The Hilltop Review 1/9

Come inside this week's Hilltop Review for all the latest news in SMU's recruiting news!

McNew talks SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

2015 Robinson HS (Tex) outside linebacker Matt McNew finally picked up the offer he’s been waiting for from SMU.

“It’s very humbling, I really appreciate that they’ve offered me, I’ve kind of been waiting on a school like that to offer me, they finally did and it’s very exciting,” said McNew.

McNew will take a visit to SMU next weekend, and if he likes what he sees, he will commit soon after.

“If I go there and it’s what I’m looking for then I’m going to commit there,” said McNew.

The 6-2, 215-pound linebacker has been discussing with his parents lately what would happen if SMU were to offer him and is thrilled that this day has finally arrived.

“They’re on top, I’ve been waiting on a school like that to offer me and they were definitely one that I had talked to my parents about if they were to offer and what we would do,” said McNew, “They’re on the top of my list and I’m very excited about it.”

One of the things the outside linebacker is most excited about is getting to be a part of a new culture at SMU.

“It’s exciting to come into a place like that and be able to turn things around, coach Morris coming in, that’s a huge upgrade, it’s got to be really cool with all the excitement that he’s bringing and what he brings to the table, it would be really cool to go play for that,” said McNew.

The fast-paced atmosphere at SMU is also something McNew finds very appealing.

“That’s definitely exciting to go into a system like that, not many people get to go into a system like that, that would be a pretty cool thing to be a part of,” said McNew.

Assistant coach Keith Gunn and linebackers Coach Archie McDaniel have been the main recruiters for McNew but he did get a chance to talk to coach Van Malone while being offered.

McNew also had offers from New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northwestern State, Navy, Army and Air Force but New Mexico was the front-runner for him before SMU jumped in with an offer.

“I was interested in New Mexico and everything but with SMU offering, that’s definitely something I’ll have to think about,” said McNew.

Robinson enjoyed a successful football season this past season, including making it deeper into the playoffs than they have in recent memory, something McNew was very proud of, as well as his own season.

“I had a really good season, I led the team in tackles, I was one of the big leaders on the team and felt like I was able to help lead the defense, we had a better defense there than we’ve had in a long time,” said McNew, “I think I was a big part of helping us be as good as we were, I know we had some great coaches, and coaching strategies and game plans that helped us out but I felt like I did pretty good this year.”

Allen receiver not hearing from SMU as much

By: Billy Embody

2015 Allen (Tex.) wide receiver Lee Morris is one of the most underrated players in the area with offers from only New Mexico and SMU, but SMU hasn’t been showing the love to Morris.

“I sent a text to coach Mathis and an email to the new wide receiver coach, but I haven’t really gotten a reply yet from either of them,” Morris said.

New Mexico is only school trying to set up visit, but Morris isn’t sure if he’s going to take the visit as of now.

Tulsa, Houston and North Texas are the only schools really coming after Morris at the time, but no offers or visits have been planned.

“They like my skillset, my game. They think I can be a really good asset on their team. That’s basically it,” Morris said.

If SMU’s new staff were to show interest, Morris would be interested just because of Chad Morris’ plan and offense.

“I find it a pretty good school. I think coach Morris has a pretty good plan to rebuild this team and I’m pretty interested in what he can do,” the 6-2, 200-pound receiver said. “He’s a pretty respected coach who runs a high-powered offense and passes a lot like we do here at Allen.”

In the past, Morris wouldn’t have looked at SMU.

“They were a kind of team that was in a bit of a slump with their really bad season last year, but other than that there really wasn’t any real interest in them, I just wasn’t looking at them much.”

If SMU were to really push for Morris, Morris feels like the situation could lead to him getting some early action.

“It’d be huge because they have a good amount of players leaving,” Morris said. “Coach Mason talked about before he was released how I had a pretty good chance of going in there as a freshman and playing.”

Even with the minimal interest, Morris is playing the game and staying patient.

“Right now, I’m just being patient and seeing what else comes, but if nothing else comes I probably will decide between one of those two,” Morris said. “I thought about walking on at a big school, but I will probably take one of those two offers.”

For all the coaches who end up not jumping in on Morris’ recruitment, it’ll only push him to work harder.

“It’s a pretty big part of what I’ll do is proving people wrong and showing people what they’re missing out on and showing that they overlooked a pretty good athlete.”

Morris and Allen knew they’d have a big target on their back, but when their backs were against the wall the team stayed calm en route to their third straight state championship.

“We just kept our head down and focused on what we had to do that week and didn’t look ahead,” Morris said. “We just stayed calm and executed our plan from there. We didn’t let the emotions get to us and finished with a three-peat.”

Morris has one message for college coaches about what he can bring to a program.

“I’m a guy who’s willing to work hard and sacrifice whatever I have to so I can help our team win,” Morris said. “Whether it’s blocking, catching the ball and I’m a player that can develop into a big-time, go-to receiver at the next level.”

Morris finished his high school career with 43 catches for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns in his senior season.

