The Hilltop Review 7/3

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

Gary says 2016 class will, “never be forgotten”

By: Matt Sanders

Dallas Kimball defensive end and SMU 2016 commit Demerick Gary recently participated in the Blue Green All-American combine in which he was named the defensive line MVP. Although he practiced hand drills and pass rushing drills, Gary got the most out of learning about attitude from a current Dallas Cowboys player.

“I learned to keep your head straight and stay positive,” Gary said. “If you’re fortunate to make it all the way to the NFL, you need to be blessed.”

Gary committed to SMU less than one month ago, but he has already gotten past his post-commitment anxiousness.

“After I committed, I was like ‘where do I go from here?’ but I got used to it,” he said. “I don’t have committing on my shoulders anymore, so I can focus on my last year of high school.”

The current members of the recruiting class of 2016 realize how important they are to SMU, and Gary believes that they will never be forgotten.

“Once we graduate and we’re long gone, they’ll always remember the SMU 2016 recruiting class,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, we will always be remembered.”

A key trait about the 2016 class is the comfort level they have with each other, even though they have never played a down together. Gary knows that the chemistry with the other commits is a big factor because they will go through everything together.

“We’re going into school together, we’ll play together and hopefully we can graduate together,” he said. “I’m going to be with these guys everyday, and I’m looking forward to being with him.”

Although Gary is focused on his final year of high school football, he is putting an extra emphasis on his academics because he knows that the academic jump from high school to college can be more challenging than the football jump.

Because of his location in relation to the Hilltop, he plans on spending a significant amount of his senior year visiting the campus.

“I’m going to some games this season,” he said. “I’m only 20 minutes from the school so getting there isn’t a problem.”


Spears talks top five

By: Andrew Hattersley

Decision time is fast approaching for 2016 Nimitz HS (Tex.) linebacker Noah Spears but his list is starting to take shape.

“It’s been going good, I haven’t heard from any new schools, just the ones that offered me,” Spears said.

Spears is still a couple of months away from making a decision still but his top 5 is virtually set.

“Top 5 is probably Texas Tech, SMU, Utah State, Kansas State and Texas State in no order,” Spears said.

Two teams that seem to stand out for Spears are Texas Tech and SMU with the SMU coaching staff impressing the 6-2, 210-pound linebacker.

“I mean I like it, its close to home so my mom would be able to come watch me play, she would be able to come to almost every game and the coaches are cool, coach Morris, he is a really good guy, coach McDaniel is a really good guy, I have a good relationship with all of the coaches so that’s definitely a college I wouldn’t mind going to,” Spears said, “They haven’t been trying to pressure me into coming to SMU, they have just been saying when you look for a school, look for yourself.”

Family is really important to Spears and the care the SMU staff has shown to his family is another aspect that appeals to Spears.

“We’ll just talk about school and stuff, talk about football, how my mom is doing, they always ask about her so that’s another thing that I like and just I like coach McDaniel and how they operate, they care about me more as a person than a football player,” Spears said.

Texas Tech will not go down without a fight however, as they can offer Spears the opportunity to play in his hometown.

“I mean Texas Tech, I’m from Lubbock, I have a lot of family down here so I mean that’s coming into my decision also when I think about it but for right now that’s pretty much it,” Spears said.

Spears still has a little time to make his decision, but outside of knowing he wants to play close to home, there are a couple of other important factors as well.

“I’ll make a decision by the end of the summer or early on in the football season,” Spears said before adding some of his key factors when deciding, “How the relationship is between me and the coaches, how’s the school academic wise and then I will look at how the football team is as well.”


Four-star receiver set to release top 10

By: Billy Embody

2016 Plano East wide receiver Adewale Omotosho has been visiting schools and even camping this summer and has been impressing everywhere he’s been.

“I’ve been stopping by a lot of camps and I performed at the OU camp a couple weeks back,” Omotosho said. “I’m just trying to get some visits scheduled and maybe a camp or two mid-July, but that’s really it.”

Scout’s No. 10 ranked receiver in Texas picked up an Oklahoma offer at that satellite camp in Mesquite and was impressed by the OU staff’s on the field demeanor.

“Coach Gundy over there and coach Simmons are great coaches so it was cool to be in that and get that kind of perspective to see how he coaches on the field,” the 6-2, 190-pound receiver said.

TCU or Mississippi State camps are up next for Omotosho, but he’s got to choose one because they’re on the same day and he’s leaning towards performing for the Horned Frogs’ staff.

“I’ve been more in touch with coach Cumbee in terms of deciding which camp, but I’m still trying to decide,” Omotosho said.

