The Hilltop Review 6/12

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

2017 athlete picks up SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 Henderson wide receiver and defensive back Trestan Ebner is just getting going in his recruitment that will surely pick up more steam.

“He (Jess Loepp) called my coach and my coach called me,” Ebner said. “Coach Loepp and I just talked for the first time after and I liked him. He seemed like a cool dude.”

While Ebner isn’t too familiar with SMU, he does have a family connection.

“Not a lot really. I just know where SMU is. My uncle (Darin Boone played on 1982 team) played for SMU in the 70s I think,” Ebner said. “He played with Eric Dickerson that’s all I know.”

Kansas has also offered Ebner and he is hearing from Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Ebner plans to visit SMU for a camp in July to find out more about the program.

“I really just want to see how the coaching staff is and how they work with players,” Ebner said. “Just see if they’re an energetic coaching and how their attitudes are.”

Texas is Ebner’s dream school, but overall, he’s looking for a school that will help him with the rest of his life — not just football.

“A good education from a school that can help me after football is over with my long term life,” the 5-11, 185-pound athlete said.

Ebner has camped at Baylor, Texas and Louisiana Tech this summer.

For Henderson, who reached the state finals this year, Ebner was a playmaker for his team and if SMU has him slated for wide receiver like Ebner thinks, that could bode well for future SMU offenses.

“I feel like I’m a playmaker for my team whenever they need me,” Ebner said. “I look at myself as a team player where I do the little things to help like picking up the extra blocks. I really want to improve my speed and route running.”

Ebner caught 40 passes for 918 yards and 11 touchdowns, while recording 68 tackles and four interceptions from the secondary during his big sophomore season.

Oklahoma defensive back recaps SMU camp

By: Matt Sanders

Santa Fe (Okla.) 2016 cornerback Delwin Richard participated in an SMU football camp, and his experience on the Hilltop leaves him optimistic about SMU.

“It’s the best camp I’ve been to,” Richard said. “All they did was focus on football.”

While at the camp, Richard had opportunities to talk with the SMU coaching staff, including defensive backs coach Jess Loepp.

“Coach Loepp said he would most definitely visit my high school,” he said.

Richard’s recruiting process is starting to pick up, as he is talking with several big programs.

“I’m talking with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, UNT and Arkansas State.”

When looking at factors that go into his college decision, he understands that college is more than football.

“Education is the number one thing for me because football doesn’t last forever,” he said.

Another major factor that he considers is the coaching, and he is impressed with head coach Chad Morris.

“Coach Morris is really determined and I love the confidence he has,” he said. “SMU could do something really special.”

Because of his camp experience and his relationship with the coaches, SMU ranks high on Richard’s list.

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

Although his recruitment is starting to pick up the pace, he is in no rush to decide on a school.

“I want to wait out my commitment so I can see my other options,” he said.

Although it is still to be determined where Richard plays in college, he wants SMU to return to the glory days.

“I wish nothing but the best for SMU,” he said. “I like watching old highlights, and it would be really great for them to get back to that level.”

2016 linebacker talks SMU interest

By: Andrew Hattersley

This past weekend was a time for many players to show what they had to the SMU coaching staff, and it was no different for 2016 Skyline HS (Tex.) linebacker Danzell Sims

“The SMU camp was very good, everything went very well, I liked all the drills we did, the individuals drills really helped with my footwork,” Sims said, “Some of the drills were kind of complicated for me at first but once I got them down I was one of the best at them, because I am very coachable.”

Sims also got the chance to get to know the SMU coaching staff and how they work with players on a daily basis.

“I like the coaching staff, they were all great out there like coach McDaniel, they just take the time to really break down things and actually work with you so I really like them,” Sims said.

Last weekend was also a chance for many players to get an idea of what the facilities look like now, as well as, what they’re going to look like in the future.

“I really liked them they were really nice, the practice field we were on was really nice, I like the weight room too, it was very advanced, the locker rooms were very nice,” Sims said, “He told me they were adding a game room, like in the locker room they were adding a ping pong table, and a game area where we could hang out but that’s all they told me they were going to do, and they told me they were building another practice field.”

Sims led all juniors on Skyline in tackles and finished third overall in tackling but still is waiting for that offer from SMU and other schools.

“Actually I do still hope for an offer but they told me to stay in contact with them on Twitter and then they will evaluate me in my first three games and that’s when they will make a decision,” Sims said.

The coaches will have another chance to evaluate the underrated 6-1, 194-pound linebacker as he will be back for another camp later this summer.

“I can’t think about what date but my mom already signed me up for another camp that I have in a couple weeks,” Sims said.

Sims does not have any offers yet but has been hearing from Missouri, Washington, Kansas, UTSA, Abilene Christian, as well as, SMU.

For now there is no timeline for the Skyline linebacker as he is just going to take his time to assess his options before even developing a list of schools.

“When I start taking my visits, that’s when I’ll like decide or focus on which school I really want to go to,” Sims said, “Just to see more of the coaching staff and be more around the campus would be really awesome.”

