told Taylor much about their talks with Brown, but Taylor knows they were thrilled to have talked to him.

“They’re young, but they know who Larry Brown is, and they’re very excited about that.”

Both players have started to rack up offers. Miami (Fla.), Texas Tech, SMU, Rutgers and Seton Hall have offered Duval and Pierre-Louis. Duval, who is Scout’s second-ranked point guard in 2017, also has offers from Villanova, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Pierre-Louis holds Florida State, Wagner and Penn State offers. Taylor said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is coming to watch Duval in the coming days.

Dhillon hoping for SMU offer soon

By: Demetrio Teniente

Last Saturday Raj Dhillon sat in the stands of Ford Stadium and saw first-hand the situation June Jones left behind when he stepped down from SMU’s head coaching position three weeks ago.

“The school that I’m at right now we are having a hard time getting enough guys on the field that are healthy and be on the team,” he said. “We are supposed to be a 4A school, but we play 6A teams. So I know what its like to go down early but you have to fight through adversity and do your job.”

Dhillon, a 6-3 285 pound offensive lineman from Paschal High School, is in the class of 2015 but hasn’t committed to a program yet, because he hasn’t received the offers he is looking for.

As it turns out SMU, who he expects will offer him soon, is near the top of his list. Dhillon says that if and when he gets an offer from SMU, they’d be in his top three.

“I’ve always liked the university.” Dhillon said. “What they’ve told me so far about the recruiting process and where I stand with them- they’re keeping it real with me and I’m just going along with it seeing what’s going to happen.”

Dhillon has been in contact with SMU offensive line coach Wes Suan and a special team coach Carlos Barocio-Leon for some time now and feels good about those relationships.

“I talk them mostly through text and email- just how my week was, how was practice and I’ll ask them about where I’m at on their board and stuff like that,” Dhillon said. “And I’m going to send them my highlight tape of my first three games sometime this week when I’m done with it.”

Even with the mess left behind by Jones’ sudden departure, Dhillon’s interest in SMU remains.

“When I met coach Jones, I really liked him,” Dhillon said. “I would have liked for him to stay and see how the season would have turned out. But basically, I’m going to go to a school on academic reasons as well. So that’s half the battle if not more. Coaches change- they come and they leave, but to me it’s all about the program not the head coach.”

Last season, Dhillon showed scouts that he could make great blocks on the move during screen plays and outside runs. So this year he has focused on showing off his raw strength and explosiveness.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot better from last year,” Dhillon said. “A lot of colleges told me that they want to see me doing a lot more drive blocking and just staying on my first [defensive-lineman] instead of moving on to the second level. So I have a lot of good highlights of just drive blocking my guys and man handling everybody [so far this season].”

Dhillon expects to receive offers from Texas State and Navy in the coming weeks. Dhillon shows a lot of promise and SMU shouldn’t hesitate to make their run at him.

Kaufman expected at TCU

By: Andrew Hattersley

Highland Park outside linebacker Mitchell Kaufman visited SMU this weekend, despite a short stay for the A&M game; Kaufman plans to be back Saturday when SMU faces TCU in the Iron Skillet game.

“I mean it was alright, I didn’t stay very long because of the score, but it was cool to see that many people in the stadium even if they were Aggies,” said Kaufman, ”I’ll definitely go to TCU this weekend though.”

Kaufman just attended the game and did not speak to any of the coaches while on his visit but he said he did get a call from coach Mason last week.

“He was just checking in on how things were going,” said Kaufman, ”I really like him, I think he’s a really good coach, he’s definitely been a part of me coming here.”

As for Kaufman’s own team, Highland Park is set to begin district play with a 3-0 start to the year.

While, 2 of the 3 games were blowouts that had Kaufman on the sideline for the second half, he has already made his stamp on one game this year for the Scots.

“I had a big pick six in the second game, we were losing and my pick tied it and turned the tide again for us,” said Kaufman.

The Highland Park outside linebacker did note, while he is off to a good start to the year, this is still only his second year playing and there is still a lot of room for him to grow.

“I’m working on my fundamentals, this is only my second year so I’m still learning to read, react and make plays,” said Kaufman.

As of right now, Kaufman plans to focus on his own season and continuing to get better but said he will likely attend more SMU games this season, as well as, officially take a visit later in the year and meet with the coaches.

Jonathan Yenga Q&A

By: Demetrio Teniente

DT: You’re still looking for your first win, how hungry are you to get that first one?
JY: We are really hungry man. We need to show everyone that even though we started off bad, we are fighting through adversity right now but its not going to stop us. We just got to take it one step at a time and it starts here in practice. How well we practice is how well we are going to play.

DT: How great would it be to get that first one against TCU?
JY: It would be a great feeling. Its something that we want, but for us to enjoy it we have to put in the work and not let them beat us.

DT: How ready are you all for TCU?
JY: We are getting there. Just taking it one day at a time. We are just putting in everything we need to get better for TCU.

DT: So it’s a rivalry game this week what do think about playing in this heated of a game?
JY: To me I feel like every game should be like a rivalry game because we have to go into every game like ‘this is a rival, we need to take it seriously’ not just against TCU.

