The Hilltop Review

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

2015 big man picks up SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

Westland John Glenn (MI) big man Mike Edwards is really seeing his recruitment take off following his tremendous improvement from his junior to senior year.

“People are coming in a little later. It really improved,” Edwards said. “That’s the main things these coaches are impressed with is last year, I went from four points and four rebounds per game to 22 points and 12 rebounds a game. That was a big jump from last year.

SMU assistant coach KT Turner stopped by Wednesday, but Edwards found out about the offer via Twitter on Wednesday night.

“I actually just seen the tweet and I didn’t know they offered. They actually came up today, but they hadn’t said anything,” Edwards said.

Even though the offer caught Edwards by surprise, he had a good conversation with Turner even though he had just met him.

“I talked to him today. He came in to open gym and I just performed and he pointed out some things he liked and talked about the campus a little,” the 6-10, 222-pound center said. “He talked about their style of play and how they can use me. That’s pretty much it.”

“He’s pretty cool. He seems like a good coach. That’s the first time I had seen him though.”

SMU head coach Larry Brown has all the experience Edwards needs to develop his game.

“It seems exciting actually. He talked about Larry Brown and how he could really develop my game to the next level plus those connections. It would be a really good fit coach KT said. He’s coming up next week to see me.”

“Not too familiar. My coach actually talked to Larry Brown two weeks ago. They’re just now coming up,” Edwards said.

Georgia, Nebraska, Marquette, Massachusetts, Kansas State, Arkansas, Auburn and Pittsburgh are the top schools coming after Edwards as of late.

There’s not a favorite for Edwards, but he’s taking an official visit to Georgia this weekend.

Edwards is focused on just a couple things

“How I can come in and play, professional exposure and the overall atmosphere of the college,” Edwards said.

Edwards has the type of all-around game Brown looks for in all of his players.

“Very versatile, can run the floor well, very quick, crash the boards and finishing at the basket from the perimeter.”

Mid-April is when Edwards is targeting a decision, but not before taking a couple visits.


Marshall wide receiver hasn't heard from SMU

By: Patrick Engel

SMU has honored and shown interest in many of the 2016 holdover offers from the previous coaching staff. Fort Bend Marshall (Texas) athlete Jeremy Smith is one of them, but he hasn’t heard from SMU in a while.

“I haven’t heard from the current staff lately, but they’ve been sending me mail,” Smith said.

Smith said he has been around the SMU campus before, but would like to come back for a more formal visit during the summer. Even though he hasn’t had much contact with the new coaching staff, he liked what he heard about SMU from the previous staff.

“They were really talking about playing as a whole, playing as one,” Smith said. “It’s a team thing, you do everything as a whole.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Smith plays quarterback for his high school team, but he is being recruited primarily as a wide receiver. He holds, offers from SMU, Houston, Maryland and Michigan State, but said he views all equally and doesn’t plan on making a decision for a while.

While Smith may be destined for receiver at the college level, his versatility makes him a valuable asset for his high school.

“Quarterback-wise, my strengths are recognizing the coverage and getting the ball to receivers,” Smith said. “Receiver-wise, my hands, my footwork and my speed, and knowing how to break down a defensive back.”

Smith quarterbacked the Buffalos to a 7-4 record and a Class 5A playoff appearance in 2014.

“It was a great year,” Smith said. “I led my team to the second round of the playoffs, and the team as a whole played together as one, and we did what we were supposed to do.”


Alex Honey takes in SMU practice

By: Matt Sanders

Denton Guyer wide receiver Alex Honey was one of several 2015 signees to attend the first Saturday spring practice in the Chad Morris era. Honey was impressed with the tempo of the practice, and how coach Morris operates it.

“It was really exciting to see them practice,” Honey said. “It was cool to have a different perspective.”

Morris’ personality was one of the selling points for several commits, and Honey was one of them. When asked about his relationship with Morris, he had nothing but praise for him.

“I like coach Morris a lot. He has a lot of energy, and he gets me excited to play,” he said.

