The Hilltop Review 9/25

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

Mascorro hearing from SMU everyday

By: Scott Sanford

Three games into his junior season and Refugio (Tex.) quarterback Jaylon Mascorro is already his toughest critic.

The four-star Mascorro is more than happy that his team has started quickly out of the gate, outscoring their opponents 151-26 these first three weeks.

He does admit however that there are some things he personally needs to work on.

“(I’m playing) not as well as I want to be playing,” Mascorro said. “But we’re playing good as a whole, so our running backs and receivers and everyone is contributing, so their good stats make us look good all the way around.”

While the Refugio native is focused on taking his team deep into the playoffs, he is also focused on finding a place that he can call home once he graduates from high school.

Mascorro holds offers from SMU, Houston, Kansas and Rice, but Oklahoma State, Arkansas, TCU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Indiana are just some of the schools that are also showing interest in the duel-threat quarterback.

Despite attention from elite programs in the Big 12 and SEC, Mascorro already has one school standing out among the rest.

“(SMU) is better than any other college that’s for sure,” Mascorro said. “Coach (Joe) Craddock and I talk every Friday before my game. He wishes me good luck and we have been talking about scheduling my visit to SMU.”

The junior quarterback doesn’t have an exact date set yet for a visit, but hopes to make it to the Hilltop soon.

Besides the coaching staff, SMU’s new offensive scheme under head coach Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock is a big part of why Mascorro thinks he could thrive on the Hilltop.

Even with nearly a year and a half to go before signing day, Mascorro thinks he could come to a decision some time before the end of his junior year.

Between now and then, he plans on setting up a few visits and exploring the schools showing him the most interest.

Tennison grabs SMU offer, wants to visit

By: Billy Embody

2017 Bullard tight end Major Tennison picked up his third offer when SMU jumped into the mix after watching Tennison’s film.

“A couple coaches messaged me on Twitter to talk to my head coach and get more information and their phone numbers. Talked to him after practice and he said they were offering me a scholarship and to just talk to their head coach. Did that and got the good news and now I’m crazy happy about it.”

Tennison admits he hasn’t been keeping up too much recently, but was impressed with the way they played with TCU.

”I’ve never really watched very much SMU. I’ve had friends that are big fans of it and I know they’re on the rebuilding right now and successfully getting that program to a powerhouse. I know they were hanging with TCU last week so that was impressive because TCU is stacked. After talking to the coaches, I really like them, they seem like they know their stuff and I’m really interested.”

Chad Morris, Joe Craddock and Donny McElveen all talked with Tennison and made a good impression.

”Extremely smart guys that know football. Extremely nice guys. I feel like you can talk to them about other stuff besides football like normal guys,” Tennison said. “I really enjoyed talking with them and looking forward to getting to see a game and meet all of them in person.”

SMU was impressed with Tennison’s versatility and what the three-star could bring to SMU’s offense.

”They said they enjoyed watching my film. They really enjoyed what I did from a catching and blocking standpoint. I’d fit in to what they need from a tight end being able to block in the run game and run down the field and catch a deep ball every once and a while.”

Tennison still has to do some research on Morris, but his high school coach, Don Arax, knows Morris well.

”I know some. My high school coach is really good friends with him and has nothing, but good things to say about him,” Tennison said.

Texas, Duke, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are all showing serious interest in the 6-6, 250-pound tight end. Texas is the team he grew up a fan of, but that doesn’t mean he’d pick the Longhorns.

”I grew up loving the Texas Longhorns, but that doesn’t mean if I got an offer from them tomorrow, I’d commit. I just liked watching Vince Young and all that good stuff,” Tennison said.

Tennis visited Texas for their game against Rice. He tripped to Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas and TCU for quick visits this summer as well. A trip to SMU is hopefully in the works.

”I’m just playing it by ear. Hopefully, by the end of football season I’ll be able to go with my family and see a game, but worst case scenario, we’ll go after the season and get to meet all the coaches in person.”

The rebuilding process SMU is going through would be something Tennison would like to be a part of potentially.

”Personally, I think it’s great to be a part of a team that could reset how the school is looked at from a perspective of other fans and other teams. I think it’d be really rewarding to have an SMU degree and turned everything around.”

Tennison is very much a team player and his relationship with the coaching staff will be key to his decision.

“I’m not the type of kid that needs the spotlight on him or get the ball. There’s so many ways to shine in football,” Tennison said. “Get along with the coaching staff and build a relationship. No matter what school I go to, the facilities will be great. The biggest thing is getting to know the coaching staff so that I can go to them for advice.”

Tennison doesn’t have a timeline for a decision currently.

”I think it’ll be when it feels right. I also want to get football season out of the way and not make any decisions and try to take away from high school football,” Tennison said. “Right now, I’m just trying to kick butt every Friday night.”