DT: What are some of your thoughts about TCU?
JY: I think their offense is pretty good. They have some tackles that look like they can block. They have some good receivers and their quarterback is good too. So really our main focus this week is tackling better- we have to do a better job at tackling and when we play TCU that’s what we need to focus on.

DT: A lot of people are down on the team, but Mason has been adamant about how much he believes in you guys. What does that mean to you?
JY: It means a lot when you have a guy like coach Mason who is still pushing us and telling us that even though we are losing and even though everyone is against us or not even paying attention to us, we still have great guys that are leading us and we still have eachother. Anything anyone says outside our clan we really don’t listen to it- we are a family and we will get through it together and that’s just it.

DT: Mason’s been talking about all the missed tackles against A&M, what do you think was the cause of that?
JY: I feel like it was because we were over pursuing. A lot of guys were doing that and opening huge gaps for them to cut back on our defense and that just killed us. We have to do a better job at that.

DT: Since day one, do you see an improvement from the defense?
JY: I see improvement everyday. Like when it comes to just everyone being on the same page and getting the right calls. We are playing fast and playing together and that’s something we are trying to do each week.

DT: Some guys are coming back from injury, does it give the team a boost to have those guys back?
JY: Yea, its always good to have every guy healthy. We got JR and Horace back, so its great to have them back.

DT: Do you like early games?
JY: No, haha, I’m not a morning person at all! But I have to force myself to be mentally ready to play this game.

DT: What is you routine for a morning game?
JY: Usually we will have a wake up call. If its an 11 oclock game, we will wake up around 8. Then we have optional chapel and we’ll sit there for about thirty minutes. After that is special teams meetings and then after that is pre game meal. Then we get on the bus and get here around nine or so.

DT: Now, you’re used to Mason because you are a defensive guy, so what difference have you seen with him now that he is the head coach?
JY: Now’s he’s getting on everyone. On defense he was just yelling at us and driving us nuts but now that he is the head coach he’s doing the same thing with the offense. He’s getting on everyone. Whenever guys are not blocking he gets on their butt and just starts pushing them, because you know he cares about us and he wants us to be great. And that’s what we need out of a coach.

Taylor Lasecki Q&A

By: Andrew Hattersley

AH: How has preparation been for TCU?
TL: It’s been good, we’ve had good days and days that haven’t been so good but we ended on a high note as far as practice goes, we’ve got a lot of the looks we think they’re going to throw at us so we’re working on that but its been good, I think the offensive line has continued to get better every week from where we started out at, we got better with North Texas and I thought we got a little better with the A&M game too so if we continue that trend I think we’ll have a good chance against TCU.

AH: What kind of impact do you think Tim Davis has had?
TL: He’s had a big impact working with the tackles, the tackles have gotten better and the energy he’s brought his awesome. Some of the drills he’s brought here have helped. Him and coach Suan it’s been good, they’ve been working together and with the film study, at least with A&M, he had played A&M too when he was at Florida, he had some other perspectives on things they do and cheats they do here and there and just the intensity he brings, it’s nice to have a coach who brings that fire and energy. It’s been a good addition and working really well, especially since we have a lot of guys on the offensive line, like 18 players, so we’re talking about a lot of guys, so it’s nice to be able to break up in half. It’s nice to break up in half and have half the guys go with him and half go with coach Suan to get some more individual work and some more quality instruction.

AH: Does this game mean a little more being TCU and the Iron Skillet?
TL: Yeah, for the school and all the history behind the game, you realize how much it means to the student body and alumni around here, that’s really important. For me, it’s another game, you got to go out and kind of put your blinders on, when you play a game you don’t really look at the uniform they’re wearing, you’re playing against the guy. Pregame, yeah the kind of rivalry it is, and like I said for the alumni, it’s a big game so it might be the most important we can get all season. That sounds crazy to say, but this is the game everyone looks forward to and everyone wants us to do well in. You can see that when we last won the iron skillet back when I was a true freshman, the vibe was unreal and it was just a different feeling around here, I’ve won bowl games, you win conference games but this game doesn’t really compare to those.

AH: Talk about the play of Garrett Krstich.
TL: You know he came in the huddle in that game and he didn’t really get any reps in fall camps, he’s got some more reps as the season’s gone on, but just the biggest thing I was surprised about was his presence in the huddle, he’s the same age I am so he’s been here for a while so he’s got some poise and that was the coolest thing was him being able to come in and command the huddle was awesome.

He played physical and he played tough, on some of those runs you obviously want him to slide and you’d like him to stay in the pocket and make the pass but he had positive yards, that’s helping the rushing yards too. He was flushed out of the pocket and was able to run, like I said you want him to slide, you don’t want him to take those hits, he was a little bruised up afterwards but it’s nice to have a competitor out there whether you know skill level or size, as long as you compete that’s a big thing. I thought he competed and I thought he did well so it’ll be interesting to see how he does this upcoming weekend, I think he’ll do really well.

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