The 2015 class is special because they are Morris’ first recruiting class. There is pressure on the young men to be successful on the field, but to also become a family. Although they have not known each other for a long time, the newest members of the football team are starting to form a tight bond.

“I haven’t known the other guys that long, but it is really nice to work with them,” Honey said. “We are quickly building relationships.”

After the disappointing 1-11 football season last year, the 2015 class knows the opportunity to change to program is there for the taking, and Honey is grateful for that.

“It’s the right time to come in, and it’s very exciting to be coach Morris’ first group,” Honey said. “We are full of energy, and we are going to get really good.”

Going into his freshman season, Honey knows that the receiver competition will be tough, but he also knows that he has a great chance to earn some time on the field.

“My expectations are to have some playing time, because I want to make an impact.”


Local DB talks SMU visit, practice

By: Andrew Hattersley

With spring practice in full swing, high coaches and players have started to flock to SMU to check out how Chad Morris and his new staff are running things on the Hilltop.

One of those high school juniors who took in practice and junior day is 2016 Conrad (Tex.) defensive back Younis Sangaray.

“(Practice) was really cool because they had a live DJ and the players were moving really fast so I liked that,” Sangaray said.

The 6-foot-4, 184-pound Sangaray enjoyed practice and then had the opportunity to participate in SMU’s junior day, where he got to quickly speak to and take a picture with Coach Morris.

While Sangaray didn’t get to tour the campus or talk with the entire coaching staff, he likes what he has learned so far about the school.

“It’s a really good school because of the education there, and the football program is in a new era so everything is going to be changing and I like it,” Sangaray said.

Sangaray hopes to make it back to campus to speak with the coaches more after the Mustangs’ spring game, but has not decided yet if he’ll attend SMU or Midwestern State’s game.

Despite being less than a year away from his signing day, Sangaray has yet to pick up an offer and is only receiving heavy interest from Midwestern State.

The rising senior admitted his recruitment has been difficult at times, but he hopes to talk with more college coaches and get his film out there over the summer.


Elgin defensive back enjoys his SMU visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Elgin HS (Tex.) running back Donovan Thomas visited SMU for the first time last weekend and loved everything about the visit.

“SMU was pretty nice, I liked it, I enjoyed myself, I got to know the university a lot better, I really enjoyed my time,” Thomas said, “I didn’t get to talk to the coaches as much as I wanted to because I had to hurry up and leave, but I’m sure it would have been pretty nice because I really would have liked to meet the head coach and the running backs coach.”

The 5-11, 205-pound running back has not had a lot of contact with the coaches but is trying to get their attention and get the conversation started.

“Not a lot to be honest, I was going to follow some of them on twitter and get to know them if they follow me back on twitter,” Thomas said.

Despite not getting to meet the coaches all that much, Thomas did enjoy the practice style, as well as, the rest of the treatment he received while on the Hilltop.

“The practice, I really enjoyed the practice and the intensity and it was up tempo for the first day being back in pads for me that was interesting,” Thomas said, “I loved SMU, it was a beautiful campus, the people that I met there, the players, coaches, the people giving us our tour were all just really nice, and made me feel welcome.”

The Elgin running back will be making the trip back up to Dallas again soon, likely for SMU’s spring game, as well as, a few more practices in the coming weeks.

“I will definitely be coming back for the spring game, and I have to talk to the coaches but I would love to come back and watch their practices,” Thomas said.

Thomas does not have any other visits planned nor does he have any offers but as of right now there is only one school he is focused on.

“As of right now I really don’t have any other visits planned, SMU is my priority right now,” Thomas said.

Thomas considers himself more of a power back but also said it was not as much about the type of player he is but rather took the time to credit his team.

“I think I’m more of one of those power guys, I like to use my size to my advantage, I think I’m a really good football player,” Thomas said, “But it’s really not about me it’s about my team so I really can’t put too much on myself because without my team I wouldn’t be in this position.”


South Grand Prairie linebacker talks SMU visit

By: Billy Embody

South Grand Prairie linebacker Chase Napoleon was recently at SMU for junior day and talked at The Opening about the atmosphere that stuck with him.

