The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 5/6

Come inside Pony Stampede's Hilltop Review with the latest on SMU football recruiting targets.

Former SMU commit updates status

By: Patrick Engel

In most cases, when a player decommits from a school, that school stands little chance of getting back. With Henderson (Texas) wide receiver Trestan Ebner and SMU, that’s not the case. Ebner reopened his recruitment on April 9 after visiting SMU, but his relationship with the SMU coaches still remains strong. That’s why Ebner couldn’t decommit while on the visit.

“I couldn’t do it face to face because I didn’t want to ruin their mood,” Ebner said. “I really like their coaching staff and I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”

SMU assistants Justin Stepp and Jess Loepp have not yet been out to see Ebner since the spring recruiting period opened up, but Ebner is still in regular contact with them and still is interested in SMU. The staff is planning to come see him. He said the coaches was the biggest factor in his December commitment to SMU.

“No doubt,” Ebner said when asked if SMU was still an option. “It’s pretty much the same. We talk all the time. I really enjoy it…It’s fun to see what they’re doing, what they’re building and how good they’re going to be in the next few years.”

Kansas was Ebner’s only other offer at the time he committed. But Arkansas offered in the winter and he visited Texas for a February junior day. Since March, he’s picked up offers from Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Syracuse and TCU.

“I just felt that with the offers coming in, I needed to open it up and slow down,” Ebner said. “It wasn’t anything with SMU, I just felt like I had to make better decisions. It was more of a personal thing where I felt it was best for me if I wasn’t committed.”

TCU, Alabama, UTSA are among the many schools that have visited Ebner this spring. Texas tight ends coach Jeff Traylor has visited him this spring and has been recruiting him for a few months. Ebner says they talk multiple times per week, but the Longhorns haven’t offered yet.

“I think Texas might be close to offering,” Ebner said. “I think they want me at receiver. He (Traylor) says he’s pushing for an offer, and it might come soon.”

Alabama is one other school Ebner has talked with about an offer, but the coaches want to see him work out first.

Ebner said he’d like to visit TCU and Texas, as well as get back to SMU. With track state championships in the Austin area on May 12, Ebner said he might head over to Texas for an unofficial that weekend.

An ankle injury limited Ebner to four full games in 2015, so he’s eager to prove to any team that comes to see him that he’s 100 percent healthy.

The 6-foot, 188-pound Ebner is a three-star prospect and the 93rd-ranked receiver nationally.

2017 wide receiver getting SMU interest
© Greg Powers

By: Andrew Hattersley

It’s been a couple months since 2017 Centennial HS (Tex.) wide receiver Kenny Nelson visited SMU but the staff has been keeping contact with Nelson and continues to develop the relationship. 

“Things have been going great, they’ve been sending me letters, I just went up there maybe like 2-3 months ago and I liked it, it was great up there,” Nelson said. 

Nelson talks quite frequently with a couple of the different offensive coaches frequently on Twitter. 

 “I talk to the Tight Ends coach on Twitter, he hits me up a lot and I talk with the receiver coach at SMU,” Nelson said. 

From getting to talk to the coaches, as well as with his visit that he took, Nelson has been highly impressed with all aspects of SMU. 

“It was great, SMU is a great school, the academia is great too and their football program is really on the come up and I think they’re going to be great for many years to come,” Nelson said, “The tight ends was really nice, he was just talking about how he was going to look at my film and see what he liked and that he really liked me but that was really it, I talked with the receiver coach briefly as well but that was it.” 

Overall the recruitment has been going well in Nelson’s mind however he has just picked up the one offer from Jackson State. 

“It’s been getting pretty hectic but I’m just trying to put my name out there but it’s getting pretty hectic,” Nelson said. 

Nelson is still not sure of what his timeline looks like but he does plan to wait at least over the summer to see what offers he picks up. 

“Definitely, I’m just waiting it out and seeing how the season goes, this season I really feel like I can be a game changer and this year I just want to show the college coaches what I can be,” Nelson said. 

After coming off a subpar season, Nelson is working on improving his speed and trying to get his hips to be as fluid as possible. 

Denton safety grabs SMU offer

By: Scott Sanford

It took almost a year, but after attending multiple camps on the Hilltop, and staying in contact with the staff, 2017 Guyer (Tex.) safety Thabo Mwaniki picked up an offer from Coach Jess Loepp and the Mustangs.

The North Texas native originally started talking to the old staff before his sophomore year, but made a point of meeting the new staff last summer while at a camp on campus.