On the field, Tennison is moved from the slot, to outside and to the traditional tight end spot a lot. That allows for other teammates to shine.

”I think the coaches are more confident running the ball my way now,” Tennison said. “I was fortunate to get the ball a lot and a lot of teams are double and tripling me now, which is opening up our passing game.”

Todora recaps SMU visit

By: Patrick Engel

Frisco (Texas) Wakeland offensive lineman Jacob Todora has been committed to SMU since May and visited a handful of times, so he’s no stranger to the new culture around the program. But after taking in SMU’s first two home games of 2015, he’s fired up even more.

“I just can’t wait to be there,” Todora said. “Every second I was there, I just kept thinking, ‘I can’t wait to be here.’”

Todora loved the atmosphere in the stadium, but also on the boulevard. He watched SMU’s newest game day tradition, the Mustang Walk, when all the players walk down the packed boulevard to the stadium. He noticed a winning attitude in the players that he admitted he didn’t find elsewhere.

“Everybody looks like they are ready to win every single game,” Todora said. “It’s better than any other team I’ve visited. I’ve been to two other college games, and it doesn’t compare. The team just looks ready to play way better than any other team I’ve seen.”

Todora’s main recruiter is SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp, but he hears from his future position coach, Dustin Fry, too. He said he’s in touch with one or both at least once a week, over phone or message.

“I really like both of those guys and the rest of the coaching staff,” Todora said.

Combine Frisco’s close proximity to SMU and Todora’s impression of its game day atmosphere, he hasn’t seen his last SMU game of the season. He will visit for homecoming vs. James Madison and likely even more.

“I’ll probably be at every single one,” he said.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Todora plays tackle for Wakeland, but said he hasn’t talked with the SMU coaches too much about his position on the line in college. However, his feeling is that he will play on the interior line. He is Scout’s 62nd-ranked tackle in the class of 2016 and a three-star recruit.

Todora said he’s “100 percent” solid to SMU

2017 receiver talks SMU-TCU, recruitment

By: Andrew Hattersley

The Iron Skillet rivalry had a renewed importance this past weekend, and 2017 Cedar Hill HS (Tex.) wide receiver Cameron Buckley was in attendance to enjoy the matchup.

“It was good; I like how it went,” Buckley said, “It was a big shock, I did expect TCU to win but I didn’t expect it to be the close game that it was but SMU hung in there.”

Buckley was most impressed with the effort that SMU played with and said this is one of the best traits he brings to the field as well.

“I think I could bring intensity and excitement to the game and I could just bring whatever I am told to do and that’s anything we need to do to win,” Buckley said.

As of right now the 6-1, 178-pound wide receiver has offers from Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Houston and Kansas but he has been talking with other schools to varying degrees as well. SMU did speak with Buckley briefly after their picnic this summer but has not talked to him much since.

“I talked to them about a week after the picnic we had up there and other than that I’ve just been practicing with my own team getting ready for playoffs,” Buckley said.

With some of the impressive offers he has received so far, Buckley is not going to be tempted to commit early rather he is just continuing to wait for more offers to come in before beginning to narrow down his list.

“I’m not going to make a decision for a while till I can weigh my options and then I’ll narrow my list down from that.”

SMU commit excited about Mustangs’ future

By: Matt Sanders

Waco Midway cornerback and SMU 2016 commit Christian Davis has noticed an increase in energy on the SMU football team, and he believes the good start will go a long way for the Mustangs.

“In my eyes, it gives them more confidence,” Davis said. “The football they’re playing is good, and they don’t need to look at the rankings.”

While Davis believes SMU is off to a good start this year, his high school team has had some early struggles, but he believes Midway will turn things around.

“We’re looking to pick things up and practice harder so we won’t have any regrets,” he said. “I want to make as many plays as I can at the safety position.”

When it comes to improving his play, Davis knows that it all starts at practice.

“I need to work a lot harder and push myself past the limit I’m used to so I’m comfortable,” he said.

Davis knows that it can be challenging to make a strong first impact, but he believes his first year at SMU will be a success.

“I want to bring energy and hard work so I can make a name for myself.:”

To prepare for SMU, Davis is staying in touch with the other players in his recruiting class by texting and talking on Twitter on a daily basis.

The 2016 class for SMU is almost full, and Davis believes that’s a huge advantage.

“It’s good to commit early so coaches can focus on SMU football instead of having to wait and see,” he said.

Because of SMU’s successful start to the season, Davis believes the first year of the Chad Morris era will be a memorable one.

“This year, they’re obviously going to be better than last year, and I think they can have a winning record if they play SMU football.”

When it comes to who the SMU coaches recruit, Davis believes the guys that get recruited are the hardest workers in high school.

