The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 2/12

Come inside another jam-packed Hilltop Review with the latest SMU recruiting news.

2018 4-star takes in SMU junior day

By: Matt Sanders

Sachse quarterback and 2018 recruit Jalen Mayden's recruitment process is already picking up. However, he is still trying to focus on his high school career.

“Sophomore year was fine. It went by pretty fast, faster than I would have liked,” Mayden said. 

One of the goals Mayden has for his junior year is to improve team chemistry.

“Last year we focused on the individual,” he said. “We had good individuals, but we need to be a team. We want to plan team events like going to the movies.”

Heading into his junior season, Mayden looks to have a bigger leadership role, and he wants to be somebody that people can look up to.

“It means a lot to me to be a leader. People are looking up to me for advice and play calling,” he said. “I want to be the first to come to practice and the last to leave, and to help clean up.”

Mayden has visited SMU a couple of times, and he was impressed with the facilities.

“The weight room really stood out to me,” he said. “The school is kind of small, so I was surprised to see a weight room like that.”

Mayden has two connections to SMU. SMU signee Michael Clark is his cousin, and he is also good friends with current wide receiver James Proche.

“I’ve reached out and they’ve said that your recruitment is about what you want to do and you need to go somewhere you’ll be happy with for four years,” he said.

As a sophomore, Mayden already has offers from Syracuse, Houston, Ohio State, Louisville and Oregon State. With gaining this much attention as a sophomore, it is easy to get lost in the process. Fortunately for him, his older brother Jared, who just signed with Alabama as a cornerback, has been guiding him.

“When my recruitment first started, by brother always told me to not let it get to my head,” he said. “He also said to keep calling coaches and get the relationships right.”

Currently, Mayden does not have a ranking of schools, but if things go his way, Mayden would like to commit within the next year.

“I want to commit mid-junior season and stick with that school.”

Mayden acknowledged that the SMU coaching staff is approaching recruiting smartly by taking things to social media.

“It’s important for coaches to connect on social media because that’s what everybody is doing.”

When asked about what it says about all of SMU’s signees being from Texas, Mayden thought it was a huge advantage.

“It’s a smart strategy to recruit locally because some of the best athletes are in Texas.”

Mayden knows that SMU is still in rebuild mode, but he believes the Hilltop could be much brighter by the time he graduates from high school.

“The coaches are confident and they want the players to believe in them. I would like to see the in the top 25 or in a big conference,” he said. “It’s important to play big programs.”

2017 running back talks SMU interest

By: Scott Sanford

2017 North Mesquite (Tex.) running back Dreshawn Minnieweather was another player from the DFW Metroplex that the SMU staff entertained on Junior Day at the end of January.

Minnieweather, like most, loved what he saw during his visit; especially the changes that are happening throughout the program.

“(I noticed) really how they’re rebuilding the whole program,” Minniweather said.  “From the players and staff to even the equipment and facilities—they’re rebuilding everything.”

While the Mustangs finished just 2-10 in 2015, the 6-foot, 195-pound running back sees that as an opportunity rather than a negative.

“That’s how our team was,” Minnieweather explained.  “We didn’t win a lot of games and we went through a rebuilding phase, but we got through it, and I feel like that’s what they’re going to do.”

Minnieweather spoke with Coach Mathis during his visit to the Hilltop, which was the first chance he had to communicate with the staff.  The former Desoto coach did however have a few pointers for the running back.

“Coach Mathis just told me to keep working, remain focused and stay on my grades,” Minniweather said.  “He said they’re going to be coming back in the spring to evaluate me more and see me play.”

The power runner has also visited TCU and has received some interest from the likes of Houston, Iowa State, Harvard, Yale and Michigan State.

He plans to makes it rounds at camps throughout Texas this summer, but he also plans to attend Michigan State’s camp as well.

2017 JUCO OL picks up SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

SMU has sent out a lot of 2017 offers now that signing day has passed. One of the two offers handed out Thursday went to Chaffey College (Calif.) offensive tackle Ronald Rudd. SMU offensive line coach Dustin Fry talked with Rudd on the phone and offered him Thursday morning.

“Coach Dusty had me call him and told me he was amazed with my film, and that they were going to extend an offer to me,” Rudd said. “I was fired up because now I have the chance to possibly play for SMU.”

