Billy breaks down SMU's 2016 recruiting class on offense with rankings, who SMU is targeting with remaining spots and predictions.
There's a few positions in my first big board that are already full according to sources. SMU is now focusing on keeping these prospects committed and landing the few big fish that are left offensively for SMU. After these top targets, the water gets a little murky, but this offensive class is in about as good of shape as I could have imagined heading into July with the kids committed and targets that SMU is still very much in the mix for.
Without further delay, my first crack at the big board featuring my rankings at each position.
SMU’s only quarterback in the 2016 class has been one of the most vocal commits on social media, helping SMU continue its recruiting momentum in June. Moore committed to SMU shortly after visiting this spring and while initially some thought he could flip elsewhere, it’s apparent that won’t happen. SMU would have loved to have landed Shane Buechele, but Moore was a tremendous option and a prospect that continues to rise and pick up offers. SMU has to work to keep him as with all of their commits, but it’s a safe bet that Moore will sign with SMU in February.
Backup Prospect: Ft. Worth All Saints QB Luke Anthony – Anthony has visited SMU multiple times and is genuinely interested. If Moore ditches SMU last minute, the staff will have to hurry to fill his spot, which means Anthony may be a prospect they have to look at if they need to fill the class with a quarterback.
1. D’Vaughn Pennamon (Manvel, Tex.)
At the top of the list is Pennamon, who was recently named a four-star and moved into the Scout 300, and has interest in SMU. Arkansas is one of the favorites along with Texas A&M, but can a successful season by SMU sway Pennamon to come up to Dallas? Pennamon will have a spot in the class no matter what, but SMU is focusing on other options while he takes his time to decide from his offers.
2. La’Darren Brown (DeSoto, Tex.)
Brown has offers from Oklahoma State, Louisville and Arizona State in addition to SMU, but after taking an unofficial to SMU with teammate A.J. Green, Brown has SMU in his top three and a great relationship with Claude Mathis. Mathis would be his position coach and with SMU running a similar offense and promising early playing time all over the field for the speedster, SMU could land Brown by the time he decides before two-a-days.
Pickett has been wanting to commit to SMU for quite sometime, but the staff’s interest in the 5-8 running back has cooled. Pickett has a bigger frame than Arlington Martin’s Nic Smith, which is why he’s above Smith on my board. Pickett didn’t have the production like Smith did, but Pickett is the more likely to land with SMU at this point if the staff misses on Pennamon and Brown.
Williams is another prospect SMU can slow play since he’s from outside Texas and has Army, Navy and Arkansas State offers. Williams has the most size out of the prospects on this list at 6-foot, 200 pounds. Williams doesn’t possess elite speed and he’s a long-strider, but his ability to be a solid one-cut back could find him in this class.
Long Shot Prospects to Watch:
1. Prosper RB Robert Mahone — Could a big season by SMU and a visit to Boise State actually help SMU? If SMU puts together a few wins and the running backs show some production, Mahone could be persuaded to stay close to home, something he did mention as important shortly before deciding to head all the way to Boise.
2. Stratford RB Rakeem Boyd — With Michigan full at running back, one of Boyd’s favorites is now off the table. Not sure where that leaves SMU, but SMU has been working hard at Stratford and that could win the day with Boyd, who’s high on SMU’s board in terms of talent.
3. Euless Trinity RB Ja’Ron Wilson — No one knows where exactly Wilson’s recruitment is because he doesn’t speak to the media, but SMU has the Yenga brothers and Inoke Ngalo to at least push Wilson that you can stay close to home and have a great chance to succeed. Wilson undoubtedly holds more offers than he reports, but it’s unclear where SMU stands.
Prediction: SMU ends up missing on Pennamon and Brown. The miss on Pennamon would be almost self-explanatory. SMU just isn’t there for a prospect like that yet. Brown has visited Oklahoma State already and plans to visit Arizona State. If a visit to SMU didn’t propel them to the top, it’s going to be tough to land him unless he really wants to stay close to home and play for Mathis. Look for Pickett or Dae Williams to have a shot at joining this class, but a dark horse is Ja’Ron Wilson just because no one knows anything about his recruitment. SMU will only take one running back if they miss on Pennamon or Brown.
The No. 1 target at receiver is Audie Omotosho, who has an incredible list of offers to consider, but also has the best relationship with receivers coach Justin Stepp. Omotosho has SMU in his top 10 along with some other big time programs, but that full list will be released soon. SMU will likely wait on Omotosho to decide for its last receiver spot based on how much they want him along with Devin Duvernay. It’s going to be more difficult than it ever has been to land Omotosho with the schools SMU is competing with him, but Audie has always been straight-forward and maintains the business school and relationship with the staff is a massive pull.
2. Devin Duvernay (Sachse, Tex.)
SMU would love to take Devin Duvernay even if it meant taking Donovan Duvernay, his twin brother that also holds an offer. The electric four-star is an absolute stud and SMU would make room for his brother and him, but not just Donovan. Duvernay has been a big focus of SMU’s recruiting at receiver, but it’s unlikely the talented Sachse product would consider SMU at the end of the process.
Williams is the least likely of the trio to pick SMU in my mind just because he hasn’t been as high on SMU as the other two. With the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and others in pursuit right now, SMU appears to be on the outside looking in for the huge receiver. One thing that could bring SMU back in it is if the other schools fill up at receiver like Tech having four receivers — that could bring SMU back into the mix.
