The Hilltop Review 10/9

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

Rock still firmly committed, recaps visit

By: Matt Sanders

Cypress Ranch quarterback and 2016 SMU defensive back commit Collin Rock took in the SMU-East Carolina game, and although the game did not go according to plan, Rock still has faith in the Mustangs.

“It definitely was not the outcome we wanted, but you can tell the team is right there,” Rock said. “There’s a lot of energy around the whole thing.”

Although some of the games for SMU this year have been disappointing, Rock believes that it is not too late for them to turn things around.

“Coach Morris is doing something great up there, and like I said, we’re right on the edge of being a great football team,” he said.

Rock is firm on his commitment to SMU, and he gives credit to not only the school, but to coach Morris as to why he will stay committed.

“The atmosphere, campus and mostly the future I see up there with coach Morris is what makes me want to stay committed.”

Although his free time is limited, Rock plans to come to one more SMU game this season.

“With my football schedule and SMU’s schedule, the only other game I think I can go to is Tulane, so I’m going to try and get up to that one,” he said.

During his visit to the Hilltop, Rock took advantage of opportunities to talk with current Mustangs just to catch up.

“I talked with all the coaches and some players just about how some things were going.”

As Rock is still in the process of transitioning from quarterback to defensive back, he is focusing on improving the skills necessary to be successful at the position.

“I need to work on backpedaling just because I haven’t done it in a while,” he said.

Although he will be new to the team, Rock hopes to have a strong impact when he arrives at SMU.

“I would like to bring my leadership up into college.”

The SMU program is still a work in progress, but Rock believes that with the right pieces, the Mustangs could find themselves back on top.

“I think [the future’s] looking really bright,” he said. “Coach Morris has something special for us and as long as we put it together, the future looks really good.”

Lancaster receiver likely to keep SMU in top five

By: Andrew Hattersley

SMU once again struggled Saturday in a loss to East Carolina, but that didn’t put a damper on the weekend for Lancaster HS (Tex.) wide receiver Tyrell Alexander.

“It was a pretty good game, they played pretty well to start the game it got a little shaky towards the end of the game when East Carolina got momentum but it was a nice environment out there, it was really nice,” Alexander said.

Although the Mustangs have certainly had better turnouts attendance wise this season, especially against the likes of Baylor, the 6-2, 178-pound wide receiver still loved the energy of the crowd.

“It was pretty good, I would say it was a nice crowd out there and the crowd was pretty loud at times during the game it was pretty fun being out there,” Alexander said.

While on his visit to SMU, Alexander got to watch his good friend Kevin Thomas who has spoken highly about the Mustangs to him in the past despite them not talking recently.

“The receivers were really nice, KT had a nice game, I liked the receivers they were pretty nice, KT definitely had a nice game,” Alexander said, “We really haven’t chatted in a while, he just told me it was nice out there, and that it was a good school to go to, he loves it out there.”

There was a lot to like for Alexander on the visit despite the loss, including the continued development of the facilities and future improvements coming to the team.

“I’ve seen some of the construction and some of the changes, I think coach Morris is really trying to turn things around and the facilities are definitely the building onto the nice facility which is really nice out there,” Alexander said.

Alexander has 15 offers right now including a couple of big offers from SMU, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU and Houston and is getting ready to cut down his list in a couple of weeks.

“I’m going to be cutting down my list coming up very soon, in the next couple of weeks I will be,” Alexander said, “I’ve been talking with my family a lot about everything, so I really don’t have a top 5 right now, I’m going to get that together pretty soon here though.”

Despite SMU going up against some stiff competition for his services, he didn’t rule out the possibility of putting the Mustangs in his top five.

“SMU is possibly going to be one of the schools in my top 5,” Alexander said.

Comfort and the relationship Alexander feels he has with the coaching staff will ultimately end up making the difference on where the talented wide out ends up.

“Just a school that just fits me, more in depth just a good relationship with the coaches and being close with them, and just being able to confide in them,” Alexander said.

Local defensive lineman getting attention

By: Scott Sanford

2017 Wills Point (Tex.) defensive lineman Tyriq Burnett is just starting to make a name for himself on the recruiting trail.

The junior doesn’t hold any offers yet, but that hasn’t stopped him from exploring his college options thus far.

Burnett, who has racked up 14 sacks through five games, has taken two unofficial visits to SMU, with his most recent one coming last weekend for the Mustangs’ matchup versus East Carolina.

The beauty of the Hilltop is what stood out to Burnett while on campus or his second unofficial visit.

“I thought the campus was beautiful,” Burnett recalled. “I really enjoyed my visit while I was there, and all of the gardens made that beauty really stand out.”

Before the game, Burnett also got the chance to talk with head coach Chad Morris and receivers coach Justin Stepp.

“I really just told them about myself and what I’ve accomplished so far this season,” Burnett said. “They basically told me that they were very impressed with what I’ve accomplished and that we would stay in touch.”

While he plays most over the center for his high school’s defense, Burnett said SMU is recruiting him to play on the outside, which is something he believes would fit his skill set well.

SMU isn’t the only school expressing interest in the all-state defensive tackle.

Burnett has also taken a visit to Colorado State and speaks with his position coach weekly.

He is also receiving interest from California, Missouri, Columbia, Oregon and Florida State.

Becker hopeful for SMU’s future

By: Matt Sanders

Marble Falls defensive end/tight end and SMU commit Ryan Becker attended SMU’s game against East Carolina, and although he was impressed with SMU’s effort, he knows that there is work to be done, specifically with closing out games.

“They played well, but not well enough,” Becker said. “Like coach Morris said in the locker room after the game, they need to learn how to put four quarters together.”

