The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 4/22

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

2017 DB takes in SMU spring game

By: Billy Embody

2017 DeSoto cornerback Isaiah Stewart made the short trip over to SMU where he's visited before and he enjoyed taking in SMU's spring game.

"It was great. I really liked it. The coaches were real nice. I've been on a visit before and they're real nice so I enjoyed myself. I really liked it. It felt like home."

The big difference in this visit was Stewart's all-access into SMU's team meetings.

"I got to go in the players' meetings and check it out. I saw how everything was first-hand and what they did for their spring game. I really liked it (the game). I saw everyone improving and getting better and listening to what the coach said."

SMU defensive backs coach Jess Loepp impressed Stewart in the meeting and defensive coordinator Van Malone also talked with Stewart.

"He's a good coach. I really think if I went there, he'd take my style of play to another level," Stewart said. "They were just talking to me and asking me how I was doing. He's (Malone) is a real cool guy and he's cool with my dad. We were just talking about the spring game."

The defense and ability to force two turnovers impressed Stewart and thinks they're due for a better year.

"It was really nice. They have a lot of chemistry and they have some seniors so I think they'll be better than they were last year," the 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back said.

SMU's campus impressed Stewart, but the new facilities on the way are also impressive for Stewart.

"It's good. It's only getting better because they're building the indoor, which will probably be done when I'm there. The campus is beautiful. It felt like I was treated well and if I go there, they will only help me in my future with business."

Colorado is the only offer Stewart has right now, but other PAC 12 schools are showing interest this spring. This spring, Stewart wants to work on his technique so he can continue to be versatile.

"Everything is good for me. I can get in the zone or come down into the box and be a run-fit for my defense, but I can also play man at corner. I'm just improving on my technique and staying low in my backpedal and having chemistry on our defense."

2017 quarterback likes SMU spring game visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

SMU already got one commitment from a quarterback this weekend, and hosted another on campus in 2017 Lakeview Centennial HS (Tex.) quarterback Kamron Fields for the spring game. 

“ I liked it a lot, the team looked pretty good and I had a great talk with Coach Morris, Coach Craddock, and Coach Fry,” Fields said. 

The coaching staff stressed to Fields that this offense was made for a more mobile quarterback who could move outside the pocket but still make all the throws. 

“They were saying that the offense is built for me and that they would love to see me as the quarterback,” Fields said, “They really believe that I can make a difference in the program.” 

Despite the struggles by those quarterbacks playing in the game, Fields came away impressed with the offense and believes this is one he would be able to run effectively in the future. 

“I liked it, I can see myself running the offense with the option to pass and run,” Fields said. 

The 6-3, 185-pound quarterback noticed it was a little bit smaller crowd but came in expecting that given it wasn’t a regular season game. 

“It wasn't a big crowd, but I expected that for a spring game. I liked how the players were flying around, and the facilities were nice,” Fields said, “I like the weight room.”

Fields is also not sure if he will be heading back in the summer for a camp or when his next trip to the Hilltop will be. 

He currently holds offers from SMU, Iowa, San Diego State and Nevada.

2017 wide receiver visits for SMU spring game

By: Scott Sanford

Since claiming the American Athletic Conference recruiter of the year title, SMU’s Jess Loepp has continued his impressive work out on the trail.

The second-year secondary coach is has already made an impression on 2017 Muskogee (Okla.) athlete Kamren Curl after just one month of conversations.

“We talk almost everyday so we have a really good relationship,” Curl said.  “He likes my size and how I can be in most plays because of my speed.”

Curl currently plays both ways in high school, but says he’s open to playing on either side of the ball at the next level, which says a lot about his versatility.

Coach Morris was also impressed by Curl’s resume, which is why he extended an offer the 6-foot-2, 176-pound junior after a practice this month.

