The Pony Stampede staff picks their SMU spring football practice MVPs on each side of the ball!
Maybe I should have picked left tackle Chauncey Briggs as my dark horse MVP, but anyway the offensive line is coming off a horrendous season. Briggs is the leader and has to be the one to lead this unit back to respectability. I don't think there's too much help in the signing class that can come in right away and contribute on
Billy's Defensive MVP: Zelt Minor
I was a little shocked none of the staff picked Minor, but I'm excited about what Minor is going to do in the spring and on the field this year. Minor was a big pickup for June Jones, but never made a huge impact and fell out of favor a bit with the prior staff. Since Morris' hiring, Minor has had a positive attitude and has voiced his support for the staff and direction of the program. Couple that with Minor buying into the conditioning program and he'll be well on his way to being that impact defensive linemen everyone expected. Whether Minor is inside or out is yet to be determined, but he's versatile enough to make an impact anywhere.
Scott's Offensive MVP: Ben Hicks
After sitting down with the quarterback, I'm picking Hicks to win the starting job over Davis when everything is said and done. I also think Hicks is poised for a strong showing during spring ball for a couple of reasons. First, Hicks has some familiarity running this style of offense because he ran a very similar system in high school. And while the coaching staff doesn't want to rush Hicks, his maturity is years ahead of a typical high school senior, so I expect him to be able to be a leader on the field right away. Hicks has even started to form bonds with the receivers in his signing class, meeting with Kevin Thomas
, Xavier Castille
and James Proche
on multiple occasions to work on timing. All eyes will be on Hicks come spring, and I expect him to surpass expectations.
With guys like Hayden Greenbauer
and Stephon Sanders
gone, Yenga is the leader of this defense now. There is little depth on this defense right now. And with all of the freshman expected to come in and contribute early, the 6-foot-1, 214-pound linebacker needs to step as the vocal leader of this team and guide players like Michael Scott
, Chris Biggurs
, Jordon Williams
, Zach Wood and Zelt Minor so that this defense has a better year than last year. Yenga has played well throughout his career at SMU
, but as a senior, I expect an even more impactful season.
He’s back at his natural tight end spot and will benefit from vastly improved quarterback play. Gaines is a good talent and really the only tight end-type guy in spring camp. Tight ends have always been a key part of Morris’ offense, so I’m looking for Gaines to see a lot of reps and run with the opportunity to become a playmaker. He’ll need to cut down on drops, but I expect receivers coach Justin Stepp
to stress execution of the basics (like proper catching) to all the pass-catchers.
Here’s another good talent who struggled mightily early in the season but bounced back from an injury to come on strong late in the year. Van Malone has a good track record of developing corners, and I think Richardson will take a step forward in coverage. He possesses good ball skills, but could become a valuable piece if he improves his technique in coverage and tackling. I think he’ll be motivated to build on his strong end to last season. Malone and secondary coach Jess Loepp will ensure it.
Hatt's Offensive MVP: Matt Davis
The quarterback battle during the spring semester is going to be intense, but I believe that Davis has the ability to thrive in Chad Morris’ offense as a runner similar to the way he did late last season. If Davis can grab a hold of this job, it would allow Hicks a year to adjust both to college and the game before stepping in there. Davis will again need to work on his passing but there is no doubt that Davis provided this team with a big play ability that would be a welcome addition especially early on in the Chad Morris era. While there is not a lot of talent returning on the offensive side of the ball, Davis, as well, Joseph have a good chance to lead this offense during the transition.
Hatt's Defensive MVP: Jonathan Yenga
With Stephon Sanders graduated, it is time for Yenga to step up as one of the leaders of this defense. Yenga has the talent to be a playmaker on this defense and has made plays in the past. One of the tests for Yenga will be for him to step up as the vocal leader of this team similar to the way Sanders, Kevin Pope
and Hayden Greenbauer have the past two seasons. As long as Yenga can stay on the field, look for him to be one of the big playmakers on this defense, especially early on. Yenga finished last season fourth on the team in tackles with 65 tackles but expect that number to rise this season.
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Ben Hicks' highlights vs. Copperas Cove