The Hilltop Review 6/26

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

After receiving a lot of interest from many big programs, 2016 Allen HS (Tex.) defensive end Levi Onwuzurike has narrowed his list down to ten, one of those schools to crack the top ten was SMU.

“I think it’s a good school, I liked it, it’s a really nice college, there they’ve got a really nice staff there and they’re going to turn it around,” Onwuzurike said.

One of the biggest selling points SMU has is their coaching staff, which has excited Onwuzurike since he met them.

“I liked them they’re really young and energetic, I known for sure I would get along well with them,” Onwuzurike said.

The 6-2, 243-pound defensive end was not as excited about the weight room currently in place, but was looking forward to what the facility would look like in the future.

“They’re pretty good, I liked the weight room, it’s pretty big, they’re not the best but they’re nice,” Onwuzurike said, “I like what they’re doing, obviously they’re going to make an indoor practice field in a couple of years so that works so I like that.”

The recruiting experience has been a good one for Onwuzurike, especially with how many coaches he has gotten the chance to meet.

“I like most of them, most of them are close, that’s always nice but the coaches are very facilitating, and I would prefer to be a little closer,” Onwuzurike said.

One of those schools that has interested the Allen defensive end from the start, happens to be SMU’s crosstown rivals, TCU.

“TCU is very nice, I’ve been watching them since I was young so I love their uniforms too so that’s always a dream” Onwuzurike said.

Another school that battled TCU right down to the end of the season and ended in a tie with TCU for the regular season title was Baylor, who are also receiving strong consideration from the highly touted defensive end.

“Obviously they came up very fast, Bryce Petty, RG III, their defensive line is nice too and I like their coach, coach A [Art Briles], I like the stadium and the practice field,” Onwuzurike said.

Another school that cracked the Allen defensive end’s top ten was Texas Tech, largely due to their defensive style.

“It’s beautiful down there, I like the way they use their ends, they line them up out wide in a comfortable position,” Onwuzurike said, “Sometimes they stand them up so I really like the campus too.”

As Onwuzurike has been drawing so much interest lately, he has also been keeping an eye out for opportunities outside of Texas and one of the first schools that came to mind was Arkansas.

“Honestly outside of Texas that’s where you want to go, I like what they do, all of their coaches are very persistent,” Onwuzurike said, “Jonathan Williams went there so obviously it’s a good school.”

Another school in the running for the powerful defensive end’s services is Oklahoma State University, who has also been on his radar for quite a while.

“OSU is nice, that’s also a school that I have been watching, I haven’t necessarily been watching but I’ve been keeping an eye on them for a while, I really like how they utilize their defense ends and I like the colors of their uniforms too,” Onwuzurike said.

The other four schools on Onwuzurike’s list are stretching much further away from Texas, but have a history attached to them that makes them attractive options.

For Arizona State, they are trying to sell the idea that Onwuzurike can come join one of his former teammates, which is an idea that appears to be gaining traction.

“One of my teammates Christian Sims, he went there so I have an eye open for them too, I like what they do, they have a nice defense and run a 4-3, beautiful campus from what I’ve seen and hopefully I’ll visit them too,” Onwuzurike said.

Looking past current players, Miami (FL) is leaning on their successful program history to keep them in the running for yet another talented high school player, however, they will likely need to talk to him more to be considered very seriously.

“Obviously a nice school to think about and a nice school to go to, they have a nice history too, I’ve watched them, don’t really talk to them much but I’ve watched them,” Onwuzurike said.

Another school that has jumped into the running lately is the University of Michigan largely thanks to their new head coach and what he has been able to do early on.

“Honestly that’s a good reason right there, with a man that has a lot of football knowledge, he would be a good person to bounce ideas off,” Onwuzurike said.

Finally there is Washington, who is almost lying more on the perimeter talking to the Allen defensive end but knowing they need a late push to bring him out west.

“I like their facilities too, they have a nice coach too, they have a nice facility and have been competitive so I’ll obviously keep an eye out for them,” Onwuzurike said, “They seem like they have something working there, if I wanted to go there, they would play me and be flexible with my position too.”

For the 6-2, 243-pound defensive end, this season is going to be about getting stronger off the field while figuring out which school is the best fit for him on the field.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get faster, stronger, and trying to triple my sacks this year, I’ve been working on that,” Onwuzurike said, “I’m going to be focusing on that for sure because I’m going to be playing football 60% percent of the time so I’m not just going to look at the campus.”

Onwuzurike says he will likely not be making any sort of a decision until after next season when he has had a chance to take his official visits.

2017 point guard talks SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 Team Takeover point guard Aaron Thompson and his dad talked with SMU assistant coach KT Turner, who gave him the news that SMU was offering earlier this week.

