The Hilltop Review

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

George Ranch defensive back picks up SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2016 George Ranch defensive back Mikial Onu was one of the first 2016 visitors to SMU when he attended junior day back in February and now holds an SMU offer.

“They offered me, but I missed them because I was testing and he talked to my coach and everything. He DMed me to confirm it,” Onu said. “I’m relieved. I had been hoping for one ever since the junior day I went to back in February.”

SMU defensive coordinator Van Malone made the offer and along with linebackers coach Archie McDaniel, Onu is building a solid relationship with the staff.

“My relationship is excellent. I’m mostly in contact with coach Mac and coach Malone. Coach Mac is my personal recruiter at the junior day so I’ve gotten to know him from that and then since then,” Onu said. “I think my relationship is pretty good with them, but I’ve only been up there once.”

Onu continued on about the family feel that the SMU staff displays.

“It just seems like the whole staff has a brotherhood there and they have a good relationship with each other. They just seem like a family so I really like that.”

While Onu says he doesn’t have a favorite school, SMU is definitely getting the love from the soon-to-be senior.

“I love SMU. They were one of the first schools that showed me significant interest and I really like what they’re about,” Onu said. “I know they’re going to be up and coming this season so I’m curious to see how they do.”

Rice, Army, Air Force, Navy, Northwestern, Nevada, Texas State, Fresno State and New Mexico have all offered Onu.

Indiana, Oklahoma and Duke are the other schools that are showing the most interest in Onu. Onu has a lot of respect for the schools that have jumped on him early.

“The sooner they showed interest and offered me, that’s what’s telling me who’s recruiting me the hardest. They’ve all been pretty on me,” Onu said.

His list of what he’s looking for in a school is simple enough.

“The atmosphere of the campus, the competition, the coaches, the academics and other stuff like that,” Onu said.

Onu is looking to improve on his 53 tackles, three interceptions, 15 pass break ups and two fumble recoveries from his junior season.

Besides his speed and ball skills, Onu is working on the little things to help his game.

“Footwork, technique and hip turns and the little things to make me a better overall player. Just fine-tuning,” the 5-11, 180-pound corner back said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the team grows. We’re missing maybe 13 overall starters so I want to see how the team bands together.”

Onu plans on visiting Northwestern and Fresno State in June, but is also looking at scheduling other visits for this summer.

In late June, Onu plans on committing to a school and plans to release a list of top schools at the end of spring.


College Station DB grabs SMU offer

By: Scott Sanford

Just a month ago, 2016 College Station (Tex.) defensive back Rajah Preciado had yet to pick up his first scholarship offer.

Now?

The 5-foot-9, 177-pound rising senior holds five offers with his most recent one coming from SMU.

Wide receivers coach Justin Stepp visited College Station, watched Preciado go through practice, and then spoke with the rising senior about the Mustangs’ interest in him.

“I called him the next day (after he visited for practice) and he was telling me they were really impressed and wanted to offer me a scholarship,” Preciado said. “I was really ecstatic, and he told me that I have the option to play either corner or safety, but they like me at the safety spot.”

Preciado doesn’t know too much about the new staff or the SMU program in general, but he does know that you get the full package when you attend SMU.

“I know academically it’s a great school to attend. I don’t know much about the coaching staff, but I know last year they had a pretty rough season,” Preciado said. The school is amazing, and their record doesn’t matter to me because this new staff is recruiting new athletes and changing things.”

Preciado, who holds offers from SMU, North Texas, New Mexico, Fresno State and Army, has a jam-packed summer schedule filled with trips to Baylor and Texas, and most likely one at SMU.

With a commitment likely coming before the start of his senior season, Preciado plans to show off his abilities at camps and improve on his game over the summer.

Described as a downhill, hard-hitting corner and safety, Preciado understands there’s still work to be done in order for him to reach his full potential.

