The Hilltop Review

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

Vasher talks SMU interest at adidas gauntlet

By: Patrick Engel

2016 Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider wing T.J. Vasher played in front of SMU coaches last weekend at the Adidas Uprising in Dallas, but SMU may have been there to watch his AAU teammates with the Dallas Mustangs, Nate Morris and Mark Crowe, instead of him.

“No, not really. I haven’t heard from SMU in a while,” Vasher said.

But Vasher, who is also Scout’s 38th-ranked wide receiver nationally and 222nd-ranked overall player, was only referring to SMU basketball. Chad Morris and the SMU football staff has continued to show high interest in him. Vasher had some time to dart up to SMU while in Dallas for his tournament, and he said he is thinking of going to SMU’s spring game. He also visited for junior day in February.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound Vasher said Ohio State, Colorado, SMU, Oklahoma and Texas Tech have shown the most interest on the football side. He’s shown SMU a lot of love, but also has the Rider connection with Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is two years his senior.

“We talk every now and then, and most of the time I talk to him as like a big brother-type standpoint since I’ve known him since I was little. So I just ask him for advice most of the time on how to work through things.”

Ohio State, Colorado, SMU, Texas Tech, Ole Miss and Houston have offered Vasher as a football player. He said Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech have been talking to him the most for basketball, with Tulsa and SMU having offered. Vasher hasn’t decided if he will play football or basketball in college yet, but he seems to be heading toward a decision.

“I’m not getting too much excitement in my recruitment for basketball as I am in football, so I’m just playing it out and see how things go,” Vasher said. “I want to play [basketball] this summer and see how things go for me, then I’ll think more about it after this summer.”

Vasher is focused on basketball right now, even with spring football coming up, and wants to prove himself on a bigger stage during AAU season.

“Just really making a statement this weekend,” Vasher said. “One, as a team we’re here to play, and two, just to come out and prove myself every weekend. Back in Wichita Falls, there’s not as much talent as when you come to AAU tournaments, and I really came to do things people say I can’t do.”

Cedar Hill safety takes in SMU junior day

By: Billy Embody

2016 Cedar Hill safety Michael Clark recently took in SMU junior day and practice and came away impressed with the new era of the program.

“It was real nice. I like the things they’re doing there,” Clark said. “The new coaching staff and everything they’re doing plus it’s close to home, right up the street from my house really.

The former DeSoto High School defensive back knows SMU signees James Proche, Kevin Thomas and Xavier Castille, plus SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis.

“My old coach from DeSoto, coach Mathis, is there so I like the fact that I’m cool with the staff and then I have some players that I’ve played with from the class of 2015 that are committed there,” Clark said. “I talked to all of them about it and they like the school.”

Clark said that practice had a great atmosphere to it, topped off by defensive backs coach Jess Loepp’s coaching style.

“I really like the live DJ. That’s nice. The DB’s coach is pretty cool,” the 6-2, 175-pound safety said. “He’s more of a teacher. He’ll teach you all the different techniques from what I saw.”

Defensive coordinator Van Malone and Mathis both spoke with Clark after practice.

“Coach Mathis was just telling me he was definitely going to be on the lookout for me and that I’m already on the recruiting list. Just be patient on the offers and they’ll start rolling in the spring,” Clark said. “Coach Malone was saying he’s going to be at the school soon when spring football starts.”

With the new SMU staff, Clark said DFW recruits’ minds are changing quickly about the program.

“Before, nobody really thought of SMU being that school, but now with all these kids committed from the 2015 class, going to SMU is the cool thing to do,” Clark said. “More kids are taking visits and bonding to the new era thing that they got going on. I like how going to SMU sets you up for life when you get your degree.”

Clark’s mom made the trip too and liked how close it was to home and the academics were impressive as well.

“I’ve taken a lot of visits to other schools before and SMU really preached academics more than any other school I’ve been to,” Clark said. “SMU spoke more of get you degree and how they were going to set you up for life after football. It was a real family feel because it was close to home too.”

Staying close to home is something Clark is definitely open to.

“I like it because a lot of kids would like to stay close to home, but in the past years there’s not many good schools to stay close to home except TCU and Houston,” Clark said. “With SMU being right in Dallas, you can see your friends and also see your friends while you’re doing your thing.”