“That was my first (offer) I got in person from a coach so that was pretty cool,” Curl explained.  “I didn’t really get to see the school’s campus, but I liked the football facility and practice was really live which I really liked.  I was really watching the DB’s because they offered me there so I was watching how they work and how Coach Loepp coaches them.”

While location won’t play a huge factor in the athlete’s decision, the three schools at the top of his list right now are fairly close.

Curl says Oklahoma State and TCU are two schools that are standing out to him and could offer soon.  

But for now, the Mustangs are standing out to him the most out of the schools that have extended offers his way.

“SMU is standing out to me because me and Coach Loepp talk everyday, but Ohio is show a lot of interest as well,” Curl said.  “San Diego State is coming all the way from California for this spring so that really opened my eyes as well.”

Before making a decision, which could come in the summer or even next February, Curl says he’s focused on finding a school that feels like home to him.

“I’m focused on finding a place that has a family environment,” Curl explained.  “I don’t want to go anywhere I’m just going to sit on the sidelines, so I want to go somewhere I want to be.”

Urban DFW Elite guard talks SMU interest, recruitment

By: Patrick Engel

SMU spent most of the first spring live period weekend in Brooklyn for the EYBL. But a few players who SMU has shown interest in played on the adidas uprising circuit in Duncanville last weekend. One was Urban DFW Elite 2017 point guard T.J. Starks who averaged 7.8 points on 50 percent shooting in four games in front of college coaches. Coming into the weekend, his goal was to prove that he and other Dallas-area players are worth noticing.

“Being from Dallas, people don’t consider us a basketball city,” said Starks, who also plays for Lancaster (Texas) High School. “I want to show people that this is a basketball city and there are some good guards coming out of the city. I feel like I’m playing with some good guards and we’re gonna prove this is the city where it’s at.”

Starks is getting some attention after his first weekend of AAU ball. He picked up an offer from North Texas following the weekend, which joined Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma and Southern on his offer list. Arizona State, Nebraska, Oregon, SMU, TCU are showing interest in him.

SMU has been talking to Starks for a while. He visited SMU for its opening game this season and then for the win vs. Michigan. He has a good relationship with assistant coach K.T. Turner.

“SMU has a great atmosphere,” Starks said. “They have great players and a great program. The fan base too. If I went there, I feel like I’d love it. I wouldn’t mind going to SMU, but that’s not what I’m worried about right now.”

The 6-foot-2 Starks said he has the strongest relationships with Arizona State assistant Levi Watkins and Louisiana Tech assistant Corey Barker and head coach Eric Konkol. He won’t start planning visits until after the AAU season sends. When asked about a leader, Starks listed Arizona State Oregon, Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma, but said it’s not firm.

“Any school. I just want to go to college,” Starks said.

Kelley checks in on SMU at spring game

By: Billy Embody

2017 Corsicana quarterback Kishawn Kelley continues to ready for his own spring practices, but made the trip to SMU for the spring game to check in on the team and saw improvement this past weekend.

"Just at the quarterback position. I didn't get to see Matt perform, but the other quarterbacks' mindset is improving so that's a good thing," Kelley said.

Joe Craddock and Claude Mathis talked with Kelley while on the visit, who continues to work at his game.

"Coach Craddock said he's going to come to the school in the next two weeks for spring practices. They always tell me that I'm on the top of the list so I try to hold on to that and try to get myself better and for them."

Boise State and Oklahoma State continue to show interest in Kelley, who has SMU on top still. A big reason why is Claude Mathis.

"We haven't talked within a week, but it's always what's up when we do. We talk usually every couple days."

The family atmosphere is what's driving Kelley's interest in SMU.

"They always have that family atmosphere so I always like that when I come."

Kelley wants to put in a lot of work this spring and while he has SMU on top, he's not ready for recruitment to be over yet.

"Just trying to see if I can get myself better to get to this camaraderie around here. Always got to pony up! It's kind of slow though right now so I just want to take it slow and make sure everything is right before I make my final commitment."

