The Hilltop Review 6/5

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

2017 quarterback talks SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 San Antonio Reagan quarterback Kellen Mond is familiar with SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp from his days at Tulsa, but the latest time the pair talked was last week when Loepp extended Mond an offer.

“He kind of stayed in touch with my head coach and my coach wanted me to give him a call and they told me they offered,” Mond said.

Loepp and head coach Chad Morris talked with Mond for about 15 minutes and talked about what influence he could have on the program.

“They told me I could really be that player to give their program a boost and get recruits going,” Mond said.

Mond is very familiar with Morris’ offensive scheme from Clemson and is a big fan of the system.

“I think he can turn around the SMU program now that he’s in Texas to get Texas athletes, but I think I can fit into the SMU offense great,” Mond said. “They said just like RGIII helped out Baylor, they said I’m kind of the same quarterback and I can help SMU become a bigger name if I went there.”

While some may see SMU as years away from a turnaround, Mond is very confident in Morris’ ability to attract talent and get the offense moving.

“I know that coach Morris is always going to get good talent and that’s what I want is to play around great talent and I know at Clemson, he coached Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins and those are some of my favorite players,” Mond said. “I know he’s going to get great athletes and how to coach the quarterback position and have a great offense if they have the right players.”

Mond enjoys operating in the spread system, which SMU and Reagan have similarities in their offenses.

“They run the spread and basically what we run at Reagan so I think I can fit in perfectly,” Mond said. “The spread is mostly for dual-threat quarterbacks, who have mobility and are great passers.”

Mond expects to take a visit to SMU this July to visit with the coaches and see the campus since he’s yet to visit SMU.

“I know I’ve got an offer and I’ve already seen coach Morris’ offense so I just look at building a relationship with all the other coaches I haven’t met yet,” the 6-1, 195-pound quarterback said.

Overall, Mond is happy with the offer, mainly because of his respect for Morris.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. Like I said, I’ve always been a fan of coach Morris and if anybody is going to turn the program around, it’s going to be him just like he did at Clemson and produce great talent,” Mond said.

Baylor and TCU, who both offered, are standing out early with Mond planning a visit to Baylor on Sunday to camp, but even though the Bears have a 2017 quarterback commit in Zach Smith, that doesn’t deter Mond he says.

Mond was also impressed by a visit to TCU this week.

“I just got back from TCU and they offered while I was up there and I got to meet some of the recruits they are recruiting and tried to build a relationship with those kids so it’s going pretty well,” Mond said.

Texas, Oklahoma State and also Kansas, who just offered, have also been showing interest in Mond. Duke, California, Texas Tech, Arizona State and UT-San Antonio have also offered.

Mond has to get his footwork back in order he says, but he wants people to know he’s more than just a running quarterback. He can throw the rock too.

“My weakness is getting my footwork back and having timing with the receivers since some of them are still in baseball,” Mond said. “A lot of people don’t realize I’m a great passer, who also has the ability to run. A lot of people just look at me as a running quarterback and I don’t want people to look at me like that.”

Mond would like to commit around signing day 2016 so he can begin taking the necessary classes to enroll early at his school of choice in time for Spring practice in 2017.

2016 defensive back talks SMU offer

By: Matt Sanders

2016 Huntsville cornerback Corey Hightower received an offer from SMU Sunday night. His list of offers includes UCF, Utah, and UTEP. Hightower was surprised he was offered by SMU, but is grateful.

“I never thought I’d get an offer like that,” Hightower said. “It came out of nowhere.”

Currently, SMU is near the top of Hightower’s list.

“SMU is third on my list right now,” he said.

Hightower is not too familiar with head coach Chad Morris, but he knows that Morris brings success to the Hilltop.

“I haven’t gotten to talk to him yet, but he’s a good coach,” he said.

With one year left of high school, Hightower is wanting to improve his athleticism, as well as be a major contributor for his team this upcoming season.

“Off the field I want to get faster and stronger,” he said. “On the field, I want to make the big plays and help my team win games.”

Hightower’s list of offers could drastically change over the summer, because he is in touch with several big programs.

“Right now, I’m talking with Kansas, the University of Houston, and Texas Tech,” he said.

Although talks are picking up with other schools, he plans to build a stronger relationship with the SMU coaching staff.

“I plan on visiting during the summer,” he said.

Hightower believes that SMU has the right coaching staff to turn the program around, and he is optimistic on the Mustangs’ upcoming season.

“I would like to see SMU on top,” he said.

Because he is still talking with other programs, Hightower is in no rush to announce his college decision.

“I just want to wait until senior year to announce.”

2017 quarterback building relationship, grabs offer

By: Scott Sanford

There’s a reason new SMU head coach Chad Morris put so much emphasis on bringing at least one Texas high school football coach onto his staff.

Not only does SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis have close relationships with other coaches throughout the state, but he also has built up relationships with players from other schools.

2017 Corsicana (Tex.) quarterback Kishawn Kelley is one player Mathis left an impression on from his time at DeSoto, and the rising junior returned the favor, leaving an impression of his own on Mathis following a recent 7-on-7 tournament.