Fry and Rudd have only been in contact and talking for a few days, but Fry’s approachable nature impressed Rudd. Despite SMU’s recent struggles, he is also aware that SMU has fielded dominant teams in the past and wants to be part of a turnaround.

“I always like that underdog story. That always fascinated me,” Rudd said. “I’d like to be among the first to start something new.”

Rudd is a California native and has not visited SMU, but he has family in Texas and has visited the state before. He said he plans to talk with his parents about visiting SMU, although he didn’t have a date in mind yet.

The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Rudd also has offers from Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, UAB and Washington State. He listed Arizona State, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, San Diego State and UNLV as schools that are talking with him but have not offered.

Rudd played defensive end for Fontana (Calif.) Miller High School and had a successful transition to offensive line in his first year at the position. Fry commended Rudd on his strengths after he watched Rudd’s film.

“He liked my athleticism and my ability to hold down the edge in pass protection,” Rudd said.

Rudd plays left tackle for Chaffey, and he thinks the past experience playing defensive line made his transition to offensive side easier.

“I like my footwork. I’m quick off the ball,” Rudd said. “I also like my technique that I’ve learned from my offensive line coach at Chaffey, being able to return on inside move and stop them from penetration on inside moves.”

Rudd will graduate in December 2016 and can sign with a team on junior college signing day, which is Dec. 14, 2016. 

2017 Cedar Hill LB talks SMU offer

By: Demetrio Teniente

Wednesday afternoon, 2017 Cedar Hill linebacker Dimitri Moore picked up his fifth offer from SMU. 

Moore also holds offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa State, and Texas State. 

Illinois was the first to pull the trigger on the 6-2, 195 pound outside linebacker. 

“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “It was like a movie and that’s how it feels every time I’ve gotten an offer so far—it’s like it’s not real. It’s just a big deal to me to be looked at by colleges and to be offered a scholarship.”

Moore says he’s been talking a lot to SMU’s coach Claude Mathis frequently throughout the recruiting process.  

“He’s a pretty straight forward guy,” Moore said. “We have a good relationship—he’s a cool guy.”

Moore has yet to visit SMU, but he remembers when his Cedar Hill Longhorns clashed with the Southlake Carroll Dragon’s on the Hilltop back in 2014  

And though he didn’t get to see much of the school other than the stadium and the locker rooms, SMU is a school, he says, he’s always been considering. 

 “I’ve always been interested in SMU—they’ve been on my mind,” he said. 

It probably helps SMU that it just signed two of Moore’s teammates, Eric Sutton and Michael Clark a week ago.  

“Yea they are always coming at me with that ‘Stang Gang’ stuff—I don’t blame them,” Moore said. “It’s a good school.” 

 Moore also says that it is still early for him, and he hasn’t had a chance to get out to look at schools, but he does know what he’ll be looking for when he does. 

“I can see myself going to a school that has a really strong family type atmosphere like I have here at Cedar Hill,” Moore said. “And I want to make sure that I have a school with good tutoring programs so I can get all of my classwork done—keeping my grades up is very important to me.” 

2018 Sachse linebacker makes SMU visit

By: Billy Embody

2018 Sachse linebacker Cedric Johnson made the trip for SMU junior day with a group of Mustangs teammates and the coaching staff wowed him with the family atmosphere.

“The coaches are great. They felt like family and it seemed like a nice place to call home eventually,” Johnson said. “I liked how it was just like talking to a family or a friend. They made me feel real comfortable talking to them. It seemed like I could develop a great relationship with them.”

Johnson got to know linebackers coach Archie McDaniel on the trip.

“I had a great conversation with him. He just told me about recruiting and how they’re going to be coming down to Sachse for spring ball,” Johnson said.

SMU’s facilities impressed Johnson as well.

“The locker room was great and the field was gorgeous. The weight room, which is the key for me, I really liked that too.”

The 5-11, 215-pound linebacker got to talk with head coach Chad Morris briefly and said he was a nice guy, but other than that, the pair didn’t get to talk too long.

On the field, Johnson’s ability to pursue the ball and make the tackle are the keys to his game.

“I’m a great tackler on the field, but the things I want to improve on are speed even though it didn’t slow me down too much, you just always want to work on that. As far as tackling and getting to the ball, I’m pretty good at that.”

Johnson visited Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor in the fall for games. He plans to get back to SMU for the spring game or practices.

For now, SMU got a good start with Johnson with its religious ties.

