The Hilltop Review

Come inside another jam-packed Hilltop Review for all the latest SMU recruiting news!

Southlake Carroll DB talks SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Carroll HS (Tex.) cornerback Obi Eboh received an offer from SMU earlier this week, his ninth so far.

“It’s going pretty good, I’ve been talking a lot with the coaches, especially coach Loepp, he’s been doing most of my recruiting, and after Monday it was more of coach Malone and getting to talk to him a little bit more,” said Eboh.

Eboh said the coaches love his game but stressed to him the important part now is making sure he works now on fitting into the SMU style on all levels.

“He basically said he liked all of my intangibles, and just work on being a player and person that fits in the SMU system, not just athletically but academically as well,” said Eboh.

Eboh is not all that familiar yet with the coaching staff but has confidence they’re going to get SMU heading the right direction because of how they’ve already been able to mesh together.

“Honestly it’s a new staff, but I think coach Morris hired a bunch of guys that are buying into his system and they’re going to do great next year but I got to meet first with them, it seems like they’ve got a good staff,” said Eboh, “They’ve bonded together to bring some new things to SMU that haven’t been done previously so I’m just excited to see what they’re going to do next year and going forward.”

Eboh plans on coming to SMU very soon for junior and likely again during the summer.

The Carroll cornerback also has offers from Rice, Duke, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Oregon State and Texas Tech.

As for any front-runners early on, Eboh said that as of right now everyone is pretty much on a level playing field.

“Everybody is pretty even right now, I’m not really putting anybody above anybody else, I’m just talking to everyone and looking everywhere,” said Eboh, “SMU’s up there because academically they’re one of the top schools in the country academically and its definitely a school that I’m definitely interested in because its one of the top schools in the country.”

One thing that will not give SMU any big advantage is being so close to home for Eboh but he admitted it would be nice.

“It’s not too important, I mean everyone wants to stay close to home but I’m not opposed to going out of state or anything like that, it’s not too important.”

2015 running back recaps SMU in-home visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

2015 Spring HS (Tex.) running back Xavier Jones is ready to make his final official visit to SMU this weekend after visiting Memphis last week.

“I’m looking forward to SMU a lot, I’m looking forward to seeing the football facility, I’m looking forward to seeing the campus, I’m looking forward to talking to some of the professors about my major, “ said Jones, “I’m looking forward to meeting the coaching staff actually and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the guys that I know go to SMU so I’m excited.”

Jones says he will be paying attention to a lot of these things and also would like to develop a strong relationship with coach Morris on the visit.

“I will definitely be paying attention to those, also I want to try create a bond with coach Morris, I hear he’s a great guy so I definitely want to try to speak to him a little bit,” said Jones.

Coach Mathis is one of the coaches that has already developed a strong bond with Jones and paid him and his family a visit at their home earlier this week.

“My home visit was with coach Mathis, I didn’t get to see coach Morris, but I really like coach Mathis, it went really really well, I feel like we have a great bond and the home visit went very well, very well,” said Jones.

Despite spending most of his time talking to coach Mathis, from what he’s heard from coach Mathis, Jones has the utmost confidence this program will get turned around very quickly, even hinting it could be this season.

“SMU was an underdog last year, they didn’t have a good season but the coaching staff this year, from what coach Mathis said, it’s going to be great, I’m excited about that, and then everyone who’s working with coach Morris has worked with him or had a relationship with him before they came to SMU so that’s always a good thing to hear,” said Jones, “Everyone is always pointing to how they love SMU, so it’d be huge to get them back on their feet as soon as possible, maybe this year.”

Before his in home visit with coach Mathis, Jones also took an official visit to Memphis last week.

“It went well, it was good, I really liked the visit, it was a lot of fun, I’m looking forward to having another great visit with SMU,” said Jones.

The Lions running back was noncommittal about when he would make a decision following his visit to SMU other than assuring fans it will come before February 4th.