“I plan on making it my best summer ever. I know I’m going to gain weight and get faster, but what I’ve really been focused on is making my technique five times as good as last season,” Preciado explained. “Technique is huge from me. You can be a small corner or safety, but if your ball skills and technique are good, and you can jump routes, then you can be remarkable.”


2016 athlete gets visit from SMU

By: Matt Sanders

Jenks (Okla.) safety and wider receiver Dillon Stoner has already received offers from big schools around the country like Arkansas, Kansas and Washington State. While he is receiving attention nationwide, he is also starting to get noticed in DFW.

“My last offer was from UNT three or four weeks ago,” Stoner said.

Although he has not received an offer from SMU yet, he has built a good relationship with head coach Chad Morris.

“I went down to one of their junior days. It was interesting, but I enjoyed it,” he said. “Coach Morris and I have also been messaging each other on Twitter to talk about track.”

This was Stoner’s first week practicing football because of his participation with his school’s track program. Although his season has just started, he has hit the ground running.

“I want to be the best player on the field,” he said. “I want to go out there and help the team win any way I can.”

There are several factors Stoner considers when deciding where to play college football, and all of those are advantages for SMU.

“I don’t want to be too far away from home,” he said. “I also want to go where I can play quickly, whether it’s on offense or defense.”

Although he is not from Texas, Stoner is still within the recruiting area that the SMU coaching is targeting for recruiting. He admires what the staff is doing with recruiting.

“Texas obviously has some of the best high school football players, so it’s big to keep guys local,” he said.

Even if he does not wind up on the Hilltop, Stoner wants to see SMU succeed.

“I have friends at SMU, and I wish nothing but the best for them.”


2016 safety picks up SMU offer

By: Scott Sanford

Since the spring evaluation period began, the SMU coaching staff has been all over Texas visiting high schools and their players and coaches.

Recently, defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt stopped by Katy (Texas) High School to get a glimpse of 2016 safety Collin Wilder.

The two met and talked after practice, and on May 13, Wilder gave Wyatt a call and received some good news.

“He said you’re a great player, he had watched my video, and that I was a player that could bring greatness to SMU football on and off the field,” Wilder said. “He thinks that I can really make an impact on the program, so they offered me a scholarship.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Wilder is just getting to know the coaching staff, and has only exchanged messages with Head Coach Chad Morris on twitter, but is excited to learn more about the SMU program.

“Obviously they really like me because they wouldn’t have offered if they didn’t, and there’s a lot of excitement going on around the program, so I’m looking forward to checking all of that out,” Wilder said.

After committing to Texas Tech last summer, the rising senior decided to reopen his recruitment in April. Wilder has picked up offers from SMU and Boston College since his de-commitment, and also holds other offers from Duke, Houston, Northwestern and Tulane.

Wilder says his de-commitment was a mutual separation for him and the Red Raiders.

“There were a few things that went into it. We had a meeting the day before I de-committed and at the time it just seemed like I wasn’t a fit for them anymore and they weren’t a fit for me,” Wilder explained. We kind of mutually agreed to that, and that’s just the way it was.”

While Houston, Duke and Northwestern have all visited Wilder this spring, he says he has no favorite at the moment.

Wilder does, however, have an idea of what he is looking for in a school.

“Academics are just as important as the football program,” Wilder said. “I understand it’s very hard to make it to the NFL, even if that is your dream, so I want to make sure I have a good degree from somewhere that can get me a job ASAP.”

The hard-hitting safety, who has also heard from Oklahoma State and Stanford, has no timeline for a decision and will now take his time before making another commitment.

Wilder plans on visiting the Hilltop sometime this summer.


2018 quarterback gets first offer from SMU

By: Patrick Engel

SMU dipped into the freshman class when it offered 2018 Southmoore (Okla.) quarterback Casey Thompson last week. It’s only the second SMU offer to go out to a class of 2018 player so far. Thompson got the good news last week when SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp called one of his coaches confirming the offer. He visited Thompson at his school a week earlier and told him an offer could be coming.

