SMU stockpiled plenty of depth along the offensive and defensive lines and the secondary in the 2016 class. Was it enough for the defense to take a turn and the offense to be more productive? Time will tell.
In the 2017 class, quarterback is of course the position that SMU desperately needs to address as Matt Davis will graduate and the options behind him are unproven, but where else?
I take a look at three positions on each side of the ball that still need upgrading in the 2017 class.
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After Matt Davis graduates after the 2016 season, SMU has Ben Hicks and Darrell Colbert, Jr. as the two options to fill the void. Ke'Mon Freeman could get a shot as well, but he could be moved to another position before he does. With Hicks and Colbert being two different styles of quarterbacks, SMU will have to determine where they really begin to go in the future at the position under Morris and Craddock's direction. It appears that it will be a true dual-threat. SMU had tried to land Chason Virgil in the 2015 class before landing Hicks, who's more of a pocket passer. Not saying they settled on Hicks, but he's not a dual-threat although he can move the chains with his feet on occasion. This class will tell SMU fans where the quarterback position is going.
The need for a quarterback is obvious, but less obvious is who does SMU land? Corsicana quarterback Kishawn Kelley tried to commit this fall, but the staff wanted to see more of a commitment to the SMU program than he had showed so far. Kelley visited earlier this spring for a junior day, but will he pull the trigger and commit? The staff is certainly looking for two quarterbacks so landing Kelley early could help begin to solidify the position.
Is he the top quarterback on their list? There's Roshauud Paul (at top), Jason Shelley and Bryson Smith to consider and darkhorse land Avery Davis, who is getting all sorts of attention as is Paul. All four are dual-threats and whoever were to win the battle between the two could contribute elsewhere for SMU on the field.
Lake Travis quarterback Charlie Brewer will also visit campus this week with Paul at the very least. Brewer is more of a pocket passer, but has been incredible so far in his career. He's got the connection to Morris as well with his brother, Michael, playing for Morris at Lake Travis.
The good news is Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M all having quarterbacks already committed in 2017 so SMU won't have to worry about some of the major regional powers attacking their quarterback commits when they land them.
Names to know: Charlie Brewer, Roshauud Paul, Jason Shelley, Kishawn Kelley, Bryson Smith, Avery Davis.
Dream name to sign: TCU commit Shawn Robinson (SMU offered a while back)
Realistic names to sign:Kishawn Kelley and Bryson Smith
Greg Powers / SCOUT
SMU will graduate Chauncey Briggs and Christian Chamagua after the 2016 season and then have as many as six senior interior offensive linemen (barring attrition). Even with the likes of Nick Natour, Keaton Bates, Kadarius Smith and others on the roster after the 2017 season, the cupboard is bare in terms of true depth at the interior spots that will have been recruited by Morris.
That's why SMU needs to really address the guard position in the 2017 class. There's a good amount of talent and depth at the tackle positions, but SMU will need to land some athletic, powerful guards in the 2017 class.
This is a position where SMU is more than happy recruiting tackles and moving them inside. It's what could happen with Jacob Todora in the 2016 class, but of course, I see him sticking outside.
Some of the big names to watch for SMU so far are Xavier Newman, one of two Desoto offensive linemen offered by SMU along with Hyrin White (above). Both could be inside and landing both would be huge and both are getting major attention.
Matthew Huhn and Alan Ali are two kids that are blowing up while also planning on visiting SMU this weekend. Ali is quietly extremely high on SMU. Kenneth Pleasant is a massive prospect that could be devastating at guard.
SMU is also in on some other quality tackle prospects, but the rest don't really project to guard.
Names to know: Xavier Newman, Hyrin White, Matthew Huhn, Alan Ali, Kenneth Pleasant
Dream lands to sign: Rashawn Slater (committed to Northwestern), Hyrin White, Matthew Huhn
Realistic names to sign: Alan Ali, Hyrin White, Xavier Newman
Billy Embody | SCOUT
Before you know it, Xavier Jones and Braeden West will have just completed their sophomore seasons when the 2017 class signs and will be juniors as the 2017 class goes through their freshmen year. Time to grab a couple running backs in a deep 2017 running back class.
The key here is getting true balance in the backfield between the big backs and speed that Morris needs for the offense. SMU has offered plenty of backs so far, but is still in search of that 6-foot, 190-pound back that can develop into a 210-pound load.
SMU is in great shape for running backs like Kayce Medlock (above), Trelon Smith, C.J. Jones and Eno Benjamin. Benjamin is more of a stretch, but kids don't show up to junior days alone if they're not interested.
Signing two running backs in this 2017 class is a dream scenario for the staff. Allowing one to redshirt would be even better for the team. After seeing Medlock in person, he's not the big back right now that SMU was hoping he'd be.
In terms of kids that SMU has an outside shot at, Kennedy Brooks and Kaegun Williams are two names that will get plenty of attention. Brooks is already getting it, but Williams is expected to as well as he's already picked up an offer from Tennessee.
No matter who SMU lands, there has to be that balance between speed and size. If SMU can find that, the offense will really be set for future success with a big back it can rely on in short-yardage situations.
Names to know: Kayce Medlock, C.J. Jones, Trelon Smith, Eno Benjamin, Dominic Williams.