With the recruitment process coming to a close for Jones, he admitted the process has been a fun one for him but also one he’s ready to be done with.

“It’s been fun, very fun, but it’s been stressful because it’s your future, this is going to be one of the biggest things I ever do, probably the biggest decision I ever make,” said Jones, “I appreciate every school that offered me, it means a lot and I have narrowed it down to these two schools and I’m excited.”

2016 offensive lineman loves SMU visit

By: Demetrio Teniente

In last week’s Hilltop Review, Patrick Engel told you all about 2016 Wakeland High School offensive guard Jacob Todora picking up an offer from SMU. When Patrick spoke to him, Todora wasn’t planning on committing anytime soon. Just a week later, he seems to have changed his tune.

When it comes to campus tours, SMU’s new coaching staff doesn’t play around.

“It was one of the best visits I’ve been on,” Todora said. “They did all they could and it worked. I’m still going to visit a couple more colleges, but I’m pretty sure I want to go there.” Todora has been in contact mostly with coach Dustin Fry, who led the junior on the campus tour.

“I think he is really good- I like him and I think he is a good offensive line coach,” Todora said. “I really like the relationship we have built and it’s very open and he’s just friendly guy. I feel like a family member to him.”

As most people are when stepping onto the Hilltop for the first time, Todara was taken aback by the beauty of the campus. However, it was the warm reception by the SMU coaches that left a lasting impression on the junior guard.

“When I showed up, the coaches were in a meeting,” he said. “All of them stood up, shook my hand and took a picture with me and we talked for a little bit. I felt that was important, because for a recruit to interrupt a meeting and get that response made me feel important. I thought it was really nice and I liked it.”

I spoke to Todora for a good length of time and we talked about all kinds of things- even what he likes to order from Whataburger. Yet time and time again, we kept coming back to how impressed he was with the coaching staff.

“[Last year] it looked like they had no coaching,” Todaora said. “Like they were just a bunch of 20 year olds trying to do it all by themselves. And I can just tell by my talks with the coaches, that things are going to be different. And I knew there would be a change in atmosphere with the new coaches, but I didn’t expect this. The coaches were very impressive.”

Todora seems to have bought in to the message of the SMU coaching staff and is very excited about possibly joining them after he graduates in 2016. However I want to make it clear that while he says SMU is now the frontrunner, he is waiting until completing his other visits before he makes a decision.

SMU hosting Houston commit for official visit

By: Patrick Engel

With less than two weeks until signing day, coaching staffs are working long hours to fill up their classes and address needs. SMU has just two offensive linemen committed for 2015, but Brazosport (Texas) OT and Houston commit Bryce Wilds could be third after receiving an offer from SMU earlier this week, courtesy of offensive coordinator Joe Craddock. Wilds will take an official visit to SMU the weekend of Jan. 30.

“It was a good feeling (to get the offer). I’m pretty happy about it,” Wilds said. “I’m excited to get there and meet the staff. I know the offensive coordinator, but not anyone else.”

Wilds is also taking an official to Tulsa on Jan. 23. He committed to Houston in August 2014 but remained committed through the Cougars’ coaching change.

“I’m committed to Houston, I’m just looking around,” Wilds said.

The 6-foot-7, 317-pound Wilds took his official visit to Houston on Jan. 17 and liked everything about Houston’s new coach, Tom Herman.

“I talk to him fairly often, and they come visit me fairly often,” Wilds said.

Despite the two other officials, Wilds was noncommittal on the possibility of a flip to Tulsa or SMU.

“I don’t know yet. We’ll see how it goes,” Wilds said of potentially flipping on a visit.

Wilds was a shot-putter until his junior year of high school, so he has only played two years of football. His team suffered through a 2-8 season, which he called “horrible” because of the losses and because he played guard instead of tackle.

“It was still fun, it just wasn’t tackle,” Wilds said of playing guard. “I’m not bad at playing guard, I’m just better at tackle.”

Wilds played tackle his first year of football, and at 6-foot-7, is a much better fit at tackle. He is being recruited as a tackle by SMU.

