The Hilltop Review 7/31

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

Spears has SMU in his top three

By: Demetrio Teniente

If you read anything recruits are saying about SMU, one word will undoubtedly stand out: family.

Staying loyal to its brand, SMU threw a barbecue for a number of potential Mustangs last weekend—some that had already expressed their desire to join head coach Chad Morris on the Hilltop, while others remained undecided.

Among the multitude of visitors was 2016 Nimitz high school inside line-backer Noah Spears. For some of the athletes on campus, it was their first time on the Hilltop. For Spears, however, it was at least his fifth time seeing the campus.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “Every time I’ve gone to SMU I’ve enjoyed it. I really like the coaches. I know some of the players so every time I go it’s a good time.”

Aside from food and fellowship with other players, Spears said spending time with the coaches was a good time. This summer, Spears has been talking with coach Morris and coach Archie McDaniel a lot.

“I’m pretty close with the coaches,” he said. “Over the summer we’ve built a pretty good relationship—it’s definitely not awkward. It’s kind of like when you are talking with your high school coaches and you can kind of joke around because you’re comfortable around them.”

Spears says when he talks to other athletes committed to SMU and current Mustangs, they share the same message with him that coach Morris does.

“Coach Morris is a really good guy,” Spears said. “He talks a lot about family and how they are going to turn the program around and how they want everyone to be close. I talked to a couple players and they all talk about how they are going to shock everyone. I believe they will. I look at their recruiting class and I think they are going to do some good stuff this year—I’m excited to watch.”

The 6-2, 200 pound linebacker holds seven offers, but has narrowed it down to a top three consisting of: Texas Tech, SMU, and Kansas.

“There’s no real order yet,” he said “That’s just what I’m thinking right now.”

4-star defensive tackle keeping in touch with SMU

By: Scott Sanford

Forth Worth (Tex.) All Saints’ Episcopal School defensive tackle Mike Williams caught those following his recruitment off guard with a subtle change in his twitter bio.

Scout’s No. 110 prospect in the 2016 class, Williams committed to Stanford July 3, something he had been considering doing for some time.

“I had been eyeing them for a few months now,” Williams explained. “When I took my visit, I felt like it was home.”

While the four-star run stopper is fully committed to the Cardinal, because of the schools steep admission requirements, there are no guarantees Williams will be admitted.

The rising senior does have a backup plan, however, which consists of continuing to visits colleges and talk with other programs.

Williams remains in contact with two Texas programs in particular: SMU and UT.

Despite Stanford being nearly 1,700 miles away, location is a big part of why Williams remains in contact with the Mustangs and Longhorns.

“My mom, grandma and family want to come see me play so they like the local schools,” Williams said. “The connections you can make at Texas, and an SMU business degree, go a long way in this world.”

The coaching staffs at SMU and Texas are two other reasons Williams feels comfortable with the schools.

“I talk to SMU a lot and they have been at my school a lot. Every chance they could get to come up here they would,” Scout’s No. 14 defensive tackle said. “And Texas—I’ve been down there twice so I’ve talked to them a little bit.”

Williams plans to take an official visit to Stanford, as well as another visit for the Cardinal’s game vs. Oregon, but he has no other visits lined up at this time.

Other schools may get official visits, but he can’t say yet which programs those will be.

For now, Williams is focused on getting ready for his final high school season.

“(I’m focused on) making sure I make people around me better,” Williams said. “We’ve got championship aspirations so we’ve got to make it happen.”

The Saints kick off their 2015 season against Houston’s St. Pius X on August 29.

South Grand Prairie DB eyes decision soon

By: Andrew Hattersley

It was a big weekend for SMU head coach Chad Morris and the rest of the staff with their big cookout, especially when they had the likes of 2016 So Grand Prairie HS (Tex.) cornerback Caesar Williams on hand for a visit.

“I liked it a lot, I got to talk to all the players and I got to talk to the parents and the other players, and they were all really hyped about how the school is and all of that,” Williams said, “The person I actually talked to the most when I was there was the quarterback commit David Moore, he just said that I would help out a lot and that he had a lot of P5 offers, but SMU was the place to be.”

Not only is Williams building a strong relationship with the players at SMU but he is also continuing to continue a solid dialogue with the SMU coaching staff.

“They’ve been really good, everything has gone really well,” Williams said, “They would love for me to advance my education and they would make sure that I graduate, and would help me with everything outside of the field.”

The coaches love the 6-0, 168-pound cornerback and the feeling is mutual for Williams, he even has a little bit of prior history with the school.