Clark said he was planning on going to Houston’s spring game, but instead will visit SMU’s tomorrow. He has Tennessee and Louisville trips planned this summer.

Even though Clark missed much of the season last year due to injury, he’s still confident in his ability to play man coverage.

“Real physical. I like to hit and I used to play receiver so my hands are excellent. My first part of the season, I did real good. I’m already starting (at Cedar Hill) so I’m just trying to do my best now.”

The decision to transfer to the state champion Longhorns was an easy one for Clark.

“My mom lives in Cedar Hill and we were tired of making the drive, but it’s really the coaching staff. I feel like we have the best coaching staff in the country right now,” Clark said. “Our head coach, coach McGuire, he’s the best head coach by far. It’s the school as a whole too. The academics are great and athletics are really great because I do track and football.”

Houston, TCU, UTSA and Tennessee State have also shown interest in Clark so far.

Five-star center not hearing from SMU

By: Patrick Engel

2016 St. Stephens Episcopal (Austin, TX) center Jarrett Allen was one of the biggest names at the Adidas Uprising in Dallas, where he flashed his usual good right-hand hook shot and ran the floor aggressively. A handful of college coaches watched Allen play for Texas P.R.O at the Gauntlet, including new Texas coach Shaka Smart.

“They were the first one to show up [to talk to me] on the first day when you could show up,” Allen said.

“When [Smart] stopped by, we had a workout and he watched me. He talked to us for about 10 or 15 minutes. It was a good talk,” Allen told Scout’s Evan Daniels at the Gauntlet.

Allen said Baylor, Texas and Kanas State have shown the most interest in him, but one team that hasn’t talked to him much is SMU, even though he has an offer from the Mustangs.

“I don’t remember [when I last heard from SMU],” Allen said.

Regardless of who’s showing interest, Allen said he wants to prove himself this AAU season, plus do some winning.

“Of course, I want to win it all,” Allen said. “But really just come out and show what we have. There’s no other goal than to show that we can beat anyone.”

Allen is 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds. The Scout five-star is the 16th-ranked player in the Class of 2016 and second-ranked center in the class.

Crosby running back visits SMU

By: Scott Sanford

The SMU coaching staff offered one Crosby (Tex.) running back in freshman Craig Williams following last weekend’s spring practice, but he isn’t the only Crosby ball carrier receiving interest from the Mustangs

2017 Crosby running back Carlos Grace took in SMU’s most recent spring practice and, like most, enjoyed the new atmosphere in Ford Stadium.

“I liked how their offense looked. It’s the same offense as ours so they went with some similar plays,” Grace said. “It was a good environment and I liked the way they coached as well. It was nice because everyone had energy and it wasn’t just a normal practice. It was intense.”

While Grace didn’t get a chance to tour the campus, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound back had the opportunity to speak with Chad Morris, Claude Mathis and Joe Craddock, and received some positive feedback from them.

“The coaches were down to earth and everything was positive. Coach Mathis was saying I’m special. Coach Morris was a cool person also,” Grace said. “He was outgoing, a really level-headed person and just a cool dude.”

SMU was the first school to start talking to Grace, but since the running back has started to receive interest from Houston.

Grace, who will be a junior next year, recognizes that if he wants to pick up that first offer, he’s going to need to take his game to the next level.

“I know one thing: I’ve got to work even harder than I did last year,” Grace said. “I want to work on maintaining my speed when I get into the open field and breakaway speed.”

Skyline defensive back says SMU has it all

By: Billy Embody

Skyline defensive back Jostyn Andrews visited SMU and loved the up-tempo practices Chad Morris and the new staff have brought in.

“It was real fun. I like they’re practices. It was real up-tempo,” Andrews said. “The head coach seems like he’s real up-to-beat. He sounds like he knows what he’s doing.”

Morris spoke to the recruits in attendance and Andrews recognized his attention to academics, not just football.

“I know football is like the main thing for the coaches, but number one he wants you to get good grades and how SMU has real good academics. Academics will always be first.”

Defensive backs coach Jess Loepp impressed Andrews as he led the secondary through drills.

