The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 6/10

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

Wisconsin transfer updates recruitment, SMU interest

By: Andrew Hattersley

Wisconsin transfer and former Jean Ribault (FL) quarterback D.J. Gillins is not only preparing for his upcoming season at Pearl River junior college, he is also hard at work choosing where he will head next. 

“It’s been going pretty good, I’ve been hearing from different schools literally like weekly or even monthly,” the Pearl River quarterback said. 

Gillins has been hearing quite a bit from Ole Miss, Troy, SMU, New Mexico, Memphis and Minnesota, and is planning to take some unofficial visits to Ole Miss, Troy and Memphis in the coming weeks. 

Gillins was supposed to take an official visit to SMU last week before rescheduling but is nonetheless still looking forward to the visit. 

“I was going to take an official last week but something came up at SMU so I probably will take an official to SMU,” Gillins said before listing some of his key points he’ll be looking at, “Team chemistry, see how the team reacts with each other and stuff like that, main thing is team, the offense, how it is run, and see how the team gels together.” 

Although all the schools are pretty much even, and Gillins is still planning to commit during his season, SMU has jumped out to a slight lead based on the opportunity he would have to come in and compete for the starting job. 

“All pretty much even, I would probably say that SMU has impressed me the most,” Gillins said, “They’re excited, they think with me coming in the program will be right on schedule as in on the rise and I think so too they want me to come in and compete for the starting position in the spring.”

Finding the right situation is crucial for Gillins as he wants to find a school with chemistry but also provides an avenue for him to play early. 

“Just want to make sure the head coach wants me to play, I’m trying to go in and play right away and compete for a starting spot, not sit,” Gillins said, “Really just getting on the field and playing, I want to get to a school I have a good chance at getting to start and know that none of the coaches are against me.”

Louisiana wide receiver talks SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

SMU increased its presence in Louisiana this spring, sending out about 10 offers to 2017 and 2018 players in the state. Among them was 2018 New Orleans (La.) McDonogh 35 wide receiver Lawrence Keys.

SMU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt visited Keys’ school during the spring. 

“The offer actually came through my coach since I was in class during the time,” Keys said. “He had told me they (SMU) had offered me. It was a great offer.”

Keys still heard a little bit of SMU’s recruiting pitch.

“He was just telling us how it’s a good school, a great place to me and a good learning environment,” Keys said. “I’ve never actually really watched them, but I’m going to start, because it sounds pretty good up there, just looking at the team and going off of what the coach told me.”

Along with Keys, SMU offered two of his teammates: defensive back Joe Foucha and defensive tackle Devin Winters. All were offered on the same day.

“It seems like it happens every time. Every time I come up with an offer or Joe comes up with an offer, we get offered at the same time,” Keys said.

Keys and Foucha both picked up SMU offers and just look at it as a chance to grow from it.

“It’s great because a lot of people can’t say they got offered their sophomore year,” Keys said. “It’s a big opportunity and a real blessing.”

Keys and Foucha both hold offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Ball State, Cincinnati, Memphis, Mississippi State, SMU and Texas A&M. Keys also has offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, UMass and Tulsa.

Keys wants to visit SMU this summer, likely with Foucha and Winters. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound wide receiver said he doesn’t have an idea of when that visit might be. He hasn’t camped anywhere in the summer or visited anywhere in the spring, but he also wants to visit Miami (Fla.) Texas A&M and Nebraska. 

2018 offensive lineman talks SMU offer

By: Demetrio Teniente

There is nothing like picking up that first offer—especially when you are just coming off your sophomore season.

After visiting SMU last week, 2018 Allen center Trey Stratford picked up his first offer.  

“Coach Chad Morris and [Dustin] Fry offered me after the SMU camp,” Startford said. “Since they can’t talk to me yet, I didn’t even know I was on the verge of being offered by them until I was there at camp.”

It was the 6-3, 260 pound lineman hadn’t been to the hilltop since he was still playing pee wee, and was thrilled to receive his first offer from SMU.  

“It was really just a dream come true to be offered by them,” he said. “I work every day to try and get better. So it was crazy and it still doesn’t feel real to me. To be offered a full ride—it is such an honor and a lot of money to go to a school like SMU.  It’s unbelievable right now.”