“His son was playing in the tournament, but he was kind of there to scout me too, and we had just got done playing DeSoto so he started talking to my coach, I walked up, and that’s when he extended the offer to me,” Kelley explained. “They were saying that they think I can be better than (Morris’ former quarterback at Clemson) Tajh Boyd.”

The Mustangs’ offer is the first for Kelley, which the 6-foot-2, 205-pound signal caller thinks could open some doors in the future.

“In my head, this makes me think now that I know I can be a D-I athlete, which makes me want to work harder and get to grinding a little bit more,” Kelley said. “I know they (SMU) are trying to rebuild the program; they’ve got a new coach over there; they’re starting to recruit from Texas and the area around SMU, so I think it would be a good program for me.”

Kelley hasn’t spoken with Coach Morris yet, but Mathis said both he and Morris would be in touch with him again soon.

While the Mustangs were the first to pull the trigger and offer Kelley, they certainly won’t be the last.

The quarterback has heard from Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma this spring, and plans to camp at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, Texas A&M, and likely SMU.

Kelley wrapped up his second spring practice season under center recently, and will continue to work on a few things that will help him make the complete transition to quarterback.

“My arm continues to get stronger. I’m getting faster. My agility is getting better, so I feel good where I am going into fall,” Kelley said. “(This fall) I’m trying to complete more throws than I did last year, get better at reading defenses, and get better at pocket awareness.”

Heading into summer evaluations, expect Kelley, who doesn’t plan to commit until after his junior season, to pick up more than a few big-time offers.

2016 defensive end talks upcoming visit

By: Matt Sanders

2016 Midland strongside defensive end Traver Vliem will visit SMU on June 10. He will visit TCU two days later, and also visit Texas Tech and Colorado State before he makes his college decision on June 30. Although he has not received an offer from SMU yet, the Mustangs are high on his list.

“SMU would be in my top three if I was offered,” Vliem said.

Vliem already has offers from schools such as Nevada, Air Force and North Dakota State. If things go well on his last remaining visits, he could have one of the more impressive lists of offers.

When it comes to the factors that go into his decision, Vliem focuses on the resources a school has, as well as the relationships players have.

“It’s important to see what the facilities are like,” he said. “It’s also important to see how players interact, because I don’t want to go somewhere if I can’t get along with people.”

One of his biggest factors is what the majority of recruits consider to be the most important factor: he wants to play.

“I want to go somewhere I can play,” he said. “I don’t want to sit around.”

Vliem admires what the SMU coaching staff is doing to turn things around on the Hilltop.

“Coach Morris has taken on a big responsibility,” he said. “He is trying to start something new.”

Although he plans to commit at the end of the month, the goals he has set for his senior year could make more schools interested in him.

“I want to achieve district recognitions,” he said.

Regardless of his college decision, Vliem has high expectations for SMU this upcoming season.

“I think they can get seven to eight wins,” he said. “It is very possible.”

Spears recaps SMU visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

After wrapping up his spring, Irving Nimitz (Tex.) inside linebacker Noah Spears was back on the SMU campus for another visit Thursday afternoon.

“It was nice, I always have a good time going up there, the coaches are really cool and it just seems like the program is heading in the right direction every time I go up there, there’s always something new so I always look forward to going up there,” Spears said.

This is not the first time Spears has been up to SMU but every time for him seems to be a little bit different.

“I probably have been up there three or four times,” the Irving linebacker said, “They showed me some plans, I know they’re doing an indoor practice field and the weight room is going to be new and their indoor facility is actually going to be 20 feet below ground, so he just told me all of that and they’re going to get a new football stadium I believe and so they were just showing me all those plans and it’s going to be really nice, I think one of the nicest stadiums built.”

One of the things Spears likes most about SMU is the relationship they try to develop with every kid that stretches beyond football.

“They’re good about staying in contact, even coach Morris is, he will send me a little message on Twitter but I talk to coach McDaniel a lot, he’s really good about staying in touch, he’ll ask me how my day is going,” Spears said, “It’s more than a football relationship, he cares about me in the classroom and outside of sports.”

For the 6-2, 210-pound linebacker it appears to be a two horse race between SMU and Texas Tech.

“I’ve been to SMU and Texas Tech, both of them were unofficial and I’ll be going down to Lubbock again so I’ll go over there and hang out with the coaches and I’m looking forward to that,” Spears said, “I’ll have a decision at the end of this summer or early football season next year is my timeline.”

The Irving linebacker, whom has offers from Texas Tech, SMU, Texas State, Kansas, Utah State and Sam Houston State, has already done enough to impress the coaching staff so he will not be working out at the camp this summer, but he will be attendance to see the coaches once again in a couple weeks.

“I’ll go to the camp but they said I don’t need to work out so they basically just told me to come up there and hang out,” Spears said, “I got a couple friends going up there so I’ll probably just hang out and watch and hang out there and chill with the coaches again.”

The athletic linebacker finished last season with 100 tackles; two forced fumbles, one interception and was first team all district and academic.

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