Dream names to sign: Kennedy Brooks and Toneil Carter Jr.
Realistic names to sign: Kayce Medlock and Trelon Smith (and an unnamed bigger back)
Greg Powers / SCOUT
After loading up on interior defensive linemen and adding a kid like Michael Badejo, who will be a phenomenal pass rushing defensive end for SMU, the team needs some additional defensive ends on the edge. SMU will have a few linemen departing after this season including Jarvis Pruitt, Elie Nabushosi and potentially others just moving on after graduation. The team also has a gap year where they won't graduate a single defensive lineman after the likes of Justin Lawler, Mason Gentry, and Spencer Hollie graduate after the 2017 class' freshmen year.
SMU has to build more depth is what I'm saying at defensive end along the line. Right now, Hunter Thedford, Michael and Delontae Scott are the options after that group graduates and they'll really need to continue to bulk up.
Against physical teams, SMU needs some bigger defensive ends to hold down the strongside and set the edges.
Depending on where some of the 2016 class ends up, this is a need that could continue to be filled with the 2017 class. As the Denver Broncos and Alabama proved, you can never have enough disruptive defensive ends.
SMU is doing a great job picking quality kids to get in on early at this position including Earnest Brown IV, Noah Jones and Ondario Robinson. Toby Ndukwe (above) is another solid offer by the staff at this spot, but he's yet to blow up.
Jones is physically the one I like the best as his frame looks like it could get up to that 280-290 range in college.
Brown, Robinson and Ndukwe are much more of pass rushing defensive ends, but of course, with weight, they could grow into special players at the position.
SMU hasn't offered a ton of defensive ends, but the ones they have so far all have the making of being special.
Names to know: Earnest Brown IV, Noah Jones, Ondario Robinson, Toby Ndukwe
Dream name to land: Earnest Brown IV
Realistic name to land: Toby Ndukwe and Noah Jones
© Greg Powers
It's tough to tell which kids will grow into what position, but after the 2016 season, there can be a major changing of the guard at these two spots. With the Star linebacker spot addressed well in the first two classes, the attention has to now go to the Will and Mike.
Not that the quality isn't there for the kids they've signed, I just want more competition here. SMU looks like they like where the position is at with their offers so far and should continue to be selective.
I'd love a class of 3-4 linebackers between the two spots. Three is the more realistic number, but four would really build some quality depth as the roster continues to turn over.
Nick Horton and Jackson Mitchell will graduate. Mitchell is at the Star and Horton doesn't appear to fit as well as he did in the 3-4. Behind them Carlos Carroll, RC Cox and Anthony Rhone will be next up to move on after the 2017 season. After that, depth will be a struggle.
At the Will and Mike, that leaves Matt McNew, possibly Jordan Ward, possibly Mitchell Kaufman and Noah Spears. This is the year to build depth, redshirt it or get it on the field early.
While Anthony Hines has been on campus numerous times, it's unrealistic at this point that he'll end up at SMU. That leaves Elijah McQueen, Riko Jeffers (above), Marqez Bimage, Terrel Bernard and Dimitri Moore as the realistic options right now that SMU has offered.
There's talent in that group, but also tough competition to land each. Bernard might be destined for the Star as well, which doesn't help the case inside.
Moore, McQueen and Jeffers would really fit the mold that SMU appears to be going for so far at linebacker.
Names to know: Anthony Hines, Elijah McQueen, Marqez Bimage, Terrel Bernard, Dimitri Moore and Riko Jeffers.
Dream names to sign: Anthony Hines and Baron Browning
Realistic names to sign: Dimitri Moore, Elijah McQueen and Riko Jeffers
This is a position SMU addressed aggressively in the 2016 class after failing to sign a true cornerback in the 2015 class. Kevin Johnson is the closest thing to that from 2015. In 2016, Mikial Onu, Eric Sutton, Christian Davis, possibly Ke'Mon Freeman and possibly Chan Amie are the answers the staff could have at cornerback next season.
SMU is about three-deep with corners with experience in Horace Richardson, Jesse Montgomery (who also played safety) and William Jeanlys. What the 2016 class needs is to grow up quickly, but the staff also has to build depth quickly behind them as graduation picks off a corner a year the next couple seasons.
SMU has offered length in the 2017 class outside of Javelin Guidry, who's 5-9, but it's important that they're valuing length in this class. The rest of cornerbacks offered are reportedly 5-11 and above.
Beck on the other hand, is high on SMU and has a great relationship with the SMU staff and is teammates with Ndukwe and Onu. That's all positive. He'd be a massive land at 6-2, 180.
Merchant is building a solid relationship with the SMU staff and Hankins' coach is a huge fan of what Morris is trying to do at SMU. Mosley sounds like a tougher one to land, but is visiting along with Merchant and Hankins this weekend. That's a trio SMU fans and I think the staff would be ecstatic with.
Names to know: Adam Beck, Javelin Guidry, Matt Hankins, Javontavius Mosley, Tyon Merchant
Dream names to land: Kary Vincent, Jr, Justin Broiles, Adam Beck
Realistic names to sign: Matt Hankins, Tyon Merchant, Javelin Guidry