The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 12/11

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

Shelley talks SMU interest after playoff win

By: Patrick Engel

2017 Frisco (Texas) Lone Star quarterback Jason Shelley has led his team to the state semifinals after his five total touchdowns helped knock off Lancaster 49-34 at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 4. The Rangers have matched the deepest playoff run for any Frisco high school history. Shelley shook off two first-quarter interceptions and had 338 total yards in the win.

“It’s big for us because that’s what we’ve been working on all summer long, especially since we didn’t make the playoffs last year at 7-3,” Shelley said. “We knew we were good enough, but we just didn’t execute. We knew if we could execute, we could go big things.”

SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp watched Shelley’s performance, and the junior quarterback has held an SMU offer since the spring. Loepp recruits the Frisco area, so the two have talked for a while and grown familiar with each other. Shelley visited SMU once, but plans on going back for one of the junior days in the spring and camp in the summer.

“This summer is going to be pretty big for me. I’m going to try to go to a lot of camps and put my name out there more,” Shelley said. 

Shelley, a four-star prospect, holds offers from SMU, Nebraska and Clemson. SMU head coach Chad Morris was Shelley’s recruiter when he was the offensive coordinator at Clemson, so he has ties with a few of the SMU coaches. He estimates he talks with the coaches about three times per week.

“I’ve always had a relationship with coach Morris, but with the SMU offer I’ve gotten to know the other coaches really well,” Shelley said. “Their offense is really similar to ours, so I think I could thrive there.”

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound quarterback said that California, Oklahoma State, Houston, Purdue and Iowa have shown interest in him. He is Scout’s 256th-ranked prospect for 2017 and the 22nd-ranked quarterback.

Baylor commit talks SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

Houston Stafford defensive back and Baylor commit Jalen Pitre grabbed an SMU offer a few days ago after SMU defensive coordinator Van Malone stopped by his high school and offered.

"He told my coach because at the time it was during our athletic period and he really wasn't trying to interrupt. My coach told me after the period," Pitre said. "Then I texted him through Twitter after that. He was real nice, real cool. That was my first time speaking to him."

Malone told Pitre he'd like to see him down at SMU for their spring game and to just stay in touch. Pitre said not much is changing with the offer, but he appreciates the faith they showed in him.

"It's a nice offer to have, but I'm still good with Baylor right now. I really don't know much, but one of my friends Mikial Onu is going there."

Pitre decided to commit to Baylor because of the coaching staff and is solid in his commitment there.

"The coaches were outstanding. One of my teammates that goes to my school committed there a little while before too."

No other schools besides SMU is showing any real interest. Pitre just has offers from Baylor and SMU, who is still fighting for his signature even with his commitment.

"It really says a lot that they're still trying to get me and that they want to try to see if they can't get me to decommit and go there."

On the field, the 6-0, 200-pound defensive back says he's a good tackler, but just needs to work more on his speed during the offseason.

Buckley grabs offer, building relationships
© Greg Powers

By: Patrick Engel

2017 Cedar Hill (Texas) wide receiver Camron Buckley has been getting interest from SMU since the summer to the point where he thought he had an offer for a while. But the situation was cleared up when SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis stopped by his school earlier this week.

“I wasn’t for sure that I had it, because when I went to the (SMU recruit) picnic (over the summer) and I had a conversation with the coaches, but I didn’t know for sure,” Buckley said. “So when he confirmed that I did have an offer, I was just happy to have it because it’s another blessing.” 

Buckley has developed a good relationship with Mathis, who’s the recruiter for his area, since the cookout in July. The two talked when Mathis visited on Tuesday, and Mathis talked with his extensively at the cookout.

“It’s a building program, they’re trying to build a winning program. I like what they’re trying to do,” the four-star wide receiver said.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Buckley said that TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Houston and Baylor have all came by Cedar Hill since the December recruiting period. Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Houston and SMU have offered him so far, and Buckley said TCU is recruiting him the hardest of all. He is Scout’s 162nd-ranked player in the 2017 class and the sixth-ranked wide receiver in Texas.

Phillips takes in Moody Coliseum

By: Demetrio Teniente

SMU may not be able to play in the post season this year, but the Mustangs are playing as hard as ever. With a 7-0 start to the season, Moody Coliseum remains the place to be when SMU is playing. 

A-list celebrities, former presidents, current professional athletes, and some of the top recruits in the nation continue to seek out SMU games. 

A couple games back, when SMU hosted Brown, 2018 Grace Prep shooting guard Jordan Phillips witnessed SMU’s fighting spirit first hand.  

“The game was good,” he said. “I like what I saw from SMU. They are a good team and are playing pretty good without Larry brown right now.”

Phillips says he admires the way SMU continues to fight, despite no postseason play in their future.   

“It just shows their character,” he said. “They are willing to play hard even knowing that they can’t get that championship. It just shows real strong character.”