2016 corner back looking at options

By: Billy Embody

2016 Duncanville corner back Bailey Phillips has recently decommitted from Tennessee and has been in contact with SMU lately.

“I talked to coach Mathis from DeSoto. He came to visit me during the spring and then we talked later a little bit,” Phillips said.

The former DeSoto coach is now SMU’s running backs coach and many of the local prospects have met Mathis and know him.

“We have a pretty good bond. I know him from being in the DeSoto area. I can say he’s somewhat of a role model,” the 5-8, 167-pound corner said.

Even with a connection to Mathis, his recruitment is wide open and there isn’t a school with an edge.

“Right now, everyone is on the same playing field. I’m not putting anyone ahead of another,” Phillips said. “I like anyone who has interest in me.”

Kevin Thomas, Eric Sutton and Patrick Jones are all friends of Phillips’ and he’s been getting good reviews on the new staff.

“I like the way they’ve changed everything around with the Clemson coach coming. I just see the program turning around,” Phillips said. “I have friends that are going there now and are saying good things, but I haven’t seen any film lately.”

Phillips hasn’t talked with any of the defensive staff yet, but is also getting interest from Texas, Florida, Texas Tech and others are in pursuit of the Tennessee decommit.

“I’m looking for a system that fits the way I play — a good secondary,” Phillips said. “A family, that’s key and just overall a good coaching staff and feel and vibe that they send.”

LSU will get a visit from Phillips in July and plans to schedule other schools as well.

The school that ultimately lands Phillips’ signature will be getting a corner that plays bigger than his size.

“A very physical corner that runs a 4.5. I have a very good ball skills from what coaches tell me,” Phillips said. “I’m very technique-savy and I know the game pretty well. I just play like it’s my last game every game and I work really, really hard.”

2017 wide receiver camps at SMU

By: Matt Sanders and Justin Gordon

2017 McGregor (Tex.) wide receiver Andrew Taylor continues to gain interest from a number of schools, including SMU.

Taylor recently camped at SMU and to say he enjoyed it is an understatement.

“The SMU camp was a great learning experience! The coaches there are great, they know their stuff,” Taylor said. “The SMU camp is like no other camp I have ever been to. I got so many reps in 1-on-1 and 7-on-7. It was a great camp and I will definitely attend another next year.”

Taylor had nothing but praise for head coach Chad Morris, and he wants nothing but success for the Mustangs this season.

“I enjoyed listening to what coach Morris had to say at camp,” he said. “I want SMU to have a winning season, and they are headed in the right direction.”

Through a mutual friend, Taylor knew running backs coach Claude Mathis, and he spent time during camp to talk with him about his performance.

“I asked how I was doing, and he said I was doing well,” he said.

Taylor finished his sophomore season with 36 catches for 535 yards and four touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball and tallied 59 tackles with three interceptions and four fumble recoveries on defense. Taylor also picked up first team All-District honors for wide receiver, too.

Taylor says that the recruiting process is going slow at the moment, but he expects it to pick up. At the moment, Taylor says that SMU and North Texas are two schools that have expressed interest in him.

“The schools that I have interest in are SMU, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma St., and Arkansas,” Taylor said. “Other schools I have interest in are West Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State, and California University-Berkeley. It would be an honor to be offered by SMU, and they would be really high up if offered.”

The only junior day that Taylor has attended is the day at SMU last weekend. Taylor’s primary factor when it comes to choosing a school is its proximity to home. He says that he is confident in his abilities among other things, which sets him apart from other players around the country.

“The type of player they will get is a fully committed hard working athlete that loves the game of football,” Taylor says about his qualities. “On the field I am the receiver that they can count on when they need an important 1st down or a bomb down field. I am confident in my hands and a smart route running receiver.”

Taylor’s spring football didn’t consist of much, but 7-on-7 tournaments in which McGregor qualified for state. Moving forward, Taylor has a list of goals that he’d like to accomplish as his junior season approaches.

“I am always working on becoming faster and stronger. Speed and strength are very important things being a wide receiver,” Taylor said. “I plan to continue to improve academically. My freshman year, I had a 96 overall grade-point average. My sophomore year, I improved and had a 99 average. I want to continue that trend. On the football field I want to go deep into the playoffs for the next two years and have progressively better seasons at receiver. I'd love to have a 1,000 yard season.”

Wilmer Hutchins athlete talks SMU camp

By: Justin Gordon

2017 Wide receiver/defensive back Herb Sparks from Dallas (Tex.) Wilmer-Hutchins has become more than familiar with SMU and its facilities lately. Sparks attended a camp over the weekend and on Wednesday, June 10, too.

“I loved both of the camps, I believe that I performed well and I felt as if I was the best in my class,” the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Sparks said. “My favorite part about the camps were getting to meet the SMU coaching staff and tour the facilities. I caught the eye of the wide receiver coach, (Stepp) and he told me that he wants me back for the camp on the 25th of June.”

Aside from from learning technique things from the camp, Sparks says that the camp also increased his interest in SMU for a number of reasons.