Omotosho plans to release his top 10 list next week and it will include SMU, UCLA, Cal, Oklahoma State and Arkansas will be included on the list, he told Pony Stampede. The other five he’s undecided on.

SMU receivers coach Justin Stepp has built what Omotosho says is the best relationship out of any of the coaches recruiting him and it’s because of his concern for his well being on and off the field.

“We talk all the time. It’s really great. Coach Stepp is there for me as a player and a person,” Omotosho said. “He really takes into account off the field — not just academics, but extra curriculars as well. It’s pretty cool to see SMU evolve just the same way I’ve gotten to know him. Seeing all the renovations and progress they’ve made and I’m curious to see what the future holds.”

SMU’s offense has produced major playmakers at receiver in Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, but Omotosho says it’s more about how this staff will come together.

“It plays a big influence, but not like oh I can be like them, but just because I know I’m going to get the ball and get touches,” Omotosho said. “It’s hard to know what this staff will do because it’s their first year together and everything. I know they have something blowing up there and they’re getting ready to make something happen. Offensively, I feel like they’re getting ready to make something happen and do big things.”

Something that’s important for Omotosho is to be in the top two on a school’s board because it shows a commitment to the player.

“That just lets me know that they don’t just go out and offer anybody. Once they get their guy, they’ve got their guy.”

Omotosho got to stop by for a camp and watched for a little while, but really got to see the progress on facilities and bond with the staff more.

As far as a decision timeline, Omotosho expects a decision mid-season after taking officials to his top five schools. He’s looking for a couple key things in separating

“First and foremost, academics. That will always be the No. 1 thing on my list,” Omotosho said. “Getting my education and having that to fall to for the rest of my life and which offense and program as far as football will benefit me the most. How many times they throw the ball, what are they averaging a game and all that goes into my research.”

Body control and coming in and out of his breaks have been two key things Omotosho has been working on this offseason.


Mays updates recruitment

By: Scott Sanford

While freshmen guards Sedrick Barefield and Shake Milton are set to join the Mustangs this summer, that doesn’t mean the SMU coaching staff won’t pursue guards to fill their 2016 class.

2016 point guard Skylar Mays picked up an offer from SMU back in March and has since been developing a relationship with his recruiter K.T. Turner.

“He’s a personable guy. You don’t really feel like you’re talking to a coach,” Mays said. “He’s a great person to talk to and I just feel real comfortable talking to him.”

Mays has also had the chance to talk with Head Coach Larry Brown when the Hall of Famer watched him play in April.

“I have the utmost respect for him obviously,” Mays said. “He’s such a big name in basketball so you can only have respect for him, and I’d love to build a closer relationship with him.”

The rising senior has not visited the Hilltop yet, but has a good idea what he’d be getting from SMU if he chose to go there.

“I know it’s a great academic school, and I’ve heard plenty of great things about the fans base,” Mays said.

Mays’ AAU team is set to play in Dallas this summer, so a trip to the Hilltop should happen for the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Louisiana native.

Besides SMU, Mays holds offers from UNLV, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Memphis, Tulane, LSU and Iowa State, and he’s also receiving interest from California and Stanford.

Mays, who is set to enroll at Findlay Prep for his senior season, was previously committed to LSU, but after de-committing, is currently open to “every” school.

While Mays doesn’t plan to commit until the spring signing period, he already knows what time of atmosphere he’s looking for in a school.

“Coming from such a big family (he has seven brothers and sisters), I’m looking for a family atmosphere,” Mays explained. “Obviously I’m big on academics as well, and I take pride on what I do in the classroom. Hopefully, God willing, I’ll be able to get to the NBA so I’m definitely looking for a program that’s going to help develop me.”


SMU signee set to become SMU player

By: Andrew Hattersley

The wait is almost over for 2015 North Shore HS (Tex.) guard and SMU signee Jarrey Foster, who is getting ready to arrive at his new school.

“I feel excited, I’m excited to finally get to this point, I’m ready to get down there and start school, start some classes and start working out there and get in the best shape I can,” Foster said.

After the tough ending SMU experienced last year, making amends for the now infamous goaltending call is serving as major motivation for Foster despite the fact he didn’t play for SMU last year.

“I was watching, that whole call and everything, still accomplishing winning the conference title, the tournament title and then going to the NCAA tournament and playing against UCLA, even with that horrible call, it was disappointing to me knowing that the whole team was so disappointed during that,” Foster said before looking ahead, “We got past that though and coming into this year it’s a motivation to get past the round of 64 and get to the round of 32 and just working hard all summer and all season so come the season we wont have to worry about a call like that that dictates the game.”

Looking ahead, the 6-6, 210-pound guard is confident this team can take it to another level as soon as next year.

