With SMU’s first season not going the way the SMU coaches had planned, there figures to be plenty of competition as spring ball kicks off in coach Morris’ second season. Aside from SMU’s stable of running backs and Courtland Sutton, and a couple other standouts from last season, most positions are up for grabs if anybody shows they’ve made sizable improvement beginning this spring. With that, here is a look at the top five battles to watch during spring football.
WR 2-Man & 5-Man
SMU has quickly developed quite a bit of depth at the receiver position and there will be a lot of jostling for the spots opposite Courtland Sutton. Xavier Castille will be battling once again with Ryheem Malone, who’s coming off a good season, and Shelby Walker while there figures to be early competition with James Proche as well for the other spot as he looks likely to be a key contributor this season. Kevin Thomas and Myron Gailliard could be in the mix as well. Needless to say in just a short amount of time, SMU has gone from having nobody to having a number of talented options to pick from. This should be one of the more exciting battles during camp with a lot of talent at interchangeable spots to choose from.
Chad Pursley is the incumbent but figures to get a strong push from Bryce Wilds who is coming off being redshirted last season. With SMU’s line having a ton of problems last season, and the departures of Taylor Lasecki and Kris Weeks, there is going to be competition all over the line however some of that will come from some of the true freshman during fall camp. For now, this figures to be one of the more competitive battles that will likely stretch into fall camp as well if nobody stands out.
Pass Rushing Defensive End
Justin Lawler figures to have one of the spots locked down after starting all twelve games last year and finishing with a team-high 64 tackles to go along with five sacks. Opposite Lawler, however, there figures to be a strong competition after the departures of Andrew McCleneghen, Cameron Smith and Robert Seals. Jarvis Pruitt will get a look, but so will, redshirt freshman Michael and Delontae Scott, as well as, Hunter Thedford. SMU struggled to get any sort of pressure on the quarterback and will be looking to someone from this group to emerge as a pass rushing option.
Linebacker was a big problem for SMU obviously last year but they will have a lot of competition there beginning this week. SMU will take a close look at Jackson Mitchell, Carlos Carroll, Anthony Rhone, Nick Horton, as well as, Matt McNew to see if they can fix many of the issues they had in run defense last season. With a couple of linebackers arriving in the summer, this will be an interesting battle this spring to see if anyone can take hold of this spot. Look for Jackson Mitchell and Rhone to have the edge early on but this is wide open if someone impresses.
The Star will be another interesting battle to watch likely at fall camp, but this is a battle between RC Cox and Jordan Williams that should pick up a lot of steam beginning this week. Kyran Mitchell saw time there last year, as well as Shakiel Randolph who graduated, but there are now significant question marks after Mitchell’s season-ending injury. That opens the door for RC Cox to get a look, as well as, redshirt freshman Jordan Williams who looks likely to grab hold of the position at some point down the road. This is a position SMU didn’t really get what they were looking for last year from this position and will be looking for someone between Cox and Williams to take hold of the position. Jordan Ward and Myles Duke will battle for this later on too but for now this looks like a 2-horse race for SMU to find their anchor.