As for the coaching staff, Stratford—like many other recruits—was blown away by the SMU coaches’ big personalities.   

“I thought they were really good guys and really good coaches,” he said. “Coach Fry was a really good coach. I haven’t been around too many college coaches, but he seems like a good guy as far as I can tell.”

Stratford noted some similarities between SMU and his Allen Eagles as both programs are in the middle of coaching changes—SMU just has a year head start on Allen.

 After years of dominance under former head coach Tom Westerberg, the Eagles will enter a new era in their program under Terry Gambill—who was the head coach at Waco Midway and was the defensive coordinator for Allen back in 2008.   

“I think change is a good thing,” Stratford said. “I think Coach Gambill is a good addition to our program and has brought a lot of good things to Allen. I think we are on track to have a very successful season and I think it holds true to SMU as well. Coach Morris definitely knows what he is doing. Just by the way he talks and how he coached at the high school level, I think he will have a lot of success.”

Stratford will be attending a camp in Houston, Friday, but isn’t sure how the rest of his summer will shape up.

“I don’t have any visits planned right now,” he said. “But I’d like to come back to SMU during the season and see some games. We’ll see where things, go from there.”   

2018 running back stands out at SMU camp

By: Demetrio Teniente

At SMU’s camp last Sunday few athletes stood out at as much as 2018 Ennis running back Kyrie Holloway.

The sophomore says he was 6-1 and 179 pounds the last time he checked and after a sophomore season where he rushed for 780 yards and three touchdowns on just 83 carries (9.4 YPC) he has been getting invited to a lot of camps.

“[SMU’s] camp was great,” he said. “They had me line up at running back and at slot receiver—it was a lot of fun. I had a lot of good competition and even played defense a little.”

 While Holloway didn’t get a chance to meet with all SMU’s coaches, he mentioned that he enjoyed working with running backs coach Claude Mathis.

“My uncle and I got to meet Chad Morris and Mathis,” Holloway said. “Since he coached at Desoto he knew my uncle and I kind of knew him. It was my first time meeting him, but my uncle knew him. The coaches are great. You can actually understand what they are talking about and they go back over things until you really get it. They are awesome coaches and were a lot of fun.”

Holloway also says we can expect his numbers to jump from last season as he fully expects to earn the starting job before the season begins.

“We had a bit of a rotation going last season,” he said. “I’m taking over this year. “I know I’ll need to work on my cutbacks and staying lower than what I did last year. Just this morning my uncle and I went out and ran some hills with the football. He put some cones out and I had to cut through and jump over them.” 

Mesquite Horn defensive back talks SMU offer

By: Scott Sanford

With camp season in full effect, the SMU coaching staff is getting more opportunities to evaluate prospects in the 2017 and 2018 classes.

While the 2017 class is almost full, the Mustangs’ 2018 class is wide open, and the staff has begun passing out offers, including one to rising Mesquite Horn junior Brodrick Calhoun.

The 5-foot-10, 155-pound defensive back picked up his first offer from SMU after developing a relationship with wide receivers coach Justin Stepp.

It was Calhoun’s camp performance from last year that initially got the staff interested in the Mesquite native.

“When I first went to a camp he watched the DB’s and receivers, and none of the receivers could get off the line against me so he was impressed with that,” Calhoun recalled.  “Then the spring of this year he came to our spring practice, and just his energy, and the entire staff’s energy, stood out to me.”

Calhoun has also had the chance to develop bonds with coach Loepp and coach Malone, but his most recent conversation with Coach Morris after a camp last weekend takes the cake.

“At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what was going on,” Calhoun explained.  “At first coach Stepp said most times it’s not a good reason to be going to a coaches office, but in this case it was a good reason and we starting joking after a short while.  I was just real comfortable with coach Morris.”

That was Calhoun’s first sit down conversation with SMU’s head coach, but that’s not how it felt.

“Just his energy, I know I can have a great relationship with him because he feels like part of the family,” Calhoun added.

SMU is the only program to pull the trigger thus far on Calhoun, but the staff is confident in the defensive back’s play, according to Calhoun.