2016 defensive back picks up SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2016 Bishop Dunne (Tex.) corner back Josh Drayden recently picked up an SMU offer from SMU defensive coordinator Van Malone and Jess Loepp and the coaches let it be known just how much Drayden would like The Hilltop just from their short time in Dallas.

“They were just talking about football some and SMU itself and how campus life is a great feeling to be there,” the 5-10, 165-pound defensive back said. “They haven’t been there long, but have high regards for it already.”

Drayden was told that it’s going to take a different type of player that has been at SMU to rebuild it into a winner.

“They’re bringing a whole new philosophy in. It’s more about the character of the person and if you have a lot of guys with good character then it’s just going to bring more success to the program,” Drayden said. “You’re going to have people that want to work. If you buy into the coaching, you’ll put in what you get out of it.

After his conversation with the coaches, Drayden identified the type of coaches they are as coaches he’d like to be around.

“They’re really cool. I can relate to both of them. They remind me of my high school coaches right now and when I went, we weren’t just talking about football,” Drayden said. “We could have gone the whole day just talking about whatever. We had good conversations and it was just a good feel when I was talking to them.”

With the new staff and some solid recruiting, Drayden sees SMU’s future getting better sooner rather than later.

“The way that the coaches were talking, I think next year’s going to be a big jump and in the coming years so it’s all about recruiting so if they get great players they’re going to build the program,” Drayden said. “I think in the next couple years, they’re going to be a top-notch program.”

Toledo has also offered Drayden, but it isn’t lost on the local product that SMU was one of the first to show him some love.

“It makes me feel wanted. I like it because my recruitment has been slow. I mean I’ve been talking to people, but as far as offers go, it’s been slow,” Drayden said. “They reached out and showed me they really like what I’m doing on the football field and they like what I’m doing off the football field. It just made me feel like there’s somebody out there wanting me.”

In a school, Drayden is looking for the right feel more than anything.

“Distance is not really a factor. It’s more of the college itself and how I feel about it because if I go somewhere outside of Texas, if it feels like home I’ll be alright. If I stay in-state and close to home, that’s a plus.”

SMU invited Drayden to their junior day. Baylor and Northwestern have shown interest as well. At the time, Drayden doesn’t have a top school.

Even at 5-10, 165 pounds, Drayden likes to be right up in a receiver’s grill.

“Physical. I like being physical with receivers and being a ballhawk. When the ball is in the air, I’m going to catch it or nobody is going to catch.”

2016 athlete talks SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

SMU has the Scott twins committed for 2015, but earlier this week Chad Morris and his staff reached out and offered the Duvernay twins, Devin and Donovan, who are 2016 players from Sachse (Texas) HS. Donovan, who plays wide receiver and defensive back, got a call from Morris and SMU wide receivers coach Justin Stepp on Monday telling him that he had on offer from the Mustangs.

“It came by surprise, but it felt great. I’m excited” Donovan said.

The previous SMU staff showed interest in Donovan and Devin before, but the offer was the first time either had heard from the new staff, although Donovan had talked with Morris when Morris coached at Clemson.

“Coach Morris is a cool guy. He’s someone who you can get along with and build a relationship with,” Donovan said.

Donovan said he does not know very much about SMU, but plans to visit for a junior day this spring.

“I haven’t visited or seen very much of it, but it’s close to home and [I’ve heard] it’s a nice campus,” the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Donovan said.

Donovan’s offer list also includes TCU and Boise State. He said all are equal right now and he is far away from a decision, but he is looking forward to seeing SMU.

Devin previously told Pony Stampede that he would like to play with his brother, and Donovan agreed.

“We’ve played with each other our whole lives, so we’re a pretty good fit,” Donovan said “I think it would be something I’d like to do.”

Sachse finished 6-4 and did not qualify for the playoffs, but Donovan was happy with his performance.

“I felt great this season. We didn’t make the playoffs, so we didn’t reach our goals, but I think I had a really good year,” Donovan said.