“We have talent all around, the pieces are all there, Nic Moore is the point guard, Markus is still there and then we have pieces coming in like me, Shake, Sed and Semi, I feel like our recruiting class was really solid and I feel like we’re the team to beat again in the AAC and we’re going to go really far,” Foster said.

After sitting out all of last season, Foster is also feeling better and better after suffering a torn ACL before his final year.

“It’s great, I’m getting back to normal, day by day I’m getting stronger and I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent because going into the workouts with those trainers, I know I’ll eventually get to 100 percent but the rehab part I’ve done on my own I feel like has been great,” Foster said, “I’m confident going into school that I can play with college level players, I don’t feel like I am not ready or I’m at a lower point because I’m ready to prove myself because I didn’t get to last year.”

Foster is excited about a lot of things heading into his first season on the Hilltop, but after attending a camp at SMU last week, that only heightened his excitement to learn from SMU coach Larry Brown.

“Oh man, I was there last week working the camp and I watched how efficient everything was and how coach Brown wants everything to be right and he wants his team to play harder and play smarter, the coaching staff just works together so well and I feel like it’s more of a family oriented team” Foster said, “More than anything everybody is together and everybody is pushing each other and getting on each other to get better and I feel like I’m going to fit in great with that because that’s how my high school was and for four years I fit together just fine.”

SMU lost a couple of long athletic players in Ryan Manuel, Cannen Cunningham and even some size in Yanick Moreira, but Foster believes he will be able to help wherever this team needs help.

“I think the biggest thing I need to work on is probably, just because I’m rehabbing right now, on the court I feel like I need to get my defense a little better and adjust because I know it’s the college level, faster, quicker, stronger, so my big thing is just to become stronger,” Foster said, “I also think I’m a versatile player, I grew to 6-6, 210 pounds so I can play wherever coach needs me to play and if he asks me to do something, I feel like I can do that and that’s what I think I bring to the team.”


Three-star point guard talks SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

Utah doesn’t produce a lot of Division I basketball players, but the state’s best get a good amount of attention. One of Utah’s best for 2017 is Highland Lone Peak point guard Christian Popoola Jr., who picked up an offer from SMU last week, and it was a bit of a surprise to him.

“I’d talked to (assistant) coach (Jerry) Hobbie a couple days before, and honestly I didn’t even know it was coming. I didn’t find out until my dad called me. I was just excited, getting a chance to play for Larry Brown. Being offered that kind of opportunity is something special.”

Since Poopola has only just starting talking with SMU and doesn’t live close to it, his knowledge of the school is limited.

“Any opportunity like that with someone who has that much experience, it’s just eye-opening,” Popoola said. “Especially since after I got the offer, I got a text from them telling me to keep working, keep grinding and keep staying in the gym. I’m not going to say I value any of my offers more than the others, but it definitely holds weight that Larry Brown is there. That’s just something special to me, it stands out.”

Popoola recently returned from a visit trip to USC, UCLA and UC-Irvine. He has strong interest from most of the Pac 12 schools and offers from SMU, USC, Washington State, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico, Utah State, Princeton and Rice. He said he wants to visit SMU, but doesn’t have a specific time frame for it yet.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard is already a top-level defender, but has been improving his offensive game on the AAU circuit with the Colorado Hawks.

“Of course I’ve been in the gym every day, getting better,” Popoola said. “I definitely want to pay a lot of attention to my shot to make sure it gets sharper and sharper every day. And just working on making reads and being a better point guard.”

Popoola averaged 8.8 points and four rebounds per game on 35 percent shooting on the adidas Uprising AAU circuit this spring. He is rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com


2017 forward adjusting to America

By: Demetrio Teniente

Almost every young kid that picks up a basketball, dreams of playing on the biggest stage, it doesn’t matter what continent you are born on.

In 2012, Green Forest Christian 2017 PF Aboyomi Iyiola left his family and home in Africa to pursue that dream.

“I decided to come to America to study, achieve my goal of playing basketball in college, get a degree, and then the NBA,” Iyiola said. “Of course I want to play in NBA someday, but ultimately I have to work on school first because without doing well in school that won’t be possible.”

The 6-9, 185 pound forward certainly has the skills to attract the interest of college programs, but he also has the work ethic.

It’s true; almost every kid has that dream. But not everyone leaves their native country to pursue that dream.

Iyiola currently holds offer from Alcorn State and SMU—and to him, that’s pretty amazing in and of itself.

“It makes me feel really good because this is what I really want,” He said. “I want to go to college and I want to play basketball. The United States is really good; there are so many things that are there to help you achieve your dreams. So I am very happy that I’m being given the opportunity to maybe do that.”

And where the Hilltop is concerned, Iyiola couldn’t be more impressed.