Phillips says his visit was solid all-around and that he really liked everything about the hilltop, especially the atmosphere in Moody. Still, his favorite part of the visit came when he got to visit the locker room.  

“I got to meet all the players and that was pretty cool,” Phillips said. “I used to watch Keith Frazier and kind of idolize him. So to see him at SMU was a pretty cool thing.”

It’s still early in Phillips recruitment and with his 6-5, 175 pound frame the sophomore is going to start getting a ton of looks. But after his visit, it seems SMU has Phillips’ attention early. 

The young shooting guard isn’t sure if he will be making any more visits anytime soon, especially since his HS season has just begun.

2018 linebacker visits SMU

By: Andrew Hattersley

The SMU football season did not enjoy the type of season they were hoping for, but they were able to send the seniors of with a victory over Tulane, something 2018 Brokewood HS (GA) linebacker Evan Fleming got to enjoy in his first visit to the Hilltop.

It was very electric, like I in the future SMU has got the potential to be a very good team

Fleming did not get to talk to the staff much but he did sit in on a couple of meetings, especially the linebacker meetings to get an idea of how they went. 

“Somewhat, they were all doing their prep work for the games but I did get to sit in some meetings at SMU with the linebacker coaches,” Fleming said, “The linebackers actually have to take a test in order to really play.”

Despite their struggles this season, the young linebacker was impressed with the studious nature of the linebackers and how much information they were taking in. 

“The linebackers are very studious and they work, the coaches are self explanatory and it sounds like the linebackers know their gaps and their assignments,” Fleming said. 

The atmosphere also caught Fleming’s attention as they made him feel at home throughout the night. 

“SMU definitely has a family type of atmosphere which made me feel really nice at home and comfortable,” Fleming said. 

Fleming is still a couple of years away from beginning his college career, and in that time, he thinks the Mustangs may become a force to be reckoned with. 

“Each year they will progress as a whole entire team and a whole entire unit, the coaches there really know what they’re doing as a staff and in my opinion in the future I think SMU will be a great team,” Fleming said. 

Fleming does not have any offers yet but he does plan on talking to Air Force and Navy in the coming weeks and visit SMU this upcoming summer to take part in one of their camps.   

Gary preparing for SMU official visit

By: Scott Sanford

2016 defensive end Demerick Gary was yet another SMU commit to receive an in-home visit while the staff is hitting the recruiting trail hard.

The three-star Kimball (Tex.) product met with Coach Gunn and Coach Wyatt to talk about everything from the academic side of things, to what he needs to do to prepare himself for the 2016 season.

“We talked about coming in and being in shape and being ready,” Gary said.  “We touched on some of the academic stuff, and my mom had a few questions to ask them so we talked about everything.”

As an end, holding his ground against bigger players is important, but staying in shape and completing full workouts are two things the coaches emphasized to Gary. 

“The worst thing you can do is come in and not be in shape,” Gary explained.  “A lot of people do the lifting part of the workout but not the running part, so they basically said do both and you’ll be just fine.”

But because Gary won’t get a playbook or workout program until after he signs, the Dallas native admits it has been weird technically not being a part of a team for now.

“The week after we lost I was headed out to the locker room when it him me we don’t have practice,” Gary said.  “It’s kind of tough not playing for your high school anymore, but I’m getting accustomed to it and I’m excited for this next chapter.”

For now, Gary will continue to lift and do football workouts on his own, and the defensive end has even already set a personal goal for his freshman campaign.

“My goal is to be as prepared as possible going in,” Gary said.  “There isn’t anything wrong with redshirting, but I feel like I have the ability to play as a true freshman so I’m grinding this off-season.”

Gary will take his official visit to the Hilltop on January 14. 

Webb gets in-home visit from staff
© Greg Powers

By: Scott Sanford

2016 San Angelo Central (Tex.) offensive tackle Braxton Webb was yet another SMU commit to receive an in-home visit from the Mustangs’ staff.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound three-star tackle welcomed Coach Morris, Coach Fry, Coach Craddock and Coach Loepp into his family’s home where they enjoyed a home-cooked meal and casually talked about the 2016 SMU season.

“The whole visit was awesome,” Webb explained.  “We had a bunch of conversations and some good cooking that my mom made.  (The coaches) just said that they’re ready for the 2016 recruiting class to come up and make big things happen.  They’re very excited for what we’re going to bring to the Hilltop.”

While Coach Morris mostly talked about the future of the program and turning things around as a whole, Coach Fry, Webb’s position coach, talked about what the high schooler needs to personally work on before getting to campus.

“He told me I have to start running a whole lot,” Webb said while laughing.  “That and lift weights.  They’re going to give me the playbook as soon as I sign and probably a specialized workout just for me.”

Webb, who also holds offers from Nevada and Syracuse, knows that he needs to work on his conditioning before he steps foot on the Hilltop, but he also plans to make an asserted effort to increase his upper body strength during the coming months.

With Webb’s high school season in the books, and his recruitment wrapped up, the next step for him is taking his official visit on January 23. 


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