2016 running back picks up SMU offer

By: Scott Sanford

It’s safe to say the new SMU football coaching staff has set a new standard for recruiting on the Hilltop.

Despite finishing the 2014 season 1-11 with the old staff, the new staff has worked tirelessly to prove to doubters that they are committed to turning around this program once and for all.

To turn around a program that lacked so much talent, the new staff has worked furiously to offer players in the 2015 and 2016 classes that they think can help the SMU football program.

2016 three-star Plano (Tex.) running back Brandon Stephens is one of those players, receiving an offer from the Mustangs on Monday.

Despite holding offers from Ohio State, Illinois, Washington and Wisconsin, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Stephens hadn’t heard from SMU until a familiar face came calling.

SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp recruited Stephens while he was at Tulsa, so the two picked up their relationship right where they left off when Loepp called Stephens with the good news on Monday.

Loepp and Stephens are in contact with each other on a regular basis and have developed a solid friendship.

“He (Coach Loepp) was my recruiter at Tulsa and we stay in touch all the time via twitter and I call him every now and then, so we’re in constant communication,” Stephens said.

Despite the change of venues, Loepp’s contact is still consistent, and now the SMU coach is trying to convince the highly recruited running back to join him on the Hilltop.

Stephens doesn’t know much about new head coach Chad Morris, but he has heard about his reputation from others.

“I’m not too familiar with him, but he’s a great coach and has a great coaching staff,” Stephens said. “I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him and his other coaches.”

Stephens was hoping to get an opportunity to meet Morris on a visit in the next two weeks, but Loepp and Stephens have agreed to wait on setting up a visit until the staff can “give him the one-on-one attention” that he deserves.

With still more than a year until Stephen’s National Signing Day, the junior is taking his time getting to know all of the coaches that are recruiting him and said he has no favorites at the moment.

While Stephens might not have any favorites just yet, the running back knows what he’s looking for in a school.

“First of all, a great academic program,” Stephens said. “SMU, at least in my opinion, stresses school a lot which is good. School is first and second is my sports opportunity and where I fit in the most.”

Local 2016 receiver takes unofficial visit to SMU

By: Billy Embody

2016 Plano East wide receiver Adewale Omotosho visited SMU with his mom Monday to tour the campus and facilities as well as meet the coaching staff. Receivers coach Justin Stepp showed “Ade” more than he could have anticipated.

“He showed me the renovations and the plans they had to really spark up the program and the image of the program,” the 6-4, 180-pound receiver said. “He showed me the team room, the weight room. He told me how the days would be and the tempo of the program.”

The renovations Stepp told Omotosho about included some major projects to be completed while Omotosho would be on campus.

“They had posters set up to kind of display how it was going to look after it was done and they’re also getting a new indoor built over where the soccer fields are and they’re going to move the soccer fields over. It should all be done by around my sophomore year of college,” Omotosho said.

When Omotosho told Stepp he planned to major in business, Stepp took him right to the Cox School of Business, which impressed Omotosho as well.

“It was really nice. On display, it had all the companies and internships and opportunities that students have coming out of their school,” Omotosho said. “It’s something I would look forward to and definitely a great experience.”

The coaching staff made the biggest impression though on the big receiver.

“They’re very welcoming and they made me feel at home and that’s the type of program I want to be a part of is receiving a great education and being around people that want the best for you.”

Getting to meet head coach Chad Morris was a big deal for Omotosho, who saw a great leader in SMU’s new head coach.

“It was great. He was talking to me about the program and SMU has had its past and didn’t have stable coaching, but coach Morris is here to implement his positivity and leadership,” Omotosho said. “He’s getting the team together and really trying to get it going.”

Omotosho had visited SMU for a game before and said that visit wasn’t nearly as “focused and individualized” as this one was.