“I like SMU because it’s a christian college because I’m really serious about my religion so I’d like to go to a school like that,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to just come to a college that’s very welcoming, I can call home and feel safe at.”

2017 Bishop Dunne DT grabs SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 Bishop Dunne defensive lineman Damion Daniels picked up an SMU offer recently when SMU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt talked with him on the phone to give him the good news.

“He told me I liked my film and that I had an offer to play at SMU for him,” Daniels said. “I was really thankful and blessed for the offer. I could see myself playing at SMU.”

Daniels has been hearing from SMU for a while now and has begun building a relationship with the staff, but has always had a liking for SMU.

“I’ve always liked SMU because my father would take me up there when I was younger and we used to go visit football games and since then I’ve had an interest in SMU.”

On February 20, Daniels will make it to SMU for the junior day and while he probably won’t commit, SMU is in a good spot already.

“I’m pretty high. I really like it because most of the people to come out of there are really successful,” Daniels said. “In the future, I’m going to let my recruiting process play out and see who wants me the most though. SMU is definitely up there.”

SMU has three things that Daniels is looking for right now.

“They have really high academics and that’s first. Two, they’re really close to home. Three, when I went there, the staff was nice and friendly.”

Daniels knows a lot about SMU already, but he still wants to hear more about the Cox School of Business.

“I already know that they’re a good school with business and academics, but I want to get deeper into that because my academics are really important and are going to be there longer than my football.”

Oklahoma State, Iowa and Rice have already offered Daniels with Florida State, Michigan State and Cal showing interest. 

His brother, Darrion, plays at Oklahoma State now. 

“They (Oklahoma State) have a great graduation rate too like SMU and it’s not that far from home, but it’s not too close to home. It really doesn’t matter where I play, but if it can help me with my future, I’m down for it. SMU can prepare me for business and playing football is extra. With SMU, I could really end up being successful.”

Daniels doesn’t exactly have a timetable on when he’ll decide, but he’d like to have a decision wrapped up around December of his senior year.

The 6-3, 230-pound defensive tackle has a high motor and everything you look for in a defensive tackle.

“I’m a relentless player. I’m always looking for the ball. I’m good with my hands, got good feet and hips. I’ve got a high motor and dictate anybody’s scheme,” Daniels said. “I need to improve my hip flexors more, get my hands faster and get my core better.”

Daniels broke his brother’s record of sacks in a season with nine during his junior year.

Montrell Estell talks SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 Hooks wide receiver Montrell Estell recently picked up an SMU offer and is happy to have gotten an offer from a school building a program.

"I got an offer from SMU not to long ago. I was excited. It's a good school. I know they are trying to build up the program and things like that, so I'm going to look more into it soon."

It’s early in SMU’s recruitment of the East Texas 3-star, but he’s going to get a better idea of their interest when the staff sees him this spring.

"I haven't talked to the coaches too much, but they are coming down to see me in the spring. I'll probably talk to them more then. I think they like me more as a wide receiver."

Outside of SMU, the 6-2, 180-pound receiver is also high on Arizona State and Texas Tech.

"Arizona State is probably the school standing out to me the most right now. I've heard they have a great campus, so I want to visit. I also like Texas Tech because they pass the ball a lot." 

Texas Tech and Kansas have also offered Estell.

2017 Marcus DL recaps SMU junior day

By: Andrew Hattersley

2017 Marcus HS (Tex.) defensive tackle Hawkens Taylor has been going to SMU games since he was six years old, but Saturday was a special and unique day for Taylor at SMU for their first junior day. 

“It was great, the coaching staff in general was really great, I really liked them it was cool seeing everything they already have and everything they are going to have,” Taylor said, “Pretty much everything they do is top notch and just seeing what SMU games are going to be like in the future is just going to be really cool.”

Taylor is excited to see the future what SMU’s facilities will look like especially with the credibility will gain from these facilities.  

“The indoor practice facility where they’re going to have a jumbotron in that thing and it’s going to be a full hundred yards, basically they are just making huge strides, huge improvements,” Taylor said, “I think they could make a huge jump and have success in the next couple of years.”

Taylor met the coaching staff a couple of times at his high school and loves the values this staff brings to the table. 

“I had met with coach Craddock and coach Smith because they had come up to my high school to talk to me a couple of times, coach Craddock I met him at the junior day and coach Smith he’s a great guy, a good Christian guy like Chad Morris,” Taylor said. 

Taylor has been attending SMU games for over a decade and has got to see the ups and downs of the program. 