“I loved it there. The atmosphere was electrifying from the moment I walked in,” Napoleon said. I really like what they’re doing right now.”

Napoleon sees some of what SGP went through a couple years ago in SMU.

They’re trying to turn the program around and I understand you’ve got to start from somewhere and build up. That was where SGP was a few years ago.”

The 5-10, 205-pound linebacker loved the new plans for SMU’s facilities as well.

“With the new weight room and stuff like that, I’m really interested in going to check that out soon.”

Napoleon knows SMU is aware of the good things going on at South Grand Prairie too.

“Coach Mathis was from DeSoto and he knows about our players and things like that.

The new staff is breathing energy into the program that it hasn’t felt in sometime.

“The most impressive thing was their positivity. They know for a fact that they’re going to get back to the old SMU.”


Local 2017 safety talks SMU, Van Malone

By: Billy Embody

2017 South Grand Prairie defensive back Jeffrey Okudah is one of the best in his class already, but was out at The Opening in Dallas working on his craft.

“Trying to work on my cover skills and getting everything down crisp so you don’t have any false steps in my technique,” Okudah said. “I’m trying to work on my leadership skills and just getting better with my technique.”

The four-star safety said he came away impressed with a recent visit to SMU for junior day and respects what Chad Morris is trying to build.

“It was great just seeing what coach Morris is trying to build there in Dallas. I think he can take the program very far,” Okudah said.

Okudah made the trip with a few of his S. Grand Prairie teammates and it made him realize what a plus the location is.

“That’s a big impact because my family can come down and see me. I’m very interested to see how they do.”

SMU has put a number of defensive backs in the NFL under the previous staff and Okudah knows that’s one factor that he’s paying attention to.

“I’m looking for a school that can develop me for the NFL,” the sophomore said. “A team that can tell me how early I can play, how often and a team that has something set up for players after football.”

Defensive coordinator Van Malone coached Justin Gilbert at Oklahoma State into a first round pick, something that isn’t lost on Okudah.

“It means a lot because a lot of people say they can develop players, but he actually has a player right now playing so he can back up his talk,” Okudah said.

Okudah has visited Texas A&M, Baylor and SMU recently and is completely open without any timeline for a decision.


2018 defensive back visits SMU

By: Andrew Hattersley

2018 Prestonwood Christian HS (Tex.) defensive back Verone McKinley III is a couple years away from attending school but was at SMU’s junior day to check out one of their practices over the weekend.

“I did a tour of the campus, the campus is nice, a lot of money to go along with that, but its nice,” McKinley said, “Practice was very upbeat, they had a DJ at the practice, I enjoyed that, I like blasting music and it simulates the game aspect of being loud and in the stadium.”

McKinley says he did get a chance to talk to the coaching staff, as well, and loves the direction the program is heading in.

“I really liked it, I really like what Chad Morris is trying to do there and his whole aspect of what he’s trying to do with the program,” McKinley said, “I talked to the defensive coordinator, I knew Van Malone when he was at Oklahoma State, so I talked to him, he likes to go fast and attack the ball, I like that about a defense and the whole process that he said.”

Along with getting to talk to the coaches, the 5-10, 160-pound defensive back also got a chance to get a look at the facilities and was impressed with the training room and how much experience the training staff has.

“When we first got there we were in the athletic training room, it looks like they’re doing renovations,” McKinley said, “I liked them, I like how they have a lot of top notch things, a lot of top notch athletic trainers, and a lot of new equipment and they have the same doctor as the Cowboys.”

McKinley has also received interest from LSU, TCU, Arizona, Washington and Oklahoma State.


Oklahoma defensive back watches SMU practice

By: Andrew Hattersley

Edmond North HS (Okla.) defensive back Jordan Prince was on the Hilltop last weekend to tour SMU’s campus and take in a practice as well.

“It was nice, it was nice touring the campus, and seeing the practice was nice, I liked the staff there, the coaches seemed nice, and I loved their policy that everyone is graduating no matter what and overall it was just really good,” Prince said.

