The Hilltop Review 11/13

Come inside this week's Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest SMU recruiting news.

McDowell set to sign with SMU

By: Scott Sanford

Two months since his commitment, Southeast (Okla.) guard Dashawn McDowell officially became a Mustang this week after signing his national letter of intent.  

Considering the off-season turmoil that hit the Mustangs in September, SMU fans can finally breath a sigh of relief.

Just three weeks after McDowell originally committed, SMU was hit hard with NCAA sanctions, which will keep the Mustangs out of the post-season this season and forces them to forfeit scholarships. 

While the troubles may have deterred some, and others may have questioned why he wouldn’t check out other schools, McDowell always felt comfortable with the situation thanks to one of his future coaches.

"The trust that I picked up in Coach (K.T.) Turner is why I stuck with SMU through the NCAA sanctions," McDowell explained.  "He said to believe in him and everything will be fine.  I can't wait to build a relationship with my teammates so we can make it to the tournament, and I can't wait to play under Larry Brown."

On such an important day for him and his family, McDowell admits a few things come to mind immediately. 

“(I am) just blessed of course.  Thanking God for giving me the opportunity to receive a scholarship,” McDowell added.  “It’s something my mom won’t have to pay for and I’m thankful I can take advantage of what I’ve earned.”

Signing early gives the 6-foot-5, 180-pounder a chance to focus on his senior season and fine-tune his game.

“Now I can just develop my games to be able to fit the school I’ll be playing at,” McDowell said.  “It’s just a lot of stress off of my shoulders.”

Now that McDowell is officially a Mustang, the guard will focus on making a few defensive adjustments that the coaching staff wants him to work on.

“I’m a big guard for the one, so being able to guard little guards is important,” McDowell said.  “They just mainly want me to work on my defense and work on reading the pick and roll.”

The senior, who played his AAU ball for the Dallas Mustangs, picked SMU over offers from USC, Texas Tech, Houston, Wake Forest and others.

Hankins takes in SMU game


By: Matt Sanders

Flower Mound Marcus (Tex.) cornerback and SMU recruit Matt Hankins attended SMU’s football game against Tulsa, and walked away impressed by the leaders of SMU.

“It was exciting meeting the defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, President of SMU and finally getting to see Coach Loepp,” Hankins said.

Hankins’ conversation with Loepp was about the future of SMU, as well as the significance of SMU President R. Gerald Turner meeting him.

“We talked about the 2016 and 2017 recruits that have committed, and how SMU is a great place to get an education, as well as how the football program is making a run to get better,” he said. “He also mentioned that if the President of SMU is here greeting the recruits, it shows he really cares about the program.”

Hankins believes that the team is improving, but knows there is work to be done.

“I think they are on the right track. Their offense is good, but their defense could be better.”

Hankins believes that given how SMU runs its defense, he would fit in nicely.

“The corners play cocked to the inside on their wide outs, exactly how I do,” he said.

Hankins currently holds offers from SMU and Duke, but several local schools are starting to notice him.

“I am talking to Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State has a lot of interest in me. I went to Texas Saturday when they played Kansas, and I’m going to Oklahoma State when they play OU.”

Although he enjoys his recruiting process, Hankins knows that there is still work to be done in high school, both on and off the field.

“On the field I want to win a state championship and be a great leader doing it. Off the field, I want to just stay humble, don’t get a big head and keep my good grades.”

When it comes to what he is looking for in a college, comfort is one of the most important factors for him.

“I’m looking for a coaching staff that I feel comfortable around, great education, an outstanding environment and atmosphere and what would best fit me,” he said.

Hankins wants to study business, but he believes it is still too early to decide on a school. However, he believes that SMU will improve significantly by the time he graduates from high school.

“I’d like to see SMU above .500, and the atmosphere be better in the stadium.”

Clark staying positive about SMU


By: Demetrio Teniente

A couple weeks ago, 2016 Cedar Hill safety Michael Clark found himself in the stands as SMU lost yet another game, this time to Tulsa, bringing their season record to 1-7. 

After the game he talked to SMU running backs coach, Claude Mathis. 

“He told me just to stay on board and stay positive,” Clark said.

It’s been a rough season for the Mustangs (now 1-8) and for some it has been hard to keep the negativity out. That hasn’t been the case for the case for Clark and the rest of the 2016 class. 

“We talk to each other every day,” Clark said. “We remind ourselves that this is a brand new coaching staff. We can’t really look at their record right now because we aren’t there yet. We’re just proud of the coaching staff because they keep on pushing.”

A large portion of SMU’s fan base is looking towards the 2016 class to be a turning point for the program. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a group of high school seniors.    

“We see it as kind of like a challenge,” Clark said. “There is pressure but we aren’t really looking at it that way.”

Clark says he doesn’t know if he’ll be making another visit anytime soon because he’s trying to put all his energy into Cedar Hill’s season. This week Clark and the Longhorns will do battle with the South Lake Carol Dragons. 

“I know they are going to play hard,” he said. “They don’t want to lose and we don’t either. It’s going to be a good game and I think our game plan is good enough for us to come out with the win.” 

Bynum optimistic about SMU’s future

By: Demetrio Teniente

When SMU lost its seventh game of the season, 2017 Lincoln wide out Devodric Bynum was making another visit to SMU. 

Despite the end result, he left the game optimistic for the Mustangs’ future. All things considered it was a good visit.

“I loved the campus,” he said. “And I loved the fight and passion SMU had in the game.” 

Still just a junior, Bynum has yet to start racking up the offers but he is getting a lot of interest from schools like Texas Tech, TCU, and Baylor. At the moment, SMU is the only program to have pulled the trigger—defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt offering Bynum in early September.  

“It just felt really great to know all the work I put in was paying off,” Bynum said.

Bynum says he has a good relationship with Wyatt and some of the other SMU coaches too. 

“He texts or DMs me on twitter all the time,” Bynum said. “And I really like coach Chad Morris.  He seems like he is a real motivator.”

Bynum wants and plans on visiting the Hilltop again, but he isn’t sure when that will be.

Lincoln’s season ended last week with a loss to Maddison so his schedule will be a little more open now—but that also means more freedom to visit other schools showing interest in him. 

SMU offers Austin athlete

By: Matt Sanders

Lyndon B. Johnson (Tex.) running back and SMU recruit Kahlil Thomas has been talking with SMU coaches to have a phone conference, and according to him, things are going well.

“I know they want to offer me,” Thomas said. “Coach Mathis said he will try to get  (the phone call) done sometime today, but if not today, it will be sometime this week.”

Thomas has not visited SMU yet but he hopes to visit soon. While he is focusing on football, he is also focusing and the academic side of his recruitment process.

“I usually look at the tuition and fees, the student-to-teacher ratio and the acceptance rate,” he said.

Thomas wants to study kinesiology, and he is also talking with Oklahoma State and Tulsa.

Thomas believes that although the record doesn’t indicate it, SMU has had a good season so far.

“They look good. They just need some people to step up and be leaders, and make the plays they need to make to be successful throughout the season.”

According to Thomas, the coaching staff is the key to a successful Mustangs program.

“I think that the coaches are really trying to get this football program back to where it needs to be,” he said. “They are trying their hardest. The coaching staff is great, and they have all the right coaches to get the program back at the top.”

While Thomas is focusing on the transition to college, he is still making sure he succeeds in high school.

“I want to finish my breakout season that I am having, and I want to do well in school.”

Although there is still work to be done, Thomas believes that SMU could be a force to reckon with by the time he graduates from high school.

“I would like the program to be back on top, doing well and trying to win a championship.”

SMU is recruiting Thomas at wide receiver.

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