“We talked about how good of a coach Larry Brown is in history with his players and stuff like that,” Thompson said. “He’s a great person and with all the players he’s coached.”

It was Thompson’s first time talking with Turner, who made a great impression.

“I think he’s a really down to earth guy and has high thoughts of coach Brown and how he runs his program, how good of a coach he is and how good of a person he is,” Thompson said. “He wasn’t really talking too much about his coaching ability, but about how well he’d treat you if you came to this school and stuff like that. It really made a good impression on me that if I went to SMU, it’d be a good choice because of the person their coach is.”

Brown talked with Thompson earlier in the year with Thompson’s high school coach.

“I thought he was a good guy and I just respect him a lot. He’s a Hall of Famer and all the things I’ve heard about him in the past and what I’ve read, I’ve heard great stories,” Thompson said. “I know he just molds people into better people.”

One of Brown’s former players, Aaron McKie, is now an assistant at Temple and Thompson’s relationship with McKie shows how much of an impact Brown can make on his players. That relationship has Temple standing out.

“Just the relationship I’ve built with Aaron McKie and the way he’s treated me in the past year pretty much,” Thompson said. “He just shows me how to get Temple basketball back to the way it was in the old days. The way they let their guards play and run the team, it’s like an extension of the coach on the court.”

Rice, Holy Cross, Temple, VCU, Penn State, George Mason, Miami (Fl), Georgia Tech and SMU. Pittsburgh, UConn, Maryland and Virginia are also showing interest.

As far as a school, Thompson is looking for a family environment that prioritizes the player on and off the court.

After the Lexington Nike EYBL, Thompson really noticed his game was taking off.

“I’m just a point guard that can distribute the ball and score when my teams need me to,” Thompson said. “Probably my jumpshot (has improved most). I’ve been working on that a lot and my scoring ability. Being a vocal leader too because I wasn’t really vocal and now that I am, I can help my team.”

Thompson has recently tripped to VCU and Temple.

Acy talks top five, SMU interest

By: Demetrio Teniente

Out of all the positions in football there are two where confidence and swagger are just a little more important. Wide receivers and defensive backs are in the spotlight more and more. There victories and defeats are highlighted and dissected more so than any other play because the stakes are a little higher.

Busted coverage, a bad route, or a poorly thrown ball can lead to a long touchdown in either direction. That’s why you want those positions filled with confident young men.

“I like to think I am one of the best players in the nation,” 2016 Dallas Wilmer-Hutchins safety DeMarkus Acy says. “I’m not being cocky- just saying what I know. You won’t find a harder worker than me.”

Acy’s confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. The 6-5, 175 pound defensive back is one of the most sought after talents in Texas.

Earlier in June, he released his top six schools (in no particular order): Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and SMU.

It’s a little strange to seem SMU included in that list, especially given the Mustangs 1-11 record in 2014.

“I feel like just getting a new coach helps everything turn around,” Acy says. “I don’t even look at this last season much because I know things are changing. Just look at this year’s recruiting class- it’s pretty good. “

Acy knows a thing or two about the coaching staff. He’s in touch with SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis on a weekly basis. The two have known each other since Mathis was coaching at Desoto.

“[Mathis] is real intense and passionate about football,” Acy says. “I’ve met with him a couple times over the summer and we talk at least once every week. He always makes sure to check on me and see how everything is going.”

The three-star Dallas native also attended SMU’s Junior Day in the spring- where he got to meet Van Malone, Justin Stepp, and Chad Morris.

“It feels like they have rejuvenated the program,” Acy says. “The whole coaching staff is just excited about the future. I like tat the atmosphere is upbeat now.”

When Acy talks about what he is looking for in a University, it seems as though SMU has a fighting chance at keeping Acy in the Metroplex.

“I think every athlete has to be thinking about playing time first,” he says. “So I want to make sure I can get on the field. Distance from home doesn’t matter to me- it’s just whatever situation is better for me and my family. And you also got to think about education and SMU is a really good school.”

2016 CB talks upcoming SMU visit

By: Matt Sanders

Dawson (Tex) 2016 cornerback Mykul Mitchell has an offer from SMU and he will visit the Hilltop in July. To prepare for his upcoming visit, he has been talking with coach McDaniel and coach Loepp.

“We’ve talked about everyday life and about my visit,” Mitchell said.

For Mitchell, getting the chance to meet the rest of the coaching staff is what he looks forward to the most about his visit.

“I want to see the people who could be coaching me the next four years, and I want to see everything in person,” he said.

Along with SMU, Mitchell has offers from Nevada and South Dakota. He is also currently talking with Utah, Stephen F Austin and Houston, making him aware of the quickly growing recruiting rivalry between the Mustangs and Cougars.

“I was at a photo-shoot on Houston’s campus and got to talk with their coaches. They said there is great competition between the two schools,” he said.