Prince was not only impressed with the vision of the coaching staff but also the product that he saw on the field despite it still being a work in progress.

“The coaches were all really nice and they just seem like good coaches, the head coach he was a nice guy, I love the way they practice,” Prince said.

Since the coaching staff arrived on the Hilltop, they have been preaching that the training facilities were a work in progress. It what was no different with the 5-9, 160-pound cornerback and he loved the plans that he heard.

“The facilities were nice, they showed us the training room and how they’re going to make renovations next year and have this indoor practice field, and that was definitely nice,” Prince said.

He is not sure when he is going to be able to visit SMU in the future but he does have one visit lined up for now.

“I’m planning on visiting OU for their spring game, and I think that’s all for me right now,” Prince said.

Prince has also received interest from Kansas and Missouri but no offers from them as well.


Plano offensive lineman visits for junior day

By: Patrick Engel

Offensive line will be a big area of focus in the next couple SMU recruiting classes, so it’s no surprise that the SMU coaches are showing interest in a lot of offensive linemen for 2016. One of them is Plano (Texas) High School offensive lineman Kadarius Smith, who has visited the Hilltop a few times before, but plans to check out one of Chad Morris’ practices.

“I’m going this Saturday (March 28),” Smith said. “Those guys are going toward a new era, and when I was first getting interest from coach Mason, the level of these guys intensity is way higher…[I’m] just checking out how they practice and how intense they practice.”

Smith was also impressed with the staff’s activity on the recruiting trail in the Dallas area, especially compared to the previous staff.

“They’re recruiting Dallas pretty well,” Smith said. “They’re getting the best of the best right now. When I was there when coach Mason was there, it was kind of laid back, just trying to get that one win. They’re in a new direction now.”

Despite the differences between the two coaching staffs, Smith said he “loved” SMU’s facilities and the school itself on his previous visits.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Smith does not have any offers at this time, but Vanderbilt, Colorado State, Nevada, North Texas, SMU and Arizona State have all shown interest. He said ASU is one that really sticks out to him, but ranks SMU high on his list as well.

“They’d be at the top. I love Texas, and it’s somewhere I’d stay,” Smith said.

Smith primarily plays offensive tackle for the Wildcats, but can play all over the line. He prides himself on his physicality and his use of his hands.

“I’m pretty good with my hands,” Smith said. “Once I get my hands on you, it’s pretty downhill from there.”


Sachse athlete talks SMU junior day

By: Billy Embody

2016 Sachse athlete Godfrey Okoye made the trip over to SMU for their first Saturday practice and junior day and enjoyed the visit.

“I thought the visit was good. I had a great experience to see how SMU was and their practice was,” Okoye said. “I had great communication with the coaches. They’re coming to see me in spring ball.”

Okoye talked with SMU offensive line coach Dustin Fry and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp, who both showed plenty of interest.

“They both said they can’t wait to see me in spring. They were really interested in me. They might offer,” Okoye said.

After watching practice, Okoye thought Stepp was a perfectionist and loved it.

“I liked how he worked with the receivers. I liked when the receivers messed up, they had to do it perfect because in college, it’s the next level,” Okoye said.

SMU’s new offense under Chad Morris looked like Baylor’s speed-wise according to Okoye and he likes that aspect of SMU’s offense.

Okoye also went on a campus tour and came away impressed, but more impressed with the staff.

“I liked how everybody came and introduced themselves to me. When I walked in, they already knew who I was,” the 5-11, 190-pound athlete said.

Okoye visited Lamar and has a visit in the works for Abeliene Christian as well.

Okoye has clocked a 4.6 laser-timed 40-yard dash and 4.47 on handheld.

Donovan Duvernay and Devin Duvernay are teammates with Okoye and while they haven’t talked much about SMU, there was some positive reviews.

“I was surprised they both got offered at the same time. I talked to Donovan and he really liked SMU,” Okoye said. “I had a feeling they were going to both offer them.”

Okoye played mostly defense last year because Sachse had to work some players both ways, but wants to work at receiver next year.


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