2017 SMU Big Board: Defensive Line

Billy takes a look at SMU's defensive line class for 2017 and remaining options on the board.

SMU's defensive line class for 2017 features three versatile players at the moment for SMU and depending on where their bodies take them, could play — for the most part — any spot on the defensive line. After signing a defensive tackle heavy class in 2016, SMU has turned their attention to adding more defensive ends that are disruptive and can make plays on the edge. There's still one more spot at the moment for 2017 for SMU and I'd imagine the staff would like it to be a defensive end, but could end up taking a defensive tackle if the player is good enough. This is the most wide-open position left for the 2017 class and will be fun to monitor as the staff looks for that final piece.

The Commits

1. George Ranch DE Toby Ndukwe


Ndukwe is the most disruptive player in the class and will start off on the weakside, where he'll bring length and as he develops physically, versatility to be moved around. Scout's Gabe Brooks says that Ndukwe is a scheme-versatile player, where he could play as a standup, odd-front rusher, a weakside end or even strongside when he develops. SMU's staff has zeroed in on that versatility in this class after mainly focusing on interior defensive linemen last cycle. After earning Defensive MVP honors in last year's state title game, Ndukwe will be one to watch that could blow up as his senior season progresses.

2. Cypress Ranch DL Harrison Loveless


Loveless will start out at strongside defensive end when he gets to campus, but I don't doubt the plan to put weight on him and move him to defensive tackle eventually. Loveless plays with good leverage and uses his hands well, which is key for shooting gaps especially along the interior. As he gets bigger, he'll need to maintain the quickness he shows on film. Loveless picked SMU over Houston and really built a strong relationship with the staff before committing.

3. Bay City DT Jordan Gipson


The relative unknown of the 2017 defensive line class. We're still working on information on him overall, but SMU expects him to grow into a defensive tackle. I love Gipson's length and his quickness on film. He's got plenty of room to add weight to his frame and will be a nice add to the interior of the line, where he can also take his time developing physically with the 2016 depth ahead of him.

Priority Recruits

1. Arlington Heights DE Mark Brown


A player SMU has had plenty of time to watch with 2016 signee Patrick Jones playing next to him is Mark Brown. He's built out of the same mold as Ndukwe, but with longer legs. He's got that ability to use his long arms to disengage from the lineman blocking him. Brown would be the dream land to round out the class as he'd really solidify the depth at defensive end for the future. Brown is quiet on his recruitment and doesn't have a visit scheduled, but SMU is definitely in the mix.

2. Brenham DE Marqez Bimage


SMU was one of the early ones to compete for the Houston commit and the staff is still after him. A weakside defensive end at SMU, Bimage is in that hybrid phase right now much like Ndukwe and Brown, but hasn't filled out his frame as much. He's really talented and keeping his recruitment pretty much open despite being committed to Houston. If SMU can get him back on campus this summer, they might take a commitment if he wanted to flip later in the summer.

3. Steele DT Joshua Croslen


Croslen is a player to watch this year out of Steele that could blow up. He's got the body, the production and some nice offers already. He'd be a player that with another year before college, could come in and contribute right away. Croslen's frame will fill out even more and he could be a force along the interior of the defense. It'd be huge to get into Steele for SMU as well and Croslen is a player that would be a great start to building a pipeline.

4. Lancaster DT Noah Jones


Noah Jones is similar to Loveless as he's already got his frame filled out to be a strongside defensive end, but projects as a defensive tackle at SMU. Lancaster has a ton of talent and SMU has been trying to land a kid or two from there since Morris arrived. Jones is a beast and would be another immediate impact kid much like Ken McLaurin in 2016. 

Longshot Recruits

1. Ranchview DE Dayo Odeyingbo


Odeyingbo is a kid that SMU has pushed for big time as Jess Loepp and Van Malone have both been by to see Odeyingbo, but during the latest round of cuts, SMU was left off his list. SMU could climb back into his list of options and he'd be a monster land, but if SMU were to land him, it'd be a huge coup. Odeyingbo is probably the best athlete out of the group that's left on the board right now.

2. Plano East DT Deiontae Watts


Watts is a player that has a great relationship with the SMU staff, loves the academics and isn't opposed to going somewhere near by. As he continues to pick up major offers, Watts could push SMU out of the mix, but much like his teammate last year, Audie Omotosho, if SMU keeps recruiting him until the end, you never know if the staff can land him. 

3. Manvel DE Alfred Bryant


Another target that has plenty of the big boys in the mix, Bryant is a monster and getting a chance to land another Manvel kid would be huge. SMU was the first to offer and had Bryant on campus for a visit this spring. That's a great sign and if SMU can win this battle, the staff would have landed a well-known gamechanger for the defensive line.

5. Houston Christian DE Josh Rogers


Rogers has definitely blown up over the last few months, but SMU has the relationships, being a school that was early to offer and teammate Harrison Barton on the team now. Rogers would be one of the biggest lands in the Morris era and would address the strongside defensive end spot and defensive tackle as he continues to grow. Rogers is a big-time player and SMU could use a big-time player along the defensive line.

6. Hendrickson DT Nelson Mbanasor


The Oklahoma State commit has visited SMU plenty of times, but committed to Oklahoma State after spring. If things change for him, SMU could be a school he looks to.

Under the Radar Recruits to Watch

1. Katy DE Ryder Anderson


Anderson has an SMU offer, but is really lean and the staff might be slow playing him a bit. At 6-7, he's really long, but has to put more weight on to compete at the next level. Anderson should be one of the best players on another talented Katy defense. SMU is in a good spot, but he's a player they could wait on.

2. Oologah-Talala (Okla.) DE Brock Martin


Martin's recruitment has been quiet on the SMU front and he's an out of state kid, but the staff offered Martin this spring. He's got the size to be a weakside defensive end at the start and one that SMU can wait on a bit to make a decision.

3. Lancaster DT Treston Price


Price picked up plenty of SMU interest and if the staff were really to put an emphasis on defensive tackle with the final spot and miss on some other targets, Price might be a kid they look at depending on how his senior year goes.

4. Keller DE Spencer Misko


Misko is a kid that has some solid size and has begun to pick up on the recruiting trail. SMU can definitely wait to offer, but Misko has visited plenty of times and is interested for sure.


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