“The first time I ever went to SMU was I think when I was like six, I forget who they were playing but it was the first time I ever to a college game and it was pretty crazy just walking to the game you got to see so much of the campus and everything, you got to see the boulevard and everything so many times it’s just a great atmosphere down there,” Taylor said. 

Energy has been the key to this resurgence for the coaching and something Taylor has noticed with some of their innovative ideas. 

“With the new coaching staff under coach Morris I feel like they just bring so much more energy like how they ride around on a golf cart every Thursday telling kids to go support them and come to the game and they just get the word out,” Taylor said, “I just feel like the old coach just didn’t really do that as well and I just feel like since the coaching staff is out there with the players doing all this good stuff for the campus, their players work for Habitat for Humanity so that really gets the players involved and the community involved.”

2017 linebacker looking to take leadership role

By: Matt Sanders

Brock linebacker and SMU recruit Zane Young recently attended SMU’s junior day, and enjoyed what SMU has to offer.

“SMU has a really great campus,” Young said. “They have just about anything you want and have really nice facilities. What stood out to me was the education. They have huge buildings and a lot of libraries.”

During his visit, Young had the chance to talk with coach Morris and coach Gunn.

“Coach Gunn is my recruiter, and we just talked about normal football stuff.”

Along with SMU, Young has been in touch with Cal and Abilene Christian, and he hopes his recruitment picks up over the next several months.

“I’ll be going to a lot of camps over the summer,” he said. “It’s a hard and long process, but it’s stressful in the good kind of way.”

Young is coming off a championship season in which he was also named the defensive player of the year for 3A.

“The way we looked at it, we just took it game by game,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking about the awards since that was at the end of the year.”

It’s difficult to find ways to improve on a championship year, but Young plans to come out his senior year ready to defend the championship.

“On the field, it’s just another year. We’re going to go out and try to win every game,” he said. “If we can’t, we will score as many points as we can and stay close.”

Young looks forward to being a senior because he wants to be somebody that people can look up to.

“Off the field, we want to leave a legacy for the younger guys,” he said. “The football season is always for the seniors, and next year I’ll have a different point of view. It means a lot to be a senior because the team is only as good as its seniors.”

Young realizes that SMU is in a rebuilding mode, but knows that the right coach is in charge of turning things around on the Hilltop.

“I want to see them win football games; you don’t play to lose,” he said. “Coach Morris is no stranger to the game and I’m sure he can turn them around. They’re still a good team.”

2017 DL visits for junior day

By: Andrew Hattersley

First impressions matter a lot and for 2017 Decatur (Tex.) defensive lineman Terry Hogan, SMU left a great one in just about every way.  

“It was wonderful, first impressions were very impressive, very easy access between the city and everything, I used to live in Decatur so it’s not far from my own home, the dinner accommodations and dorms were suitable for pretty much any person that I could tell,” Hogan said, “Better cooking than my own mothers sadly, all around it was just amazing to see what they had to offer and to hear that it wasn’t the end of it before I could get there.”

The facilities also ranked among the best Hogan has seen so far after also taking visits to Oklahoma State and Purdue. 

“It was all immaculate, greater than anything I’ve ever seen honestly beyond compare from what I’ve seen from the different schools I’ve been to so far, this was at the top of my list,” Hogan said. 

Hogan did not have much experience with SMU before taking his visit and had only recently become interested in the school, but he plans to keep the dialogue going with the staff in the coming months.

“Very briefly, I had only talked to Mr. Keith Gunn maybe twice on Twitter in between what he was saying and my interest in college, it interested me and it proved to be a valuable day for me,” Hogan said, “It was really just this year where I started looking at colleges where my GPA wouldn’t have given me a chance to think that I could make it but its shot up since and SMU was really the first school that jumped to my attention because of the great words that I’m hearing about them from different students, coaches and all kinds of people that I’ve met that have given me advice.”

Not only was Hogan impressed with the SMU facilities but also the manner in which the staff tried to make every player taking a visit feel at home throughout. 

“I found them all to be very friendly, nice going people they had a nice sense of humor that was refreshing at times,” Hogan said, “With that they also knew what they were talking me and were interested in each individual person that they meet and making sure that they make a good overall impression.”

For Hogan, the cost of attending the school as well as the academic aspects of the institution will play a big role in where he chooses to attend, regardless of whether that is in Texas or not. 