2018 SG updates SMU interest, recruitment

By: Billy Embody

2018 Windward (Calif.) shooting guard Jules Bernard talked with Pony Stampede at the adidas Uprising this past weekend in Dallas about his recruitment, game and SMU interest.

As far as his recruitment, SMU, Alabama, Colorado State, USC, UCLA, Utah, Nevada, Vanderbilt and Arizona State have offered Bernard, who is ranked as a 4-star by Scout.

"I still have the same nine offers. I've talked most with UCLA and USC because that's my hometown so it's easier, but I've talked with Arizona looking to go see their facilities and Utah. The recruiting process has been good and humbling."

The two local schools have been showing the most interest in him so far and they've got a good mix of what he's looking for.

"USC and UCLA. They're great schools and not only are they good with athletics, but good with academics. Lately, USC has had a winning attitude so that mindset is what I like to see."

SMU still comes to Windward to check on Bernard, but he hasn't heard from the staff as much as he was before.

"Not as much as before. I still see them and come to our school practices every once and a while."

His game has continued to develop as he's put on more weight and strength since last summer.

"More confident with handling the ball and the point. I've gotten a lot stronger and because of that, driving to the basket has become a bigger part of my game so just my confidence and getting stronger as I grow." 

Lehman tight end visits SMU spring game

By: Andrew Hattersley

Saturday was a big day for recruits with and without offers and one of those in attendance hoping to receive an offer was 2017 Lehman HS (Tex.) tight end Tyler Henderson who loved meeting the staff and a couple of the players. 

“I just have to say the coaching staff is great, just the feel around the coaches it was really comfortable being around them,” Henderson said, “The facilities are great, I talked to a few of the players and they told me a little bit more about the program, I just like the values that are at SMU and just hoping one day I can play for them.”

The players offered Henderson some advice and also a word of encouragement about the recruiting process. 

“They just talked about the things they go by and individually just to keep working, getting better in the offseason, just make sure I come to their spring camps and do the best I can,” Henderson said. 

The 6-4, 215-pound tight end also got the chance to talk to the players about what the coaching staff is looking for out of this recruiting class.  

“I talked to the coaching staff and the players and they just said they are looking for highlights types of players and they have plenty of them now,” Henderson said, “They just said that’s what the coaches are looking for, I just had a really nice comfortable feeling about the coaches.” 

Henderson stressed that he really felt there was a family atmosphere about this coaching staff and that both sides could relate to each other very well. 

 “As soon as I walked in I felt like I was a kid that went there, they took me under their wing and I felt at home,” Henderson said. 

Henderson was also impressed with the performance of Jeremiah Gaines and the Kyle product saw similarities in the way he was being used at his high school. 

“The way they used him is kind of similar to what we do at my school, like kind of the h-back position that goes out for routes but lines up in the backfield,” Henderson said, “I really like the position because you get to show your athletic ability and maneuverability, he played well I think he scored a pretty long touchdown in the spring game.” 

Henderson does not currently have any offers but is hoping to impress some coaches this summer and pick up some more offers. 

The athletic tight end will also be back to visit SMU for their camp on the 9th at Lake Travis. 

2017 quarterback visits for spring game

By: Billy Embody

2017 Frisco Lone Star quarterback Jason Shelley is gearing up for spring practices, but stopped by SMU's spring game to take it in.

"It was fun. Watching it, I could see they were a little sloppy, but I know they'll get it right this fall," Shelley said.

As far as schools keeping tabs on Shelley, it's a little slow before his spring practices begin in early May, but a few schools have said they'll stop by.

"SMU, Southern Mississippi and Virginia have all said they'll be there to watch."

Shelley quickly caught up with Joe Craddock after the spring game and it was just the usual for the pair that is developing a solid relationship.

"They just talked about the game and everything and checked in on me."