Shake Milton updates season, preparation for SMU

By: Andrew Hattersley

SMU signee Shake Milton has been enjoying a successful season for Owasso (Okla) so far as they are off to a 5-1 start, but there is one game in particular from Milton that caught everyone’s attention.

Milton put on a clinic in an 86-56 victory over Bixby on December 12 where the Owasso guard went for 52 points, 12 assists, and 5 steals.

“I just got in a really good rhythm and my teammates did a great job of finding me in open spots, once I hit a couple of shots I just felt like anything I shot was going to go in,” said Milton, “It was a really big game and it was just a lot of fun to play in, I was excited.”

Milton has been working hard on both sides of the ball this season with an eye towards the future and what he might be asked to do at SMU.

“I’ve just worked on dribble combinations, and then pick and roll type stuff, coming off screens and being able to hit shots, and then of course, defense, defense, and getting stronger,” said Milton.

Milton has also been keeping a close eye on the current SMU team and is getting even more excited to be a part of the culture at SMU as the season progresses.

“I think we’ve played pretty well, I think there’s been times where we haven’t played as well as we could have played but I definitely think those guys are doing the best they can and they look like they’re having a lot of fun out there which is what I love the most,” said Milton.

Milton is also excited to play alongside point guard Nic Moore next season and learn from one of the best guards in the American Conference.

“I’m definitely excited, he’s going to be someone I can definitely learn from and the guy can really shoot the ball, so anytime I find him, it’ll have a really good chance at going in,” said Milton.

He has not had a lot of contact with current SMU players other than Ben Moore, but said he has kept up with them and his fellow commits on social media.

Milton, however, has talked a lot with the SMU coaching staff and feels like their relationship is getting stronger every day.

“I hear mainly from coach Turner, I hear from coach Maligi and coach Brown too, it’s mainly just from them all,” said Milton, “I feel like our relationship is coming along and getting more comfortable so its definitely a good relationship.”

Although Milton is chomping at the bit to get onto campus, he is hitting the exciting stretch of his season and has some unfinished business before he graduates.

“We have two more tournaments to play in and then conference play is going to start, and that’s just really exciting because hopefully we can get to the state tournament and have a chance to win it all,” said Milton.

Milton says he definitely hopes to make it to SMU for a few games this season but says he still needs to figure out what dates he can come.

2017 point guard talks SMU visit

By: Patrick Engel

Over the holiday break, SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi attended the DFW-area Whataburger tournament and watched 2017 Keller (Tex.) High School point guard R.J. Nembhard.

“I thought I played pretty well (for him),” Nembhard said. “I tried to keep my composure and play the same way I always play.”

SMU has previously shown interest in Nembhard when a coach (he doesn’t remember who) spoke with his dad, Reuben.

“He was saying (to my dad) how he liked my game and they’re going to continue to come by and try to get me to take an unofficial soon, visit the campus and see if I like it,” Nembhard said, adding that he would visit for a game at Moody.

Nembhard said he doesn’t know much about SMU, but wants to learn more about SMU when he visits, which will likely be in late January. He said SMU has not yet had conversations with his dad about an offer, although that could change when he visits.

Kansas State, TCU and Creighton have offered the 6-foot-3, 175-pound guard, and Texas and Ohio State have shown interest. He does not have a favorite school.

“So far it’s equal. I’m enjoying the recruitment process and thankful that teams are looking at me this early,” Nembhard said. “[I’m looking for] style of basketball that fits my play. Besides basketball, I’m looking for a business management department, because that’s what I want to study.”

Nembhard, who plays AAU for Team Texas Elite, said he likes offenses that run a lot of pick-and-rolls, since he is a point guard.

2016 defensive back talks SMU visit

By: Patrick Engel

A group of players from Oklahoma tripped down to SMU in December, and 2016 Casady (Okla.) cornerback Max Wariboko was among them. Wariboko and his brother, 2015 OL Josh, picked up SMU offers shortly after the school hired Chad Morris as head coach.

“I thought my visit was great,” the younger Wariboko said. “It got me excited because of all the opportunities SMU has after football. It’s such a great university. And they have great coaches with coach Morris, coach Malone and coach Loepp. It’s exciting because I know how great of a place it can be.”

Max knows Malone and Loepp from their days at Oklahoma State and Tulsa, respectively. He said that SMU’s hiring of Malone, Morris and most of all Loepp piqued his interest in becoming a Mustang. Loepp offered Max when he coached at Tulsa, and offering him was one of his first moves as an SMU coach.

“We have a great relationship,” Max said of Loepp. He’s one of my favorite coaches, and that opened my eyes. He’s not just a coach, he’s my friend, and I can come to him with anything. He’ll take care of me in college.”

The 5-foot-10, 172-pound corner said the rest of the group enjoyed the visit and each player could picture himself at SMU. However, Josh, Scout’s 152nd-ranked player, left SMU out of his top three in favor of Oklahoma, UCLA and Ohio State. Max said the school that lands Josh could get a boost from him as well.

“It’s a priority for the family,” Max said about playing with Josh. “But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

Despite SMU’s absence from Josh’s top three, Max still sees SMU as a realistic destination for himself.