“My biggest point is wherever is going to be cheapest in the long run so whether that’s away from Texas or in Texas wherever is fine by me as long as it is less financial strain,” Hogan said, “I’m looking for easy accessibility to my classes, the teachers actually being help to students like tutoring sessions or anything like that, the small majority that has struggles I mean accommodations which are high point for me, any of that would help.”

2018 lineman impressed by SMU junior day

By: Andrew Hattersley

Just before putting the finishing touches on a successful 2016 class, the SMU staff set their sights on 2017 and beyond hosting a number of kids for their first junior day of the year. One of those in attendance was 2018 Paschal HS (Tex.) offensive lineman Ethan Wiley. 

“It as pretty awesome, I liked the facilities, I liked the coaches and I liked the atmosphere, I liked the people that were there,” Wiley said.

Aside from one letter from the coaching staff and a few interactions on Twitter, this was one of the first times Wiley had met the staff and the 6-5, 280 pound junior tackle came away looking forward to their next meeting. 

“They sent me a Christmas letter a while back saying they wanted to talk to me,” Wiley said, “I followed them on Twitter and they followed me back so there has been some stuff between us.”

With the 2016 class about to sign, Morris and the staff spoke of the high hopes they had that they were close to turning the program around with the recent talent influx. 

“They just said they were rebuilding the program and they were really interested to see what the 2016 class could do and bring to help the program,” Wiley said, “And they feel next year is really the opportunity with the recruits they have coming in as a chance to step up the program.”

As is custom during the visit, the players got to try on the SMU uniforms and received a tour of the lockers and rest of the football building.

“They were insanely nice, they were pretty awesome, I like it a lot, I thought it was actually really well set up,” Wiley said. 

Although he has only been on campus just this one time, Wiley was impressed with the environment at the school and is looking forward to coming back in a couple weeks to get a better feel for the school. 

“I really like the environment, I think it would be really awesome to graduate from there and have like my resume ready for a really prestigious job cause it’s a prestigious school,” Wiley said, “I really like the campus I think it’s really nice.” 

Wiley is going to be back a few more times before the year is done to camp with the team and attend some spring practices. 

“I’m definitely going to be back in the summer and then I want to come back for some of the spring practices,” Wiley said. 

Most of his communication so far has been with SMU assistant coach Keith Gunn but he also got the opportunity on the trip to meet offensive line coach Dustin Fry. 

“I’ve been talking most of the time with the special teams coach Gunn but I also got met coach Fry this weekend and we got talking for a little while,” Wiley said, “We just talked about what it would be like to play there and like how I would fit in at SMU. 

2019 star recaps junior day

By: Scott Sanford

Despite being just a freshman, 2019 Denton Guyer (Tex.) running back Noah Cain made a name for himself after racking up nearly 1,100 yards and 10 TDs during his first year on varsity.  

The Scout All-Midlands Freshman of the Year doesn’t hold an offer just yet, but he has already started to hear from the likes of USC, UCLA, Texas A&M and LSU.  

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound back took his first two college visits to USC and UCLA, but his first visit to a Texas school came when he attended SMU’s junior day at the end of January. 

Cain enjoyed every aspect of his visit to the Hilltop, but what stood out to him the most was the family-oriented attitude of the coaching staff.

“It was a great experienced and I really enjoyed getting that college atmosphere,” Cain recalled.  “The coaches are interested in us as more than just football players, which is really cool to see.  It’s good to know they care about the person and not just the athlete.”

The running back had the chance to speak with SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis while on campus.  He said the two have already formed a down-to-earth relationship, which made it easy for the two to talk.

And while new facilities are nice amenities, that’s not the most important thing to Cain when it comes to finding a program he wants to join. 

“Truly, I’d like to get a great coaching staff; people that will talk to me about life goals and not just football,” Cain explained.  “Honestly, just like the SMU coaching staff.  They’re really good people.”

Now while Cain’s freshman year turned a lot of heads, there are still a few aspects of his game the soon-to-be-sophomore is working on.

“As a freshman being on varsity, I know it can be a little nerve-racking, so before each game I focused on playing my game,” Cain said.  “Going into next year, I want to focus on my pass protection.  The speed of the varsity game is a whole lot different than the middle school game, and I know protecting the quarterback is a big part of my role, so I need to mature in that aspect.”

The North Texas native plans on visiting schools throughout the summer, but has nothing lined up at this point.

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