The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 4/15

Come inside another Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest SMU recruiting news and updates.

Benson preparing for SMU offense, watches spring practice

By: Scott Sanford

A little more than two months removed from National Signing Day, 2016 SMU wide receiver signee Brandon Benson is fully entrenched in his preparations for joining his teammates on the Hilltop this summer.  

Besides running track for his high school, the 6-foot-2, 193-pound wideout has been working with a receiver coach to ready his body and game for the next level.

Benson has already added nearly 10 pounds during the offseason, and he hopes to surpass 200 pounds before getting to campus. 

Finally healthy after spending two months rehabbing a pulled hamstring, Benson is also focused on the new offense he will run as a Mustang.

While he has felt overwhelmed at times, Benson added he’s happy to get some help when he needs it.

“It’s very different.  In high school, you go in there and learn day by day,” Benson said.  “But now, before you even get there they’re telling you to learn (the playbook), so it’s sometimes overwhelming.  Luckily I can talk to current players and they help me get it done.”

The Central Texas native consistently talks with his teammates and new coaches, but he’s also had the chance to check out his new team at a few practices.

“I saw a lot of potential,” Benson explained.  “There’s a lot of work we need to do as a team, but overall I loved it. I watched the receivers definitely, but I also watch the defensive backs because to be a great receiver you need to know the people you go against.”  

Even just since their last game in December, Benson said he noticed a difference in the way the Mustangs are preparing and carrying themselves.

“That’s what starts a great team—everybody playing for each other,” Benson said.  “The offensive line is getting better, and same with the receivers and quarterbacks so I like the way they’re coming together.”

Now, Benson is focused on getting himself ready for what lies ahead during summer ball.  

And while putting on weight is important to the receiver, it’s not what he’s most worried about.

“I’ve been doing a whole lot of running,” Benson said with a laugh.  “Talking to players, the hardest part isn’t the weight lifting, but the getting in shape.  I’ve been getting mentally prepared for that.”

Fort Worth linebacker checks out SMU

By: Demetrio Teniente

Two weeks ago, 2017 North Crowley Linebacker Kevin Ellis made his way down to the Hilltop to visit SMU during one of the team’s spring practices.

It was the first time Ellis had a chance to see SMU’s campus, or to meet with the coaches and players.

“I loved the visit,” Ellis said. “It’s a good school.  I really liked seeing the new facility—that was very exciting. I got to meet the coaches and players too.”

Throughout his recruiting process Ellis has mostly been talking to SMU assistant coach Claude Mathis, who was the head coach of DeSoto High School’s football program for seven years before joining Chad Morris’ staff at SMU.

Ellis had the opportunity to get to know some of the coaches, including Mathis, better than he was able than before and left SMU, very impressed.  

  “Mathis is really nice,” Ellis said. “I like him, he is pretty cool. And I think Coach Morris will get the program to where it needs to be. He is a good coach.”

One of the biggest things Ellis remembers is the new technology SMU is incorporating in their player development.

“There was this thing in the weight room they showed us, that could track our movements,” Ellis said. “Then it would show you, and you’d know what body part you needed to work on—that was pretty cool.”

Ellis says he currently getting interest from Kansas, UConn, and Colorado and that he has an offer from Robert Morris University.

 He also says, he doesn’t have any  visits planned, but he thinks he might attend some camps this summer.  

2017 linebacker loving SMU

By: Scott Sanford

It was only one visit, but 2017 North Crowley linebacker De'Quallon Jenkins saw all he needed to see to know SMU felt a lot like home.

The junior linebacker took in one of SMU’s prospect days and was impressed by what he saw on campus and in the football facilities.

And like a lot of prospects, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker prospect was impressed by the new atmosphere he noticed. 

“I saw a lot of things and heard a lot of things that I like,” Jenkins said.  “Instead of bring you in as a player, they bring you in and want you to be a part of the family.  It’s a real close community.”

While on campus, the DFW native got to know Coach Mathis and Coach McDaniel who both asked Jenkins to return for a camp this summer.

“They’re really laid back and really easy to talk to,” Jenkins said about the two coaches.”

Jenkins has been in contact with coaches at Oklahoma State, Texas State and Central Arkansas, but the academics at SMU put them at the top of his list at this point.

“They have my major, and they’re one of the top business schools in the world, so that’s really attractive,” Jenkins said.  “To get a degree from SMU would be huge for my job after football.”

The linebacker is still looking for his first offer, but he thinks in time, at least one coach will see enough to finally pull the trigger.

Bryan athlete checks out SMU, wants to hear more

By: Billy Embody

2017 Bryan (Tex.) athlete Joseph Hedge made his way to SMU this past weekend to take in spring practice and catch up with the coaches, who set up his visit.

Justin Stepp and Claude Mathis talked with Hedge while Archie McDaniel set up Hedge’s visit to SMU.

“Hopefully, I can start hearing from them more and all that. Coach Stepp said he was going to come up in two weeks to watch me in Spring and then go from there,” the 6-foot, 187-pound receiver said. 

SMU’s offense intrigued Hedge, who liked the physical practice that the SMU players went through, but did have some critique.

“The offense had like a real physical practice. There was a lot of good coaching out there,” Hedge said. “The offense was out there and the receivers were dropping balls they should have caught though. It was a good practice besides the receivers not making some catches they should have.”

SMU’s campus and facilities impressed Hedge as well.

“It was a very beautiful campus. I liked the locker room and facilities and all that. I liked the food court. It looked real good,” Hedge said. “The dorms made me feel like I could see myself there for four years in a place I could fit in.”

Everyone’s attitude plus the excitement of a new football indoor facility has Hedge liking what SMU is selling.

“I liked how they were saying they were going to make a new indoor facility. I liked how all the players and everyone showing me around had a great attitude.”

North Texas has shown interest in Hedge, who will visit UNT this weekend. Hedge will be back in June to camp at SMU.

Hedge had over 700 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns on the season as well as logging time on defense.

“I bring the intensity to the field. I bring speed and quickness to the field. I can play both sides of the ball whether it’s receiver or safety.”

San Angelo quarterback takes in SMU practice

By: Demetrio Teniente

With SMU’s spring football schedule coinciding with a lot of prospects’ down time, many recruits have been able to drop by the Hilltop to check out the Mustangs during practice. 

Two weeks ago, 2017 Central High School quarterback Cal Vincent had a chance to see how Chad Morris is running things at SMU. 

“It was my first time visiting the coaches, but I had been on campus before,” Vincent said. “It is really awesome—it’s hard not to like SMU’s campus, it’s beautiful.”  

This time around, Vincent got to tour the campus a little more and got to see more of the behind the scenes stuff with the football program.  

“Getting to be around the team and being on the field more—just getting to see what they were doing and the energy that was around them was the biggest thing I got from this visit,” Vincent said.  “Getting to actually see them practice was really a big eye opener.” 

The 6-1, 169 pound dual-threat quarterback says he has been talking to SMU assistant coach Jess Loepp throughout the majority of his recruitment process so far. 

“That whole coaching staff is pretty awesome and I really like coach Loepp,” Vincent said. “He has been really straight forward with me throughout the recruiting process. He is just a great guy. I got to meet with coach Loepp and coach Morris and got to hear what they had to say. I was really impressed with their whole staff; I think they really have the program going in the right direction.”

Vincent currently doesn’t hold any offers, but he expects that to change soon and he says he is getting a lot of attention from Rice, Abilene Christian, Texas State, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth. 

At the moment, he isn’t sure if when or where he will be making more visits. 

“With spring football it will be hard to make some of the visits,” he said. “And then we have 7-on-7 after that.” 


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