“Watching him in his drills, he says he loves real physical dudes,” the 5-11, 165-pound corner said. “They coach well. It’s like a whole family thing there.”

Loepp likes some of the same traits in his secondary as Andrews exhibits in his play.

“He likes speed, he likes smartness, but the main thing he likes is physical corners,” Andrews said. “That’s what he wants there and I could see when he talked with his players, he gets in touch with them. It’s not only about football for him. SMU left a real good impression.”

The thing that impressed Andrews the most about practice was the constant activity.

“The atmosphere was up and it was live. It was always upbeat. Something was always going on. In stretches they were loud and upbeat,” Andrews said. “Individual drills: you learned as it went. The scrimmage was fun to watch to see how the speed goes from high school to college.”

Andrews took in SMU’s campus and came away impressed with the setup the football team has currently.

“I like how the study hall to keep up with your grades and everything is in that one spot right there,” Andrews said. “The campus is real nice. I’ve been through there a few times with my mom and everything is real calm. Everything around there is nice.”

On the field, Andrews likes to play aggressive and get in the grill of opponents.

“I like press and man coverage. Speed is a real big thing for me. As you can see, I’m not real big, but I’ll get in your face and press you. Down the field, you won’t really see me get beat deep.”

Andrews visited TCU the night before and is scheduled to trip to Tulsa this weekend. Missouri, Tulsa and Baylor (in track) have shown interest as well.

Sachse wide receiver visits SMU

By: Patrick Engel

SMU had over 300 prospects on campus for its April 11 junior day, but only a handful of freshman. One freshman was Sachse wide receiver Chase Davis, who visited SMU for the first time, and it caught his eye.

“My favorite is SMU,” Davis said. “It’s the education.”

Davis said his favorite part of the visit was meeting the coaches, and he was impressed with their focus beyond the football field.

“I liked how they talked about education more than they talked about football,” Davis said. “I liked the campus, and the people, plus it was a beautiful day outside,” Davis said. “The coaches were talking to me about how their formations work and how they [stress] education.”

Davis already visited TCU, and he said he plans to visit Texas Tech and Texas A&M later this spring or summer. He said that he’s gotten a little mail from SMU, but not many other schools have shown much interest as of yet.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Davis said he felt his first year of high school football was successful. He primarily plays slot receiver, tight end and a little defensive end.

“I’m good at gaining yards after the catch, getting open and running my routes,” Davis said.

China Spring athlete likes SMU visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 China Springs HS (Tex.) free safety Tristan Czajkoski was on campus over the weekend and loved his visit to SMU and finally getting to meet the coaches.

“It was great, they asked me to go to one of their camps over the summer and I love coach Mathis, he’s our area recruiter so I talk to him a lot, the facilities are nice,” Czajkoski said, “Coach Morris is a really good guy, he really cares about his athletes and he had a really good speech to start it off with but I definitely like the direction it’s going in.”

Not only was the 5-10, 170-pound free safety impressed with the coaches but he was equally impressed with the facilities and stadium.

“They were really nice, they got that new weight room and it was really really good, the stadium and the field looked nice, it just definitely looks like it’s on the up now,” Czajkoski said.

While on his visit to SMU, Czajkoski got to see one of SMU’s last spring practices and was impressed with the pace and intensity of practice.

“It was great, I liked the intensity that they brought, they seemed like they were communicating well which was pretty good, the trainers looked nice, everyone was just moving around with that fun but serious level,” Czajkoski said.

As with many players already this year, the coaching staff also stressed the importance of being a student first at SMU despite being recruited to play football.

“They definitely made that point across that they care about school and grades first and that you becoming a good young man before you play football,” Czajkoski said, “I know they are taking you there to play football but they wanted to make sure that they were going to take care of you and that grades were very important to them.”

Czajkoski has heard from Sam Houston State, TCU, Navy, New Mexico State and then a couple of division II and III teams however he does not have any offers yet.

Despite not being able to attend SMU’s spring game, Czajkoski will be back for one of SMU’s summer camps.

Czajkoski has spent a couple of years playing safety but will also work on playing some slot receiver this upcoming season.