Although SMU has had some early struggles, Becker believes they can turn things around this year.

“They just have to keep chipping away at it and keep a positive attitude,” he said.

The Mustangs’ early struggles have not discouraged Becker from attending SMU, as he is still fully committed to the University.

“I like the small campus and the business school is awesome, but the early playing time is a huge factor.”

During his visit, Becker got to spend some time catching up with players and coaches, and even talked with an old opponent.

“I talk to pretty much all of the coaches and I talked to one their defensive ends that I played against in high school.”

While Becker will spend his senior year getting healthy, he is also preparing for the move from high school to college.

“It will be a crazy transition, but I feel prepared for it and I should take it well,” he said.

Becker plans to return to the Hilltop later this year for not only watching some more games, but to take an official visit.

“I don’t know [when] but I am taking one.”

Although it is not easy switching positions, Becker believes that being versatile will help him fit nicely into SMU’s scheme.

“I’m going to play tight end and I play tackle now, but I played receiver my whole life until my sophomore year.”

Becker believes that with extra effort, the Mustangs could be a powerhouse by the time he finishes his career as a Mustang.

“I want to be undefeated, but that will take care of itself if we stay focused on just wining games,” he said.

Bynum talks SMU game, atmosphere

By: Billy Embody

2017 Dallas Lincoln wide receiver Devodric Bynum couldn’t make it to SMU’s homecoming game against James Madison after being offered, but did make it for the loss to East Carolina.

“I think it was a nice atmosphere. I like the quarterback and the offense,” Bynum said. “I like the fast tempo and the play style. It impressed me a lot.”

Bynum was especially impressed with SMU quarterback Matt Davis and the team’s attitude.

“He’s a leader on the field and I like that. I can see his passion for the game,” Bynum said. “They just never give up on any play. Always play until the clock hits zero because it’s anybody’s game. Just go out there and ball out.”

While he didn’t get to talk with any of the coaches and didn’t get to see much of campus, a couple things stood out.

“They was all busy and I had left before the end of the game,” Bynum said. “I liked the football stadium. I came a little late and I only got to see the inside of the locker room.”

Bynum is in contact with SMU receivers coach Justin Stepp and the pair plans to get Bynum back on campus.

“We’ve got a cool relationship. He wants me to come see him,” Bynum said. “I like him (Morris) too. I like the way he coaches.”

Bynum hasn’t set any other visits yet and plans to visit SMU again soon.

TCU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Houston and Texas State are also showing interest in Bynum, who is just recovering from a hamstring strain, but plans to get back on the field this week.

Wise recaps SMU visit

By: Demetrio Teniente

Last time we talked to 2016 Coppell linebacker, Solomon Wise, he was getting ready for his senior season. He recently visited SMU for their game against UNT.

“I think it went well,” he said. I like how they played, coming back in the second half and playing hard. Their defense was really good through the whole game and they were impressive.”

Despite SMU’s 1-5 start to the season, Wise sees a lot of positive in the Mustangs performances thus far.

“Honestly, I think they’ve been playing well,” he said. “They’ve been keeping up with those big schools like Baylor and TCU and actually put up some points on them. I think everyone was expecting scores lie 50 something to like six. They came out and made TCU sweat a little. They still did their thing, but SMU did well—I like how they played.”

Many SMU fans are looking toward the 2016 recruiting class to be the cavalry the Mustangs have been waiting for on the defensive side of the ball. While he isn’t an SMU commit right now, he falls into that group as a potential commit.

“I can see there being pressure with that,” he said. “You just can’t think of that—just play, have fun, and make sure the job gets done. That’s something I’ve learned this season. When people are relying on you, that is the most nerve wracking thing. They put you in a position where they have trusted you and you don’t want to disappoint them.”

Next week Wise is going to visit OSU and then Arkansas or Kansas after that, but he hopes to catch one of SMU’s next home games soon.

SMU commit takes in Homecoming

By: Demetrio Teniente

With so many athletes in SMU’s 2016 recruiting class being local kids, they have the unique opportunity to truly feel as if they are part of this team before they leave high school. When they come to the Hilltop to watch a game, they are treated as such by the fans, students, and coaching staff alike.

Several week ago, 2016 Cedar Hill Safety and SMU commit Michael Clark was on campus for the Mustangs homecoming game against James Maddison.

“I love the atmosphere and how the fans were with the recruits,” Clark said. “And I liked how even when the team was down the fans were still loud. I like the campus a lot, it’s just beautiful.”

As we already know, SMU lost to the Dukes, and have now lost five of their first six games. It’s not the glorious start to the Chad Morris era we all hoped (or maybe even believed) we would see. Still Clark and the other recruits are keeping their spirits high.

“I just like how the team stayed positive,” Clark said. “Even after the game, we went into the locker room and they told us not to be discouraged because this is just the beginning of something good.”

Clark notes the way SMU performed against Baylor and TCU as bright spots so far; proof that Morris’ approach is working.

“I didn’t know what the score was going to be,” he said. “But I knew that Coach Morris can get those guys to fight against any team. I think they just have to focus on the rest of the season and how they can build up the program more.”

Many SMU fans are looking at SMU’s current problems and are counting the days for the 2016 class to hit campus next season. The hope being that many of that class could provide much needed production and depth to a thin defensive roster.

“I understand that some people are saying that they are waiting for us to get there,” Clark said. “But I feel that people need to remember that it’s the first year with a new coaching staff. Everything is not going to be perfect. Some of the defensive coverages and schemes that SMU does aren’t perfect right now because it wasn’t what they used to do with these players. Every year it’s going to be getting better.”

There you have it. From the mouth of a future Mustangs: keep calm and pony up.

Clark plans on visiting campus for at least two more home games this season.

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