“It’s big,” Thompson said of getting an offer so early. “When you get your first offer, a lot of attention starts coming in and coaches notice…The first thing I did was I called my mom and dad, and then my older brother. They were excited. The first person to find out was my mom, and she was happy.”

Thompson didn’t speak to Loepp much when he came by, but he watched Thompson practice talked with Thompson’s coaches at length about his abilities on the football field.

“He talked to my coaches a lot, just asking about me. And he just watched me do drills and stuff like that.”

Thompson hasn’t visited SMU, which isn’t surprising since he’s just finishing his first year of high school. But he’s already intrigued by everything he’s heard and researched, especially about Dallas, and said he plans to visit this summer or fall.

“I like the state of Texas, and Dallas would be a cool place to go to college,” Thompson said. “I’ve also found out that SMU is fairly wealthy.”

SMU didn’t last long as Thompson’s only offer. Oregon State offered him two days later. Arkansas and Oklahoma State invited him to tour campus and come to camp. Thompson said he has about 10 camp invites, but one sticks out among the rest: Texas A&M offensive line coach Dave Christensen invited him to camp, and Thompson said he definitely going. He said the interest from A&M caught his eye a bit more than the rest.

“I just like what I’ve seen from them, and I think College Station would be a fun place to go to school,” Thompson said.

Thompson is 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. SMU also offered his teammate, 2018 offensive lineman Brey Walker, who already has offers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.


2016 forward not hearing from SMU

By: Andrew Hattersley

The EYBL showing has been a tough one for Pro Skills forward Jacolby Pemberton as he and his team continue to struggle making shots.

“I feel like we could have came out stronger, we didn’t come out strong enough as we usually do, the shots weren’t falling but coming into tomorrow we need to get this win to end on a positive note,” Pemberton said.

As for Pemberton, being aggressive is the number one priority for him as he hopes to finish off the EYBL period strong.

“I just need to be more aggressive, more aggressive on offense and squaring up when I get the ball looking at the high post, I feel like there’s a lot of room to drive the ball,” Pemberton said, “I’ve hustled, played defense, rebounded, get a steal when my team needed it, just do the extra stuff to help my team win.”

Things have also been quiet recently for the 6-6, 185-pound forward recently with the SMU coaching staff.

“I haven’t talked to them in a while, I haven’t heard from them in a while,” Pemberton said, “I like SMU, I like coach Larry Brown, he’s a cool dude, a really cool dude, and he knows how to coach and teach not just on the floor but off the floor too.”

Pemberton currently has offers from Louisiana Tech, UI-W, Rice, Incarnate Word, Southern University, Oral Roberts and Gardner Webb.

The Lancaster HS forward is waiting until the end of the summer before he starts developing a list of where he might want to spend his next four years.

“Right now I’m trying to wait until after the summer, when my options are wide open so I’m going to wait until the end of the summer,” Pemberton said.

In the meantime, Pemberton is hoping to continue to improve in hopes of getting some bigger offers.

“I need to get better with my handling and my dribbling skills, just to get tighter on my dribbling skills.”


Team Final coach talks Carr

By: Andrew Hattersley

After a wild comeback that fell just short, Team Final coach Derrick Bobbit was impressed with the play of 2016 Roman Catholic HS (PA) guard Tony Carr and how he was able to lead his team.

“Tony has been one of the best guards here, he’s got the quality that you can’t teach, you can’t speed him up, he’s got perfect poise, he’s got great size, he’s actually just made everyone around him better,” Bobbit said.

Down 15 points in the second half to Team King James, Carr led a furious comeback highlighted by a spinning layup and a couple deep threes that almost netted his team a victory.

“When I say he’s a proven winner, you can see how he was able to carry his team on his back,” Bobbit said, “The only thing he didn’t do was look good and finish off the free throws at the end, but he had expended so much energy getting deflections and getting his team back into it, that he was just tired, but that’s understandable, but he can dominate a game at any time and at any moment.”