“SMU has a good basketball program and is very good academically,” he said. “The school that I go to will be strong both academically and athletically. So I am interested in SMU because of those things- I really like the school.”


2017 wide receiver talks SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

2017 Lewisville (Texas) WR Tyrell Shavers was an important role player as a sophomore, and he’s started to pickup interest from several big-name FBS programs. In May, Shavers earned his first offer, from SMU. He admits he didn’t really see it coming

“It’s a blessing,” Shavers said. “There was a lot going through my mind because it was my first one. I was just thanking God.”

The first offer means a lot to Shavers, who said SMU will get a little boost in his eyes.

“They’ll always be in my top schools because of it,” he said.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Shavers visited SMU during the 2014 season, but has not visited since Chad Morris took over in December. But SMU offensive coordinator Joe Craddock stopped by Lewisville shortly before Shavers received the offer. He said he’s talked with Craddock the most out of the SMU coaches.

“When I met him, he just told me to keep working hard, asked me how my grades were, and how I was doing,” Shavers said. “He’s a cool guy.”

Shavers said he plans to visit SMU for a game this season. He hasn’t taken any visits this spring and summer and camped at Baylor last month. SMU is still Shavers’ only offer, but he said TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas have started to show interest, and he thinks two could be on the verge of offering.

“I think TCU and Oklahoma State will probably offer soon,” Shavers said.

Shavers caught 15 passes for 249 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore, good for 16.6 yards per reception.


2017 forward picks up SMU offer

By: Demetrio Teniente

West Lake High school 2017 forward Chuma Okeke, is starting to heat up. With offers from Auburn, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia State, and SMU he is becoming quite the hot commodity.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Most players my age don’t get to experience having a lot of college coaches calling them on the phone- so I try to really enjoy it.”

For the 6-7, 185 pound forward, playing basketball at the collegiate level is the next step to achieving his dream.

“I’ve been thinking about playing college basketball since I was a kid playing in a rec league,” he said. “When I was going into 10th grade, I was working out every day and I noticed that I just kept getting better and better. That’s when I started thinking I had a chance.”

And when it comes to making his decision between now and when he graduates in two years, Okeke will check the programs against his list of wants and needs.

“I’m really looking for how my relationships with my teammates and the coaching staff will be,” Okeke said. “It’s important to see how I fit in with them. Education wise, I want to be an entrepreneur, so the schools business program is important too.”

And where SMU is concerned, Okeke doesn’t know a lot about the Hilltop yet, but that will likely change soon. However, just because he isn’t too familiar with the program, doesn’t mean he isn’t considering being a Mustang.

“Every school that offers me right now is going to be on my radar,” he said. “I looked up how the campus looks and I really like the way the buildings and everything looks—it looks really cool. I just have to keep my options open and stay humble. “

And of course there is also the priceless opportunity to learn under the Hilltop’s resident Hall of Famer.

“I could get a lot out of playing under Larry Brown,” Okeke said. “He is a hall of fame coach, so he knows what he is talking about. All I have to do is listening and do what he says because he knows the way to success.”


Reagor loves atmosphere on Hilltop

By: Scott Sanford

The recruitment of 2017 Waxahachie (Tex.) wide receiver Jalen Reagor is just starting to heat up, but some Texas schools are already starting to take interest in the 5-foot-11, 173-pounder.

The rising junior, also the son of former Texas Tech defensive end Montae Reagor, picked up his first offer from the Red Raiders, and shortly after picked up his second offer from SMU.

After camping on the Hilltop, Coach Morris and Coach Mathis spoke with Reagor briefly about what they liked about his game and why they decided to offer the wide out.

“He said (he liked) my hands and my ball skills,” Reagor explained. “He also liked how I get off the line and that I use my hands and my feet well.”

The Waxahachie product had the chance to tour Ford Stadium and get the lowdown on the renovations that are taking place.

He was especially impressed by the current weight room and the plans for the football-only weight room.

Reagor was not only impressed by the facilities at SMU, but also by the environment that the new coaching staff creates.

“Some camps you go to and the coaches are mellow and nonchalant, but these coaches were very in to it,” Reagor said. “They treated us like we were at a college practice.”

Since his offer, Reagor has been in contact with Coach Morris and Coach Mathis, and the pass-catcher likes the relationship he has developed with his recruiter, Mathis.

“He isn’t just going to act like a coach with you,” Reagor said. “He really is like a mentor and tries to tell you things to help you.”

Texas Tech and SMU are the only schools to have offered Reagor so far, but he is also receiving interest from Baylor and Texas A&M.

As far as summer plans go, Reagor plans to visit a few schools and attend some camps, but nothing is set up at this point.


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