“It’s pretty high,” Max said. “My family is big on academics, and SMU is one of the leaders in that area. That puts it really high up there for me. I like it a lot, and my family does too.”

Max has offers from SMU, Louisville, Tulsa and UCLA, while Texas Tech and Nebraska have shown interest. He said he plans to visit SMU in the spring for a junior day.

“I want to go camp and perform in front of the coaches and prove to them that I want to play for them,” Max said.

2015 defensive tackle expressing SMU interest

By: Andrew Hattersley

2015 Aldine Davis HS (Tex) defensive tackle Javier Edwards wondered why he hadn’t heard from SMU Assistant Coach Van Malone, until he found him on Twitter and realized he was now at SMU.

“I actually wondered why I hadn’t heard from Oklahoma State in a long time,” said Edwards, “I didn’t know until he started following me on Twitter, he was really saying that I would like it at SMU.”

Edwards, a 6-2, 330-pound run stopper, said he’s very interested in SMU because his uncle graduated from SMU in the 1990s.

“I’m very interested in SMU because my uncle he had graduated from there, he went on to play with the San Diego Chargers for a couple seasons,” said Edwards.

Edwards has also been trying to get in touch with SMU Head Coach Chad Morris through twitter.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet, I’ve been following him on twitter but I don’t think he’s followed me back, I’m trying to get in touch with him,” said Edwards.

Edwards has visits lined up with Iowa State on January 16th, Kansas State on January 30th and said he and the coaching staff are trying to schedule his visit somewhere in between those two.

Before Edwards plays collegiately, he knows there is a lot he needs to work on, especially becoming a better pass rusher.

“I need to work on pass rushing, getting in better shape, lose some weight a little bit, and then getting a faster first step off the ball,” said Edwards.

Edwards does excel in the running game, however, which is an area SMU struggled with all last season.

“I’m good at tackling, running people down and stopping people on the run.”

2016 DB expressing interest in SMU

By: Scott Sanford

2016 Houston Christian (Tex.) defensive back/running back Ahonore Varner is still searching for his first offer, which is why the 5-foot-10, 180-pounds junior has taken it upon himself to reach out to some coaches at the collegiate level.

Varner has reached out to a handful of coaches including SMU’s offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and defensive backs coach Jess Loepp.

Craddock and Varner talked briefly with Varner expressing his interest, but the corner hopes to talk more in depth with Coach Craddock as soon as dead period ends.

While Varner does not hold an offer from SMU just yet, that didn’t stop the Houston native from putting the Mustangs at the top of his list.

“I’d had to say SMU is my favorite school right now,” Varner said. “It’s good proximity for my mom coming from Houston and she has family in Highland Park so I really want to stay close to home if possible.”

Varner plans to take an unofficial visit to SMU around the time of the Mustangs’ spring game to learn more about the school, but he already knows his academics would be taken care of on the Hilltop.

“The school and the academics, that’s a big thing for my family. I want to study sports medicine and I have a family member, her and her husband are both alumni, and they love talking about SMU,” Varner said.

Varner had no contact with the old coaching staff, but the two-way player said he can already sense the newfound excitement surrounding the program and the new staff.

“I like the idea of a new staff and jumping into a program where we could start fresh and build something together,” Varner said.

Besides SMU, Varner is hearing from Florida A&M University and Tulane, and is supposed to hear from Fresno State soon.

Varner plans to play both ways his senior year, but when it comes to college, he has no preference as to which side of the ball he wants to play on.

“I don’t really have a preference,” Varner said. “I’m the type of player wherever I fit in that’s where I’ll play. If you need me to be a place holder I’ll do that.”

Varner understands there is a ton of work to be put in before his senior season and is excited to take advantage of his off-season.

“This off-season I want to get fast. I came to the reality that you can get your strength up in college, but getting your speed up takes time,” Varner said. “I want to work on getting faster and quicker and just making myself more of a dynamic player.”

Green talks SMU visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

2017 Woodrow Wilson HS (Tex.) ATH Darrion Green, visited SMU recently to take in the Allen vs. Skyline game.

Although Green was on campus he has not had much contact with the new coaching staff yet but hopes that will change soon.

“Unfortunately I haven't had any communication with anyone from SMU but I hope to do so real soon,” said Green.

“Speedy,” a 5’11 170 pound athlete, has also heard great things about new head coach Chad Morris and the new staff.

“So far from what I've heard, coach Chad Morris is a great coach along with a great coaching staff,” said Green,” He did really great job with the Clemson program.”

The Woodrow Wilson multi-purpose player said despite not having a lot of contact with SMU, they are still certainly among his top five right now because of the educational balance they have to offer.

“I believe SMU has a great campus, an awesome educational program, and a football program that I think could possibly be a great fit for me,” said Green.

Despite being a couple years away from having to make a decision, Green has received a lot of interest so far from a number of schools including TCU, Nebraska, University of Montana, BYU, Yale, Midwestern State University and Colorado State University.

Green will also be taking a visit to SMU early in the New Year.

“I will be taking unofficial visit in February on President's Day[February 16],” said Green.

Green has seen time as a defensive back and running back for the Wildcats.

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