Cypress Lakes wide receiver takes in SMU spring game

By: Patrick Engel

SMU hosted a large group of prospects for its spring game and final junior day of the year last Saturday. 2017 Katy (Texas) Cypress Lakes wide receiver Nate Green was among the visitors. From the facilities to the coaching staff, Green left thoroughly impressed.

“I love the campus and the new indoor field and facility that they’re going to be building,” Green said. “I like coach Morris and the staff. I like how they established the family culture and how they stress academics.”

While on a tour and meeting with the coaches before the game, Green saw plans of SMU’s proposed indoor practice facility and Ford Stadium renovations.

“I liked how it’s different and it looks great,” Green said. This program looks like it’s going to stick around.”

The impressive new plans further gave Green the impression that SMU is serious about turning the program into a winner, but he said SMU’s family culture and the academics stand out to him the most.

Green liked what he saw on the field during the spring game too. Plenty of young players shined at his position. Big-bodied wide receiver Alex Honey had a highlight-reel touchdown catch, but quick slot receiver James Proche had the most catches on the team. Green, at 5-foot-10 and 162 pounds, is mostly a slot receiver.

“The offense was good,” Green said. “I like how they mixed it up. They have a passing threat and a running threat.”

SMU was Green’s first visit of the spring, but he is planning to visit Abilene Christian, Texas Tech and Baylor later this spring or after school ends. Green doesn’t have any offers, but SMU and ACU are the teams talking to him most.

2018 safety visits SMU spring game

By: Demetrio Teniente

Though just a sophomore, 2018 Owasso safety Wayne Jones is already getting a lot of attention.

Last weekend he picked up his first offer from UTSA before heading down to the Hilltop to catch SMU’s spring game.

“I can’t put it into words,” Jones said. “[Getting that first offer] is a blessing.”

Riding high from picking up his first offer, Jones went to SMU looking forward to the opportunity to visit what he says is a ‘very good school.’

“[The visit] was good—I really enjoyed it,” Jones said. “I liked seeing the facilities during the tour and meeting the coaches. I can see myself playing there. I really liked the team and the coaches.”

It was Jones first time at SMU and also his first real contact with anyone from the University.

“[My dad and I] talked to coach Malone for a while when the game was over,” he said. “Coach Malone is a really good guy and is very smart. He told me not to worry too much about the recruiting process. He said just worry about my team and all the other things will come to me.”

Jones plans on making a couple more visits, particularly to Kansas State and TCU. But he left the metroplex with a very strong impression from Chad Morris and his Mustangs.

“SMU is a really good school and football program,” Jones said. “Like I said, I can see myself playing there. I really like the coaches. I would love to be a part of a school that is up and coming—that would be cool to be a part of.”  

2017 point guard talks recruitment

2016 Hanover-Horton (Mich.) point guard Jay McMiller had a bit of an off game when Pony Stampede talked with him after an overtime loss at adidas Uprising this past weekend, but he says it's about the response that is what he focuses on.

"Just as a team, we missed shot. I don't want to ever put it on the other team and what they did. We missed shots. We got the shots we wanted, but we didn't hit them. We had some turnovers, myself included, but if we hit shots, we win by 20."

As far as the 6-4 guard's game, Mcmiller was solid in transition, but did have a few turnovers. His shot was cold early, but heated up later in the game as the team came back to force overtime. 

"It's beautiful. It's a lot transition, a lot of passing, a lot of smiling, but it's not about how it is when it's good. It's about how it is when it's bad and we get up tomorrow and respond."

Purdue, Nebraska, Nevada, Boise State and others are showing interest in the late-bloomer. Eastern Illinois, Wayne State and Cleveland State have offered Mcmiller. The coaches keeping in contact with Mcmiller said they'll be there to see what he could bring to their teams.

"They're telling me I look good and that they need guards. They will be here watching and telling me to play well and do what I do."

SMU is keeping tabs on Mcmiller's game from afar as many programs will be this spring.

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