“I’m still going to play safety but I’m transferring to slot receiver as well, so I still need to work on my footwork as a DB and then just get better at turning my hips around with the receiver,” Czajkoski said, “Then I would like to work on my routes to make them a lot more crisp “

Corbett ready for a new chapter at SMU

By: Matt Sanders

Plano East Linebacker and SMU signee Austin Corbett attends every SMU Saturday practice. As the spring season has gone on, he has noticed that team is improving every week, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“On the defensive side, the team is getting a lot better with their fundamentals,” Corbett said. “They’re getting better at the new system.”

As excitement continues to build around the new era of SMU football, Corbett joins the rest of the 2015 class in admiring the effort head coach Chad Morris has put into the program.

“It’s a great challenge that he’s taking on, but it shows you what type of guy he is,” he said.

As the Mustangs attempt to rebound from a disappointing 1-11 season, Corbett is honored to be in the first class of the Chad Morris era.

“Every story has a beginning, and this is ours,” he said. “We are going to be a good group, and we are going to show other people in future years that we can win games.”

As Corbett spends more time on the Hilltop, his relationship with other players continues to grow.

“I went on my visit with Jordan Severt, and we have a really good bond.”

While his relationships with the players are good, Corbett is forming a special bond with coach Morris and coach McDaniel.

“Coach McDaniel and I talk a lot, and I’m trying to play some basketball with him,” he said. “I was also invited to see coach Morris speak at the National Football Foundation awards banquet, and that made me proud to be a mustang.”

Corbett has realistic goals for his first year at SMU, and he knows they are possible if everybody works together.

“I want to have a winning season next year,” he said. “We simply need to work as a team and trust each other.”

Versatile Bishop Dunne prospect visits SMU

By: Billy Embody

2016 Bishop Lynch safety Gabe Brace visited SMU this past weekend and came away impressed with the visit.

“It was awesome. I loved the school. I live five minutes away so I see it everyday,” Brace said. “We watched the practice and I thought that was pretty cool.”

Brace can’t really believe that SMU’s head coach, Chad Morris, is back in Texas and at SMU, but it has him excited.

“I still can’t believe that he’s coaching at SMU. Not saying that in a bad way. I think they’re going to be great. I really hope that turns everything completely around.”

Morris spoke to the players there and broke down how he approaches the game.

“How he tried to make it as simple as possible for us to understand that as complex as the game is and how many things can go wrong, if you stick to his four things, that it’ll help you to be a successful football team,” the 5-11, 205-pound safety and outside linebacker said.

Brace plays a similar position to SMU’s Star position and that’s because his staff at Bishop Lynch is always around SMU’s program.

“Two of our coaches always go to the SMU practices so what we do is almost identical to what SMU does. It was definitely somewhere I can play,” Brace said.

Linebackers coach Archie McDaniel impressed Brace as well.

“I love the linebackers coach and loved what they were doing. The practice was super up-tempo and upbeat.”

Tulane, Iowa, Northwestern, Yale, Boise State and Northern Arizona have shown interest in Brace. He is visiting Idaho and Idaho State plus Michigan and Northwestern this summer.

On the field, Brace does a lot of different things for Bishop Lynch.

“I blitz a lot. I set a new single-season record for sacks at our school and that was playing safety,” Brace said. “My speed was the thing that helped me a lot. I just need to continue to work on breaking to the ball.”

2018 defensive tackle has SMU at the top of his list

By: Matt Sanders

2018 Sachse defensive tackle Kendall Pearson took a trip to the Hilltop to see SMU practice, and although it is early in his recruiting career, he is already impressed with what SMU has to offer.

“I really admire how well the coaches handle things,” Pearson said. “The facilities are nice and the coaches make the athletics be just as important as the grades. It makes me want to be a better person and a better football player.”

Although he has not had a lot of time to talk with head coach Chad Morris, Pearson is impressed with the kind of guy he is, especially with how he is turning the program around.

“It really shows that he has persistence. As a football coach you want to give your best effort. If you keep chipping away, good things will happen.”

When it comes to recruiting, Pearson admires how coach Morris stresses to keep local guys local.

“He’s a Texas guy, and believes that Texas has the greatest football in America,” he said. “These players can do good things if recruited correctly.”

When it comes to Pearson looking at colleges, he wants to see what area schools have to offer before branching out to other regions.