“I love the school, I think they’ve got a great staff there, my step brother went there a while back in around 2004 or 2005,” Williams said.

SMU is going to have to fend off some tough competition for Williams including Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Texas State and Tulsa, but it now appears they will also have to fend of Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma was great, and then in terms of overall schools it’s one of the best in the country and it was a great visit,” Williams said.

If Williams knows what school he wants to go, he is certainly not showing it, as for right now, two things he knows, however, are when he wants to commit by and how many more visits he wants to take.

“I still have my options open, it can certainly open up but that is my top 6 for now, the schools are awesome,” Williams said, “It will definitely be before school starts, I’m just trying to make sure that I finish off all my visits so I make sure there weren’t any schools that I didn’t make a visit to, and therefore couldn’t make a good decision, but the ones that I have seen so far have been great and I still hope to see more so I can really narrow it down.”

It’s also not a secret what Williams is looking for in his ideal school, and these two factors could play a large role in where he ends up.

“Relationships and where I will play and where I will get the chance to play as early as possible,” Williams said.

Williams was also adamant about the fact he still has a season to prepare for, and for this upcoming season, he has been working very hard.

“I’m improving my man coverage, I’m really trying to improve everything, the main thing right now is improving my man coverage and I still want to improve my speed, strength and all that,” Williams said, “I’m training with one of the best trainers in the country to improve that and we’re just doing everything to be the best I can, we’re just trying to get better.”

Jackson enjoys SMU visits

By: Patrick Engel

2016 Amarillo (Texas) DT Ivory Jackson made a surprise commitment to Texas Tech in early June, but that hasn’t stopped SMU from keeping in contact with a player it had its eye on since offering in April. Jackson visited SMU for its private barbecue last weekend, his first time on campus. But it wasn’t the food Jackson liked most. The time spent with current and future players was really valuable to him.

“Just hanging out with StangGang16 (was great),” Jackson said. “And having the players there to answer questions. I asked them about what they do on game day, about school, you get a lot of information about those guys.”

Nearly all the members of StangGang16 came to the barbecue. Jackson couldn’t help but notice the bonds and family feel they had formed with each other and with the coaches, who didn’t shy away from telling him he’s still wanted on the Hilltop.

“It was great. I talked to coach (Keith) Gunn and coach (Buddy) Wyatt,” Jackson said. “They were saying I have a chance to come in there and get plenty of playing time, and they still want me there. The coaches were calling me, saying they really wanted me on campus (for a visit).”

Jackson is still committed to Texas Tech and remains solid for now, but knows that anything can happen in recruiting.

“It’s not high-percentage, but I do like SMU,” Jackson said. “At the moment, no (I probably won’t flip). You never know what goes on in the future, so you just have to go with it.”

the 6-foot-3, 275 pound Jackson is a two-star prospect. He held offers from SMU, Kansas State, Kansas, North Texas and Texas State.

McLaurin hoping for SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

After impressing at SMU’s camp this past weekend, 2016 Denton Ryan (Tex.) defensive lineman Ken McLaurin is hoping to pick up an offer from SMU in the coming days.

“I have been impressed with the school, I mean so far its been great, they said I did really well at the camp and that they would be in touch with me,” McLaurin said,

“I’m just waiting on the phone call and just waiting to talk with them on the phone and hopefully they will offer me.”

So far, McLaurin has been equally impressed with a number of aspects with SMU, especially the campus and the coaching staff.

“I’ve been to SMU like three times, I really think it’s a great campus,” McLaurin said, “It’s great, it’s really one of the great schools, just very top notch and I could definitely imagine going there with coach Morris and all that.”

As the 6-2, 265-pound defensive end walked through the facilities; he said he could easily see himself fitting in well at SMU.

“The facilities are awesome, just walking through the building I could see myself fitting in there really well,” McLaurin said.

McLaurin holds offers from Iowa State, Toledo, Texas State, Nevada, Central Arkansas, Colorado State, Illinois.

With the high regard that SMU holds for McLaurin, namely defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt, the Mustangs might soon be adding themselves to that offer list.

“Coach Wyatt said I am a really good player and that I had a really good motor and that I would be able to do some good things at my size,” McLaurin said.

For right now, the focus for McLaurin continues to be on getting ready for his upcoming season.

“I’m just planning to get ready for the season, our season is just about getting ready to start.”

David Moore talks SMU visit, 2016 class

By: Matt Sanders

Milton (Ga.) quarterback and SMU 2016 commit David Moore was at the SMU football cookout last week, and he viewed the event as a way to meet his Mustang family.