Since meeting the new staff, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound defensive back has kept in constant contact with Coach Loepp, and the two have developed a good friendship.

With the numerous trips that he has taken to the Hilltop, Mwaniki has also had plenty of time to explore the campus that he likes so much.

“It’s a nice place and I love that it’s close to home,” Mwaniki said.  “I went to a junior day and saw the new practice facility, which is going to be really nice and cool.  We also had a kid from my school, Alex Honey, who plays there now so that’s convenient.  I just love it.”

And while Mwaniki has not had the chance to talk to Honey about his experience on the Hilltop, he knows that he could be a part of special if he’s a part of a big turnaround.

“Everyone is bringing in new players, so it would be kind of nice to go into a program and turn it around,” Mwaniki explained.  “Starting the foundation would be fun.”

With spring ball wrapping up for the rising senior, Mwaniki is actually getting close to making a decision in his recruitment.

With offers from SMU, Colorado, Colorado State, UNT, New Mexico, UTSA, Army and Air Force, Mwaniki says he will try to make a decision by the time summer starts.

And while he admits SMU is in a “good spot”, the defensive back’s choice will come down to a few things when all is said and done.

“You go to a lot of places and they tell you that you’re not signing for four years, it’s a lifetime commitment, so I just really want to make sure I’m in a good spot for my after-college life,” Mwaniki said.  “Academics is big for me.” 

2018 athlete talks SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

SMU has been fairly active these past couple of weeks following the spring game with a number of offers coming out, and one of their biggest was to 2018 Angleton HS (Tex.) athlete B.J. Foster

“They’re pretty nice, one of our coaches went there and he gave me some pretty good feedback on them, I look forward to visiting them soon” Foster said,”I was excited, that’s just another school that I can look forward to going to later on.”

Foster has not got a chance to talk to the staff much yet but plans to get in contact with them next week. 

“No I haven’t got the chance to talk to them very much but I think I’m going to give them a call maybe sometime next week,” Foster said. 

Foster is still in the process of learning about them but has heard very positive things from his coach about the school overall. 

“He said they’re a great school, they have some good players and they compete very well,” Foster said. 

So far the offers have come in very quickly for the Texas running back and defensive back. He currently has offers from Baylor, Arizona State, Houston, UNC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and UTSA. 

On his visit to SMU, Foster is eager to see what the relationship is like between the coaches and players, as well as, check out the campus and academic side as well. 

“Looking forward to some good coaches, not too shaggy, players, the area, how the coaches respect the kids and how the kids respect the coaches,” Foster said. 

Foster said after next season he would likely look to make a decision about where to attend but left that open for the future. 

When it does come time to make a decision, the factors in play are largely similar to what he’ll be looking for on his visits.

“How the coaches coach their kids, not just producing football players but produce young men and make them successful after football.” 

McKinney Boyd running back checks out SMU

By: Demetrio Teniente

The recruiting process is just getting started for 2017 McKinney Boyd running back Tyron Matthews, so when he made a visit to SMU, it wasn’t just his first time on the Hilltop—it was his first time making a college visit.  

“It’s a really nice school,” Matthews said. “It was my first time going on any visit. I likedit. Chad Morris seems like a man with a plan. He came in and has changed things. He told us about how he got there and he told us about the other coaches. I liked him a lot.”

Matthews says that so far there hasn’t been a lot of contact between him and SMU, but during his visit he got to talk with running backs coach Claude Mathis.   

“He was a really cool dude,” Matthews said. “He told me that they are looking at a lot of people, so I need to keep up my grades and come to a camp.”

One of the things that is important to Matthews is a program with strong traiditon, something he says he can tell Morris is building at SMU.  

“He is making things exciting and starting new traditions—I like that,” Matthews said. “He is trying to make it great again.”

Matthews says that he isn’t making any visits until summer. At the moment, the only schools he has had contact with are SMU and UTEP.   

SMU commit getting major interest

By: Patrick Engel

2017 Fort Worth (Texas) Timber Creek offensive tackle Alan Ali committed to SMU in March, but that hasn’t stopped other coaches from visiting him this spring.

“I’ve had about 14 teams come by in the last week. “I had Texas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Kansas and a bunch of others come by last week. They’ve liked what they saw and definitely still have high interest in me. They’re going to keep recruiting me even though I’m committed.”

Ali has told the coaches that have come by that he is committed to SMU, but he hasn’t told them to get lost either.

“I’m open to listening to them, I want to still be recruited,” Ali said. “But I’m committed obviously.”