As Carr’s game continues to evolve, his coach would like to see him incorporate the floater a little bit more.

“I tell him a lot about his speed and just changing speeds and utilizing his floater a little more because he’s so big and he’s not always going to get to the rim and he’s not an incredible leaper but once he gets in the paint and with his size he can float the ball over people,” Bobbit said.

At 6-4, 175-pounds, one of the best things that Carr does is rebound the basketball and then pushes it up the court, which is something his coach says he would love to see every night.

“One of the best things he does is rebound and shoot it, and rebound the basketball every single night and those are things we actually talk about and make sure he continues to do those things so he can be a little more dominant,” Bobbit said.

Carr currently has offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, La Salle, Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rhode Island, SMU, Stanford, Temple, Wichita State and Xavier.

Wherever Carr ends up, his AAU coach firmly believes he is bound to be a playmaker.

“I think he will be a terrific basketball player with a bright future ahead of him.”


Arkansas defensive end has a lot to learn about SMU

By: Billy Embody

2016 Texarkana (Ark.) Arkansas high school defensive end Nicholas McCann added his eighth offer when SMU let his coach know that they too were offering McCann a scholarship.

“I guess SMU called my head coach and he let me know today,” McCann said. “SMU sent me a letter or two in my sophomore year, but I haven’t talked with any coaches yet.”

McCann said he doesn’t know much about SMU at all and hasn’t spoken or DM’ed with any of the SMU staff, but does know that SMU is a beautiful spot to go to school.

“I’ve heard the campus is nice and the area that’s around it is really nice,” McCann said.

McCann does know what he wants out of his college.

“A good business program, a good environment and good coaches,” the 6-3, 290-pound lineman said.

Texas Tech and Baylor are showing the most interest and have offered McCann, who also holds offers from Texas State, Kansas, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana-Monroe and Central-Arkansas.

“I like the school (Texas Tech) and like the campus from the pictures I’ve seen. I think it’s really nice,” McCann said. “I really like Baylor. They have a new stadium and new stuff going. I’ve heard a lot of good things about both places.”

The rising senior said he has some work to do this spring on diagnosing plays, but he also tries to keep it simple on the field.

“I can work on reading blocks and making better decisions on taking angles, but when I’m playing I just focus on doing my assignment and getting to the ball,” McCann said.

McCann wants to decide on a school before his senior season and plans to visit Baylor on May 31 and has numerous camps he’s going to visit.


Gailliard preparing for SMU

By: Matt Sanders

Mansfield Timberview wide receiver and SMU signee Myron Gailliard could not be more excited to play for the Mustangs after seeing them have a disappointing 2014 season.

“You have to look up in every situation,” he said. “You must have a positive attitude because the past is the past.”

Because he’s been committed to SMU since last summer, Gailliard has seen the effort the coaching staff has put in since the beginning, and he has nothing but praise for head coach Chad Morris.

“He is doing everything he can,” he said. “I like to see the coaches try.”

The coaching staff is already getting athletes in the 2016 class to commit, and that is motivating Gailliard.

“I have to work that much harder,” he said. “Just hearing about people coming here shows that everybody wants to be in the new era.”

Galliard is doing what he can to ensure that he is ready for his first year on the Hilltop.

“I have been working with my footwork and my hands,” he said. “I also have to get my mind ready for the hard work.”

For his first year at SMU, Gailliard has set high expectations for himself.

“I want to make an impact as soon as possible,” he said. “I want to make myself known and not just be another jersey on the bench.”

As for his final few weeks in high school, he aims to finish on a high note.

“I want to take care of business and not fall behind,” he said.

Gailliard is looking forward to his time as a Mustang, and by the time he graduates from SMU, he wants to see the program succeed.

“I want the team to be back on top,” he said. “I want to leave it better than when I got here.”


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