“SMU was the first school I was interested in, but I’m also looking at TCU. I’m just trying to stay local for now,” he said.

Pearson got his first glimpse of the chemistry the players have with each other, and he believes that will lead the way to success.

“It just seemed like one big, great family,” he said. “Everything was connected to a system and everybody cared about each other. With that system and effort, there will be championships.”

Going forward, Pearson not only wants to keep in touch with the coaching staff at SMU, but he wants to stand out to them.

“I want to get more involved. I will be at the spring game, and I want to go to the camps that they offer and build relationships with the coaches.”

Forney defensive end impressed by SMU visit

By: Billy Embody

2016 Forney defensive end Corbin Scarber took in SMU practice on Saturday and enjoyed what he saw out of his position group.

“It was great actually. Coach Buddy Wyatt he was really open and intriguing,” Scarber said. “I like the way he runs his position group and how live they are at practice and how disciplined and great they are at practice.”

Scarber was impressed with the commitment the school has shown to the football program since Chad Morris was hired.

“They’re getting the new weight room and it’s already a great facility so they’ve got it going on. They’re updating the new coaching office,” the 6-5, 230-pound defensive end said. “Everybody is really realizing that SMU is on the come up and not just some school that no one really knows about. You can tell how they’re preparing with all the new facilities and the new indoor.”

Scarber talked to defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt briefly after practice and felt he could fit in SMU’s 4-2-5 scheme.

“They play fast and they play hard. Their physicality is really intense over there,” Scarber said. “You can tell they kind of implement that in their defense that they’re physical.”

Morris impressed another prospect during his talk with the group of 300 prospects before practice.

“You can tell he’s about winning ball games and he’s really confident. He talked about the four parts of a bus and on and off the field and how you act,” Scarber said. “If all you got out of us was making you a good football player, then we completely failed you as coaches.”

The biggest thing for Scarber is SMU’s stance on academics.

“They take education as a really, really big part at SMU. How serious they are about getting your grades and graduating.”

On the field, Scarber is relied on by his teammates for leadership.

“Very leader like. A player that’s keeping everyone positive and up and alive and going pretty much,” Scarber said.

Scarber notched 35 tackles and seven sacks last year and will visit North Texas for their spring game.

Rowlett offensive lineman calls SMU “fantastic”

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Rowlett HS (Tex.) offensive lineman Andre Henderson was visiting SMU for the first time this past weekend but came away thoroughly sold on the coaching staff and program at SMU.

“My visit was fantastic, I visited with coach Morris and he emphasized grades and graduating, out of the schools I’ve been to they’ve been like yeah no we want you to graduate but we want you to play football,” Henderson said, “SMU is worried about what you’re going to do in the future and when I was there I had a blast, it was one of the best visits of my life, I’m looking forward to going to the spring game as a matter of fact.”

Not only did Henderson get the chance to talk with coach Morris but he also got the chance to speak with coach Fry and others about his recruitment and the school as a whole.

“I was talking with coach Fry and coach Morris and basically what it comes down to with my district is he’s coming down, in fact next week, in fact I was with my friend Austin Tynes he was with me,” Henderson said, “I can’t emphasize it enough, SMU is one of the schools ever, I want to go to SMU.”

The coaches were impressive but equally impressive was the facilities and culture at SMU.

“The facilities are great, just great, I liked the weight room, the way the cabinets looked, the practice field, the game field, I think everything was great,” Henderson said, “I just appreciated the environment you know, the environment was great, everyone was friendly, it was pony up tempo.”

The 5-11, 270-pound lineman has not heard from many schools nor does he have any offers but he has heard from places such as TCU, none of those however compare to SMU.

“I haven’t from many places, and I haven’t got any offers, I want to pursue SMU, I want to pursue Civil Accounting,” Henderson said, “I just want to get used to that team graduate and be successful.”

When Henderson visits for SMU’s spring game this upcoming Saturday, he said there’s not much he will be looking for other than just enjoying himself and happy to be on the campus once again

“You know what I’m just looking to go to college, we can’t pay for college, I’m just trying to work hard to get there that’s all I want,” Henderson said, “I don’t have any aspirations on the NFL, you know it would be cool and all but I just want to get a college diploma and live my life.”

Pony Stampede Top Stories