Getting to know his potential position coach was a positive for the local receiver, who recognized the character of Stepp and the rest of the staff. “Definitely a great vibe, great impression. Coach Stepp, Coach Morris and the rest of the staff, they really have a presence about themselves with leadership and assertion so they’re definitely the type of people I want to surround myself with and it was a positive meeting them.”

The staff has extended a visit to Omotosho for junior day and to watch practice and he fully expects to attend.

Arkansas State, Duke, SMU and Navy have offered and Arkansas, Texas Tech and LSU have shown Omotosho interest so far.

2016 Allen receiver getting SMU interest

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Allen HS (Tex.) wide receiver Kerry Hall has been familiar with SMU since former head coach June Jones, but that relationship has continued to grow under new head coach Chad Morris and his staff.

“I talked to the SMU coaching staff, I think it’s coach Stepp, we’ve been talking over social media and they’ve told me to just keep working and to come out to the camp this summer, he wants to work with me one on one,” said Hall.

The 5-8, 170-pound wide receiver says he is excited to show the staff what he can do and be evaluated by them.

“He’s [Coach Stepp} going to let me know more about the camps and then I’m going to try be there, I’d love to have them evaluate me,” said Hall.

Hall has liked what he has heard from the coaching staff so far and believes the future is bright in the coming years.

“They’re great, they’re trying to do something great and do something better than they already had before so hopefully everything goes well,” said Hall, “Their campus is very nice and their education is obviously very good, and especially with how nice it would be to go home and all that, the football team they’re alright, I think in a couple years they’ll be a little bit better, they’re doing a lot of rebuilding.”

The shifty Allen receiver felt there’s a lot to like about his game that would help a lot of schools, but realizes he’s still got room to grow as a player.

“I don’t really think there’s a DB that can cover me, so if I’m in a game and the DB can’t cover me then we’re putting up points on the board, there’s no question about that, and I also know where to be and I’m a leader,” said Hall.

Hall has been on a visit to SMU before but would love to come back again and meet the new staff this time.

“I actually went on an unofficial visit with my friends and we met the old coaching staff so I met them, it was pretty cool meeting them but I’m excited to get to know the new coaches,” said Hall.

Although he has been to the campus and would love to stay close to home, it will not be a huge factor when it comes time to make a decision.

“It would be nice to stay close to home, so my family could come and watch but college is college, wherever I end up is a blessing no matter what,” said Hall.

Northern Illinois is the only other FBS School to show interest in Hall and will also have him attend one of their camps.

2016 defensive tackle takes unofficial visit

By: Demetrio Teniente

On Monday, 2016 Denton Ryan defensive tackle Ken McLaurin visited the Hilltop and got one of his first looks at the SMU campus.

“The visit was great,” He said. “It’s a great campus. We toured around and got to see a lot of the different buildings. Met all the coaches and then talked to them one on one.”

McLaurin doesn’t have any offers right now, but has been getting a lot of attention from Mississippi State, Arkansas, Purdue, Clemson, Baylor, Mizzou, and now SMU.

“I feel that they (SMU) are very close to offering. He said. “SMU would be the first.”

When Mclaurin talked to’s Gabe Brooks back in October, he didn’t even mention SMU as being one of the schools on his radar. As has been the case with a lot of recruits, this coaching staff has changed their minds.

“My interest level in SMU is actually very high,” McLaurin said. “I like the program a lot. I think all the coaches have a plan for the future. It just seems like they know what they are doing. The staff was real cool. I felt like that was my home and those coaches are just a great group of guys.”

While he waits for the offers to come in, McLaurin will be busy getting ready for his senior season at Denton Ryan. He says one of the things he hopes to do this offseason is to get in better shape.

“Last year I missed some plays that I know I could make because I was tired- especially in the fourth quarter,” McLaurin said. “So I just want to get in better shape and get faster. I have an incredible drive to win and if you need a big play, I will go get that play for you.”

McLaurin has plenty of time left in his high school career to pick up offers, so there will be plenty of opportunities for him to change his stance on different programs. But for the time being, it looks like SMU has his full attention.

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