“I thought the cookout was great,” Moore said. “I got to spend some time with the guys I’ve tried to get to commit.”

Moore spent some time catching up with the coaching staff, especially coach Craddock. He also participated in a recruit’s private tour.

“I went on Brandon Benson’s private tour with his family, and he committed later that day,” he said.

The biggest goal Moore set for himself was to gain weight before his season starts, and so far he is meeting his expectations.

“The main thing for me this year is putting on weight, and I’ve put on 10 pounds since last season ended.”

While everybody will be watching Moore’s production on the field this year, his numbers do not mean much to him because he has his eyes set on something bigger.

“I don’t care about my stats that much,” he said. “This year, we’re going all-in on a state championship.”

When he’s not on the field, Moore plans to stay active in the classroom and in the community.

“I want to get the best grades I can and impact my community and mentor kids,” he said.

While some recruits’ lives slow down after they commit, Moore has still been experiencing a fast-paced lifestyle that ranges from summer workouts to magazine photoshoots. However, he has succeeded in not getting overwhelmed.

“It’s not really a big deal to be so busy,” he said. “You just have to remember your values and what’s important.”

Moore plans on taking an official visit to SMU in either September or October, and he believes the future is bright on the Hilltop.

“By the time I graduate from SMU, we should be winning conference championships and going to bowl games every year.”

Ward talks SMU cookout, senior year

By: Matt Sanders

Kempner (Tex.) outside linebacker and SMU 2016 commit Jordan Ward was at the SMU football program’s cookout last week, and instantly felt a connection with his future teammates.

“The cookout was fine. I got the meet the recruits, and it felt like a family,” Ward said.

One of the events at the cookout that helped athletes get acquainted with each other was a rock, paper, scissors tournament.

Future Mustangs also had the chance to have a Q&A session with current players.

“There was a seminar where we could talk with the current players and ask questions like how to transition from high school to college,” he said.

Ward has been committed to SMU since the end of June, and he has noticed that is easier to talk with players and coaches now that he’s committed.

“I feel like I connect with the coaches on a different level after committing, and I have really gotten to know the commits.”

While he is getting the know the SMU program better, he is still focusing on his senior year of high school.

“Our team didn’t make the playoffs last year, so that’s our goal this year,” he said. “I also want to make the all-district first team this year because I made the second team last year.”

The goals he has set off the field will prepare him for his time on the Hilltop.

“My goal is to finish strong academically. I’ve always been on the honor roll, and I want to keep it that way.”

With the 2016 recruiting class almost full, players are starting to get to know each other, and Ward believes that this will show on the field.

“It’s cool to get to know people already,” he said. “If we can develop early chemistry, we can be even better on the field.”

Ward might be taking an official visit in August, and he also wants to attend SMU’s home opener against Baylor.

Although it takes time for a program to turn things around, Ward believes things are bright for SMU.

“I think the program will be one of the top programs by the time I finish college,” he said. “We just have to put the work in.”

2016 defensive back taking recruiting slow

By: Matt Sanders

Dawson (Tex.) 2016 cornerback Mykul Mitchell was a participant at the SMU football cookout last week, and he walked away impressed.

“It was everything I thought it would be,” Mitchell said. “We went to the coaches offices, locker rooms and weight room. It was nice.”

During his visit to the Hilltop, Mitchell had the chance to talk with several coaches.

“I talked with coach Loepp about how many spots are left in the class because so many people are committing,” he said. “I talked with coach McDaniel about SMU life and the upcoming football season, and I thanked coach Morris for the invitation to the cookout.”

Because of SMU’s recruiting momentum, there are only a couple of spots left in the 2016 class. With spots filling up, Mitchell is starting to feel anxious about making a college decision.

“I feel a little pressured because spots are getting full,” he said. “Somebody can commit before you, but it’s all about the right choice.”

SMU is currently tied with the University of South Dakota for the top spot on Mitchell’s list, and he plans to visit South Dakota in November.

“I hope to really know a decision sometime in November, but the recruiting process might not wait that long,” he said.

Although he is still weighing his options, he likes what SMU has to offer, and feels comfortable around current players and coaches.

“Ever since I got an offer from SMU, people keep saying it’s a good school to get a degree from, and I also get a good vibe from the players and coaches.”

While he is still looking at his offers, he knows what he wants from whichever school he chooses to attend.

“The biggest factor for me is what school can help me with what I want to do with my future.”

Pony Stampede Top Stories