None of the schools that has visited has offered yet, and the three-star lineman said there isn’t one that’s sticking out by aggressively recruiting him. He said his relationship with the SMU coaches is the strongest one by far. SMU offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and offensive line coach Dustin Fry came to see Ali last week. Ali has also visited SMU twice since he committed.

“We’ve become really close, Ali said. “They’re basically like my family now so it’s really great with them.”

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ali committed after visiting for SMU’s first spring practice. His return visits gave him an even better look at how SMU operates on the field. 

“It pretty much confirmed everything, every time I went back,” Ali said. “I noticed how the coaches treated the players even when things weren’t going good. They weren’t trying to tear them down, always building them back up. That what I really paid attention to.”

Despite Ali’s commitment to SMU, the staff is still recruiting him as hard as it was before. Recruiting today involves staying in regular contact even after getting a commitment. That’s how Ali can tell he’s still a priority for SMU.

“It says a lot. They want to treat me like family,” Ali said. “It puts a good thought in my head that they want to continue to impress me.”

Louisiana wide receiver talks SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

2017 West Jefferson HS (LA) wide receiver Damien Degruy received his 9th offer earlier this week from SMU only it was to play on the other side of the ball from SMU assistant coach Buddy Wyatt

“It’s great getting an offer, he was telling me where I could be playing if I go there I could play a standup defensive end or outside linebacker,” Degruy said, “I thought that was great that’s something I like to do.” 

Degruy does not currently know much about the school but plans to take a visit up in a couple of weeks. 

 “I really don’t know that much about I really don’t know much about them,” Degruy said, “It should be this summer.” 

When the 6-3, 220-pound Louisiana native does come to visit, he will be paying close attention to the coaches’ relationship with their players and the academic scene on campus. 

“The environment, academics, seeing if it is a fit for me and the coaching staff,” Degruy said. 

Degruy has seen his recruitment pick up in recent weeks and currently has 11 offers including ones from ULM, Memphis, South Alabama, UTSA, Jackson State, McNeese State, Kentucky Christian University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, SFA and Arkansas State. 

Degruy plans to wait until after the summer to make any sort of decisions about where he will attend college, possibly waiting as long as the end of next season. 

“I’m going to wait it out over the summer, I’m going to wait until probably the end of the season or midseason,” Degruy said. 

Degruy is planning to attend camps at LA Tech, ULM, Tennessee and Alabama over the summer. 

2017 safety checks out SMU spring practice

By: Demetrio Teniente

SMU welcomed many first time visitors this spring, among them was 2017 Sugar Land Dulles free safety Alex Pradia.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I really felt at home, it was just a welcoming feeling. The campus is really beautiful, but what really caught my eye was the weight room. SMU keeps track of their athlete’s bodies and make sure they are all in good health. They have great nutrition plans to make sure you see the gains you want on the field.”

Pradia says one of the things that really stuck out to him during his visit was how close the Mustangs seemed.

“The team looks and sounds like they have real good chemistry,” he said. “They play as if they know each other and trust their brothers on the field.”

Pradia has been in contact with SMU for about three months and says he got to meet with defensive coordinator Van Malone during his visit.  

“He seemed really interested in me,” Pradia said. “He said he watched my film and thought I was a very explosive player and strong safety. And he said he was going to drop by my school the next time he visited Houston.”

It’s hard for anyone to come away from an SMU visit without taking notice of head coach Chad Morris.   

“He is bringing such a strong culture to SMU,” Pradia said. “He wants everyone to have that winning mentality and to be strong people on and off the field.”

Pradia’s godfather, Michael Charles , was a fullback at SMU in the ‘80s and paved the way for Erick Dickerson.

“It would be an honor to potentially to play for SMU and continue that legacy,” Pradia said.

He has also been invited to several camps this summer and plans on visiting Midwestern State in early July.

SMU offers Louisiana 2018 defensive lineman

By: Billy Embody

2018 McDonogh 35 (LA) defensive lineman Devin Winters noticed an SMU coach checking out practice yesterday and his coach had good news for him after practice.

"They had a coach out there yesterday. They watched us and that was about it. My coach told me after practice and I was excited about it and posted it on Twitter."

Winters doesn't know much about SMU and has only grabbed a Cincinnati offer in addition now to his SMU offer.

On the field, Winters brings an intense pass rush to the field at 6-4, 270 pounds.

"Just speed and aggressiveness out there. I've got the talent and the work ethic. I've got that speed rush down. I need to work on getting off the ball and hand placement."

Winters plans on taking visits this summer, but hasn't decided where yet as he's focused on spring practice for now. 

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