”I’m interested in MSU because they’re coaches that make you feel at home, you can really see the true love, some schools just talk to get you there,” Sparks said.

The junior says that for the most part, the recruiting process is going a little slower than anticipated, but he expects that notion to change as the summer gets deeper and his season begins this fall.

Sparks is a player that is under the radar, so-to-speak, which may explain the lack of recruiting he’s seen so far. He missed his entire sophomore season because of a broken Tibia and Fibula. That hasn’t hindered Sparks’ mindset, though.

Instead of viewing the injury as a setback, he has used it for motivation.

“I don’t let things come to me, I go and get them,” he said. “I am a go-getter and I’m ready to play football again.”

Because Hutchins is a Class 4A school, is doesn’t participate in spring football, but Sparks and his teammates have been participating in 7-on-7 tournaments.

“That’s been going great,” Sparks said about the 7-on-7 play. “We are expecting to go to State Qualifying Tournament in July at Texas A&M, July 10-12. And aside from that, we’ve just been hitting the weight room this summer.”

Sparks says that he has a list of things that he’d like to improve on not only this summer, but for the remainder of his high school career. One of those things involves making plays on the ball, which is a vital trait at corner and receiver.

“I'm looking to get better in every spot. Every athlete should want to get better everyday no matter what,” Sparks said. “But mainly my jump ball game—the ability to go up and get the ball.”

Sparks says that he will continue to work and dedicate himself to perfecting his craft at receiver and corner, but ultimately, he’s not worried about the offers. He says they will come.

“I’ve just been praying and working until that first offers roll in,” Sparks said. “I’m hoping it does by the time that school starts back, but it’s all in God’s hands.”

2018 quarterback enjoys camp experience

By: Billy Embody

2018 Wichita Falls Rider quarterback Jorge Vargas headed over to SMU for two of the team’s camps in the past week and thought he had a solid showing. “The camp was really nice. It was a great experience for me to go out there and I think I did really good,” Vargas said. “It was a good camp. I learned a lot there.”

Vargas was happy with the drills the staff brought out and was impressed with offensive coordinator Joe Craddock.

“He’s a really good coach. He’s an exciting coach. He brings excitement to the field and you know he’s there for you,” Vargas said.

SMU head coach Chad Morris also impressed Vargas during his brief time around him.

“I think that he has a really good shot to turn that program around. He sounds like the man and the real deal,” the 6-1, 200-pound quarterback said.

Vargas hit the Sam Houston satellite camp Thursday morning and is planning North Texas and Southeastern Oklahoma among his camp visits this summer.

This fall, Vargas will battle it out for the starting quarterback spot this year with two rising juniors.

“I’m a really smart quarterback and I have really good accuracy and those are my strengths,” Vargas said.

2018 quarterback talks SMU visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

While still years away from picking a school, the focus for 2018 South Garland HS (Tex.) quarterback Caleb Dabney was on getting better, it was a goal he felt the SMU camp certainly helped him accomplish.

“I thought the SMU camp was a pretty good organized camp, I really enjoyed working with the coaches and the players so I could learn a new technique on my throwing,” Dabney said, “What I should do to always keep my elbow up high and where I should work at to make myself better at my position and get better.”

The 5-10, 165-pound dual-threat quarterback also built up a good relationship with the SMU coaching staff.

“I thought they were really good coaches and I thought they really did know what they were talking about,” Dabney said, “They actually cared about how we were going to get better and wanted us to get better, and I thought it was a really good camp and I had a really great time with it.”

One thing that impressed Dabney the most, was SMU’s facilities and how close it was to home as well.

“I really like their facilities, I really liked their stadium, their practice field, I really liked all their facilities, I think it’s a good school and nice to have in a hometown,” Dabney said.

SMU will have the advantage of being able to sell Dabney on being close to home, however, it is by no means a requirement for him to stay in Texas.

“Oh no, because if I have a full paid scholarship I’m happy to have a scholarship no matter where it is in the country,” Dabney said.

Dabney has been busy this spring talking to a number of schools; however, he was still able to perform on the field with the increased activity.

“No other offers, I have heard from a lot of colleges that have been calling my dad so we’re all busy,” Dabney said, “My spring went very well, I think I took a big step from freshman year varsity and getting to work on the practice field, and now in our spring game, I had one 46 yard touchdown.”

After liking the camp so much, Dabney certainly plans to be back again for another camp, but for now he knows what he has to work on.

“Footwork, foot placement, always keeping my elbow high, because if I allow my elbow to drop then the ball is going to go short, I want my leading foot towards the receiver I’m throwing to and I want to keep my elbow high so I can throw harder,” Dabney said.

Down the road, Dabney will also be looking for a school with a solid reputation academically, something he believes SMU has.

“I’m not quite sure yet, I’m mainly planning on majoring in engineering, or I may go into Business Management, it all depends, I’m still waiting on that to make a decision yet,” Dabney said, “I would like to have to a good education, I know SMU has got a good education, I wouldn’t mind going there.”

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