There are several factors Mitchell looks at when picking a school. Along with academics, he wants to be on a team that is on its way to success.

I want to be on a football team that’s upcoming,” he said.

The efforts the coaching staff have made to talk with Mitchell have made SMU a priority for him.

“SMU is pretty high on my list because I have a good relationship with the coaches,” he said. “I was also born in the Dallas area before I moved to Houston.”

To prepare for his senior year, Mitchell participates in 7-on-7 because his team qualified for the tournament, and he also goes to different camps to prepare for college.

Although he has one more year left in high school, he plans to commit to a school before the summer is over.

“I don’t want to wait things out because other players might commit,” he said. “I plan on committing in late July.”

Pickett talks SMU interest

By: Justin Gordon

2016 Arlington Sam Houston running back Peytton Pickett continues to weigh his options when deciding on where he will spend the next four to five years of his life.

Pickett picked up his first offer from SMU at the beginning of May and says that despite more offers rolling in, the Mustangs are still in the running to land the talented back.

“I have high interest in SMU because it’s a great business school and I want to major in business marketing,” Pickett said.

Running backs coach Claude Mathis and linebackers coach Archie McDaniel are the two SMU coaches that have had the most contact with Pickett.

”I think highly of both of them and they’re both excellent coaches,” the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Pickett said.

In addition to an offer from the Mustangs, Pickett holds offers from Liberty and Delaware State. In order to give himself the ability to focus on his senior season with minimal distractions, Pickett says that he wants to commit before the summer is over for a number of reasons.

“I think I would like to commit before the season starts just because I’m graduating early,” Pickett said. “I’d like to make it easier on myself by already knowing what university I will be attending.”

One of the factors that Pickett takes into consideration when it comes to committing to a school is its proximity to home and how comfortable he feels with the coaching staff and program.

“Feeling at home is probably the biggest factor,” Pickett said. “And then being able to get my education and compete.”

Pickett says that he does not have a list of top schools at the moment, but that can quickly change as his recruitment begins to pick up as his senior season inches closer. This power back will be one to keep an eye out for as he remains high on the Mustangs’ list of recruits to get in the near future.

Brown recaps SMU visit

By: Billy Embody

2016 DeSoto running back La’Darren Brown has SMU right near the top of his list and took a visit to SMU a week ago with teammate A.J. Green.

“It went very, very well. I was very impressed with what they have as far as the future,” Brown said. “I heard a lot of great things and I was really impressed with it.”

It was a quick, but busy visit for the pair last week.

“We toured the campus and they sat down with us and talked about their plan for the program and they talked about academics and that stuck with me,” Brown said. “You could go to SMU and be set for life after you graduate from SMU. They’re going to be on top of us academic-wise. They said you’d absolutely have to try to fail.”

The DeSoto stars had a 15-20 minute talk with Chad Morris, Joe Craddock and Claude Mathis and enjoyed that.

“They’re a bunch of great guys and guys I can really see myself with for the next four years,” the Scout three-star back said. “The vibe they gave me made me feel really welcome and comfortable.”

Academically, SMU let them know that whatever they’d like to pursue as a major they will back.

“I want to major in sport management and how they broke it down so we can get it done in the classroom was great,” Brown said.

Having Mathis at SMU is a big deal for Brown.

“My relationship is very good. It goes back to our track days when we would get live with him,” Brown said. “We built a strong relationship with him being my track and football coach. It made our relationship really strong. To have someone that I know and am comfortable with is a huge factor.”

Offensively, the staff talked about Brown’s ability to be moved around on offense.

“He would use me as a slot-back, running back and kickoff return because of my versatility and speed lets me go out or in the backfield,” Brown said. “I love the offense because it’s just like to spread we run here at DeSoto.”

The future and campus of SMU really had Brown excited by the end of the visit.

“It’s beautiful. In the future, oh my gosh, coach Morris has some really big plans,” Brown said. “The future is going to be incredible. That’s a new era for them and if I was going to be a part of it, it’d be a once in a lifetime chance. I can tell he has some big plans for the program.”

After the visit, SMU finds themselves competing with some big programs.

“They’re top three. Oklahoma State and Arizona State are also in there with Baylor in the mix, but they haven’t offered yet. I’ve talked to the running backs coach there,” Brown said. “I love their campus and went to a camp there. To play in the Big 12 would be even more exciting.”

Brown wants to decide by August 10 and plans to take additional visits to Oregon, Oregon State and other schools.

“My family wants me to go far to explore some things, but it’s just something to think about,” Brown said. “It really doesn’t matter for me (how far I go) and it’s just a blessing to play at the next level.”

Ultimately, it’s a comfort factor that will land Brown at his next school.

“How I feel and what makes me feel comfortable and make that home for the next four years,” Brown said. “The people and relationship I have with them as well.”

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