Friday Focus: The Keys to Finishing Strong

SMU has 21 commits so far in 2016 with the potential to sign a truly game changing class. Billy looks at how it can get done.

One thing that coaches face every year is the potential of losing a few commits to bigger offers or a change in heart by the kids, but SMU surprisingly swung key players in 2015's class to commit over bigger offers and stop almost all of the others from flipping to another school.

The difference between what could be SMU's greatest post-death penalty class and a solid class from Chad Morris and company again is keeping the ones he has committed.

Landing a kid like an Adewale Omotosho or Andrew Fitzgerald is great, but not if the staff loses others like Kadarius Smith, Brandon Benson, Michael Badejo, Corey Rau and other game changers currently committed in the class.

The crucial part of this class is depth. Depth for the future in the trenches, playmaking depth at wide receiver and guys who can seriously put pressure on offenses with their athleticism.

Next year's 2017 class will be a class of 15-18 kids sources have told me so it's important to build depth in this class, land a few key playmakers, and round out the team with some absolute gamebreakers in 2017.

SMU's struggles in the trenches in the past have been well-documented and this year they have certainly taken steps forward, but depth is where SMU will lose games this season and potentially next.

2015 only has two offensive linemen and one defensive lineman that I think can really contribute (outside of landing Deon Green for two years).

That's why SMU must hang on to every commit in the trenches it has. Fitzgerald, Ken McLaurin or Joe Wallace would really add some true depth at defensive line, while the offensive line is pretty set.

All of the skill players interested and committed in SMU is nice, but losing out on a true depth-building class in the trenches would take SMU back a little bit.

I don't see them losing any outside of possibly Smith at offensive line, but you never know in the recruiting world.

To finish strong with recruits, I really feel SMU must make a bowl game.

Hanging with Baylor, beating UNT and being competitive in some games in the AAC will be nice and show progress, but recruits want winning. That's step one.

Another key that really hasn't been talked about is Courtland Sutton. He's the key to landing Omotosho. Omotosho has talked about wanting to see SMU translate their down the field passing here in Dallas and Sutton is proving they are. They're similar builds and would be a great mentor to have in Omotosho's corner.

Noah Spears and Caesar Williams are two guys that would be "nice to haves" in my mind with Williams being the "nicer to have" due to SMU's issues in the secondary. There's no key to Spears. It's SMU being comfortable and waiting on him. Williams it's certainly early playing time. Point to the Baylor game and you can see how Williams might possibly see the field early.

Here's where things truly get interesting. Defensive line has three great targets on the board still. Wallace is a Texas Tech commit, but has still shown interest. I think he wanted his spot reserved and will still watch his options play out. McLaurin is another solid target with a few P5 offers. The thing that made the biggest impact on him is winning. The same will hold true as he goes through his season, visits a couple more games and then takes an official visit. He has to see the winning to jump on board.

One player that doesn't really need to see it as much is Fitzgerald. Why? Education, relationships with the staff, and position played are important to him. Patrick will have more soon hopefully, but for SMU, winning could be the cherry on top and key to landing Fitzgerald and the confirmation that Omotosho needs to commit.

I could go on and on about how and why this class will be great. I'm an optimist. It's already off to a solid start, but SMU's lack of a commitment for a while doesn't mean they're losing momentum. It just means the current team is picking it up in the season. After the year and hopefully celebrating a huge turnaround, SMU will have tangible results and the ammunition it needs to make this class one of the best.

I think it all starts with a bowl game and that could be the first domino to fall in some high-profile kids deciding to commit and round out the class. Without it, the staff still has to sell the vision.


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