The most likely receiver to commit to SMU at this point is Benson, who has said he is now comparing all his other visits to SMU because he was so impressed. Benson has good size at 6-1, 185 pounds and would be a quality land over Illinois and Kansas, his other favorites right now. Benson could pick up a Oklahoma State offer when he visits, but Benson said even then it likely wouldn’t push them past SMU. At this point, I’d expect SMU to land Benson by the end of the summer when he decides.
SMU has a big receiver that can really run committed to them in Shelmire, who with a little more help on his route running has the tools to be explosive in Morris’ offense.
Long Shot Prospects to Watch:
1. Arlington Bowie WR Anthony Hawkins — This is a player SMU really feels like they can come back harder on in the season and push for him if their other options were to bail. He’s not a bad option, but just isn’t the prospect the ones above are.
2. Southlake Caroll WR Zach Farrar — SMU was the first to jump in here and then the offers start pouring in. Haven’t heard much on this front as SMU has really narrowed its wide receiver search, but Farrar would be a huge body to add and could play the three-back as well.
3. Mesquite Horn WR Jared Atkinson — I wanted to put one committed player on here just for the sake of it. It was between T.J. Vasher and Atkinson, but Atkinson had more interest in SMU than Vasher, which is why he slides in here. Vasher could get upset with Texas Tech if they add another receiver in the class, but Atkinson again had more interest in SMU. It would take a ton to pull him from Baylor, but if there’s one committed prospect to watch for a flip, I guess it’d be Atkinson.
Prediction: SMU lands Benson and ends up being done at receiver. Some may view it as a disappointment, but Benson is a faster Kevin Thomas, but not as polished as a blocker. That’s a win and anytime you land the No. 15 receiver in Texas, that’s something to be proud of. There’s a chance SMU lands Omotosho, but I just don’t see it at this point. I do expect SMU to make his top five and if SMU can be in it when the season starts, there’s a better chance the team could impress and Omotosho could jump on board to stay close to home. The longer this process goes for Omotosho, the better for SMU.
This is my ranking. I like Mitchell’s ability to be moved all the way out wide and also be moved into the H-back position. He’s 6-6, but can hold his own blocking if he adds more to his frame. Hunter Herndon arriving will give either of these tight ends time to develop more and Mitchell needs it in the frame aspect. He’s built like a skinnier Jimmy Graham and while he could have been more impressive in a recent camp visit, with Donnie McElveen’s help, can develop into a stud.
Rau has a bunch of Power Five opportunities and a longer offer list than Mitchell. Rau is also more of a Hunter Herndon mold and traditional tight end. I like his game, but I want to see more playmaking out of him. That’s where Mitchell has the edge and that’s why I have him above Rau. Rau may be ahead of Mitchell on SMU’s big board, which is why we’ve seen Mitchell get his visit pushed back.
Long Shot Prospects to Watch:
1. Pearland Dawson TE Antoine Cannady — Cannady has camped at SMU multiple times and has the size you like at tight end. He’s a little raw though and not as decorated as the other two tight ends with offers from Texas Southern, Army and Navy.
Prediction: SMU has Mitchell right where they want him. He’s ready to commit and if Rau doesn’t commit by mid-late July, Mitchell will be welcomed with open arms. You can’t beat the scenario has for their one tight end in the class right now with these two. If Rau doesn’t commit, I’ll get my way, but will be happy either way with who SMU lands at tight end. As of right now, SMU has Mitchell locked down.
Go watch Todora’s spring film and you’ll see why he’s at the top of my board in this group. He’s projected as an offensive tackle by Scout and I have him playing along the right side and roadgrading players. While others have him at guard, he projects to me as a perfect right tackle that can wash down the back-side of the line and hold his own in protection.
Smith is probably the strongest lineman SMU has committed in the class. His explosiveness will only improve once he’s in a college program, but Smith’s nasty streak is something that immediately jumps out at you just like Todora’s. I like Todora’s versatility more, which is why Smith is just below him.
3. Harrison Barton (Houston Christian, Tex.)
Barton is pretty much ready to go along the interior for SMU at 6-3, 295. Where SMU has really lacked in recent years is adding true size and athleticism along the line. With Barton here, he can quickly step in as a guard and contribute in my mind. There’s plenty of SMU offensive linemen that just aren’t going to get there physically and that’s where I see the 2015 and 2016 classes coming in and immediately contributing over some of them.
Webb is a little leaner and needs to put on some size especially in the upper body to improve his punch and ability to control opponents. The West Texas product committed to SMU over Syracuse and Nevada offers. I wouldn’t look at his 5.67 40-time on Scout’s profile as his film demonstrates a solid ability to move and pass protect. Another versatile option SMU has added in this class.
Long Shot Prospects to Watch:
1. Manvel OL Mackenzie Nworah — Nworah had nothing but great things to say about his SMU visit before he committed to Missouri just days later. If things somehow change with Gary Pinkel at Mizzou, maybe Nworah becomes a late option for SMU. He’s one of the few linemen offered SMU would take and go over their four they already have committed.
2. Skyline OL Clarence Henderson — Henderson’s spot as an interior offensive lineman is already taken at SMU and with programs like Arizona State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, UCLA and Cal in pursuit, Henderson isn’t hurting for options. If things change for SMU, they may go hard after Henderson.
Prediction: SMU is done at offensive line and unless someone gets cold feet, SMU has landed a versatile, physical class along the offensive line that continues to rebuild the makeup of this unit. Well done by the staff.