“We work for everything we want instead of waiting for it to come to us,” he said. “That’s what they want the SMU program to be.”

Pickett takes in SMU-TCU

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Sam Houston HS (Tex.) running back Peytton Pickett is becoming a name to remember for SMU fans, the interest appears mutual especially if SMU plays the way they did Saturday night.

“It was a great game, SMU looked strong out there, TCU did well but SMU’s offense really surprised me they were throwing the ball down the field right off the bat and handled their business,” Pickett said, “They didn’t come away with the W but it was a really strong showing out there.”

The 5-8, 183-pound running back focused a lot of his attention on his own position and came away impressed even if it wasn’t as successful as they hoped.

“They looked pretty good out there, I know the running game against TCU didn’t pan out how they wanted it to so they had to throw the ball more which got the job done, their receivers out there especially Courtland Sutton were just all over the field making plays,” Pickett said, “You have to respect that if things are going well you can’t really complain about the rushing.”

Only three games in, an extremely positive impression has already been left on many recruits due to the culture change that has taken place.

“It says volumes just in the short time coach Morris has been there and changed the atmosphere, last year SMU didn’t really seem close to TCU playing how they played, offense and defense, so they look pretty special,” Pickett said.

Coach Morris and the rest of his staff have been preaching to recruits that they are going to turn this around soon, and Pickett admitted performances like Saturday certainly help.

“Anybody can talk but when you show it and when you show us recruits what changes you are trying to make and that you actually are making them then we can get an idea of where they are trying to go and where they want to be.”

Nelson keeping in contact with SMU

By: Demetrio Teniente

Episcopal high school’s Ricky Doc Nelson may only have three offers right now, but he is getting a lot of attention from schools as he enters his junior season.

Right now, Lamar, UTA and Texas A&M Corpus Christi have pulled the trigger while Texas, Kansas St. Vanderbilt Memphis, Nebraska, and Louisiana Tech watch the 2017 point guard closely.

With offers from different part of the country, Nelson says location isn’t playing a huge factor into any developing feelings for any program.

“Whatever school fits me best is the school that I will attend,” he says. Still, he can’t help but mention the upside to Lamar’s offer. “Lamar is in Beaumont Texas,” Nelson says. “That’s where my family is from. I really like the coaching staff and was one of the first schools to come visit me. They really showed a lot of interest in me.”

He’s careful not to take anything away from his other offers though and holds that it is far too early to be any kind of frontrunner.

“I’ve known the coaches at UTA for a really long time and have a good relationship with them,” he said. “And Corpus Christi is a really good program too.”

Almost a whole year ago, Nelson made a visit to SMU before their season got started and was able to watch the Mustangs practice.

“The campus is real nice,” Nelson said. “Of course you’ve got a legendary coach in Larry Brown and their practices are really high intensity. They have a lot of leadership on their team. I though they did real good this past season. I watched a couple games like against Cincinnati and Memphis. I thought they play really good and I like they style of ball they play too.”

While SMU hasn’t offered him yet, Nelson feels that it’s still a very real possibility.

“The SMU coaches have kept in contact with me over the summer,” he said. “I think they are doing what a bunch of schools are doing—I might be one of the guys they want but they are just waiting to see what kind of school year I have and what kind of summer I’ll have leading to next year.”

Rafus getting SMU interest, not offer

By: Demetrio Teniente

Let’s get a couple things out of the way: Andre Rafus was not offered by Wichita State or SMU despite some earlier reports this year suggesting otherwise.

“They are showing interest that’s it,” Rafus says. “I like Wichita state and I like SMU. SMU has a good coach in Larry Brown—they have a hall of fame coach.”

Considering the 2017 Roselle Catholic small forward has over 21 offers, it isn’t too hard to understand how a couple schools could slip into that list. And with that many offers and two seasons left in his high school career, Rafus says he isn’t focusing too much on how many offers he has let alone ranking them.

“I’m really not deeply interested in one more than the other,” he said. “Right now I’m looking at all of the schools the same. I will be trimming my list down next year.”

To have this many offers at this point in his high school career is fitting—he is considered the number one prospect in New Jersey. That’s something not lost on Rafus every day.

“I’m just blessed,” he said. “It’s a wonderful feeling because I didn’t have any of this two years ago. I’m just very thankful that people can see how my game has developed and how I’ve improved, because I wasn’t as good as I am now. I was always pretty good just not this good. I wouldn’t have gotten very far at all without the people surrounding me helping me get to this point.”

Rafus says that above everyone else that has helped him in his life, his father has had the largest impact.

“My dad is my best friend,” Rafus said. “I can talk to him about anything and he can teach me because he was a basketball player too. He played against a lot of good players: Rasheed Wallace, Lamar Odum, Ron Artest. It’s a blessing because there are a lot of kids that don’t have that in their family.”

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