“They like what they see from my film, but they definitely want to see more,” he said.  “I’m more of a man coverage guy, and that’s what SMU runs most of the time so that’s what motivated them to make the decision.”

Besides SMU, TCU and Texas State have shown some interest in Calhoun, but he hopes camp trips to North Texas, among others, will help catch the attention of other schools.

2018 quarterback camps at SMU
© Greg Powers

By: Andrew Hattersley

It’s been a busy week for 2018 Grapevine HS (Tex.) quarterback Alan Bowman traveling from camp to camp, but one of the ones he enjoyed the most was with SMU because of the different feel it had. 

“The camp was really good, I liked how we didn’t do all this testing you know because we go to all these camps and I know it’s good people, colleges want to get down on paper if you’re an athlete, how fast you can run your 40, but they didn’t do that they went right into the skills,” Bowman said “I think they really managed their time well with us and they got out of us as much as they could.”

Bowman was pleased with his performance, but also felt there were some things he could have done differently. 

“I did pretty well, I could have done a few things better I had a few bad balls of not getting my hips all the way to the receiver and flipping everything around, but overall I’d say I did pretty well,” Bowman said. 

Over the year, Bowman has developed a solid relationship with the staff even though he is still very young. 

“They’re really family oriented, they’re all about the culture there and they’re definitely changing it because I know my high school staff kind of mimicked everything they did with us,” Bowman said, “We even run the same offense as them we do the same thing with the culture with the energy, the culture, the tempo, the competition Tuesday, mental and physical toughness Wednesday, family appreciation Thursday, and physical on Friday so that’s what we’re doing with Creto thing so that’s really cool with the coaches, you see they allow everyone to come to the practices they don’t really cuss at all so they’re good Christian men.”

Bowman does not have any offers, but has heard the most from SMU, Houston, Missouri, Arkansas, Northwestern and Oklahoma. With so many big schools showing interest, this has been a unique experience for Bowman to be getting so much praise so early. 

“It’s pretty surreal, its humbling for the first thing,” Bowman said, “It’s really awesome to have everyone want you and they seem really interested in you and to be going to these big prestigious schools it’s pretty cool.”

2018 defensive back camps at SMU

By: Scott Sanford

Just a sophomore, 2018 Manvel defensive back Trent Gordon got to experience his first SMU camp, while meeting the coaching staff for the first time.

The 6-foot, 170-pound safety has been to high school camps in the past, but the competitiveness at this most recent one was different from the rest.

“The camp was really good for me because it was an experience I had never been a part of,” Gordon said.  “Working with coach Loepp was great because what he was teaching me felt very natural.  There were some good receiver at the camp so that was a great challenge for me.”

Gordon was just introduced to the staff days before the camp on Tuesday, but he has already started building relationship with some of his recruiters.

“Coach Loepp has great energy and I liked the teaching that he gave,” Gordon said.  “Coach Malone, he was the one who actually pulled me to the side and continuously gave me tips throughout the drills.”

While Gordon continues to learn about SMU from Loepp, Malone and his area recruiter Archie McDaniel, he is also hearing from a number of other schools.

Most recently, Gordon has been in touch with UNT, TCU and Illinois, and he also has plans to attend camps at LSU, Stanford and Duke in the coming weeks.

To pick up his first offer, Gordon is focused on his upcoming summer, which is packed with camps and trips to the weight room.

“I’m trying to improve everything football wise,” Gordon said.  “I need to get stronger, make more eye-opening plays, and improve my skills so I can put those big hits on display for schools.”

2018 quarterback earns camp champ at SMU
© Greg Powers

By: Billy Embody

2018 Coppell quarterback Brady McBride has had a busy summer with 7-on-7 and camps at different schools, but came out to SMU for another camp and impressed the SMU coaching staff, especially offensive coordinator Joe Craddock.

"It was good. I got camp champ and worked with coach Craddock a lot. He was real helpful and genuine like always," McBride said. "At first, I started off slow and picked it up when we started throwing routes on air. In 1-on-1s, I did real well and did well on 7-on-7. Just did a good job overall."

SMU has impressed McBride, who has been a frequent visitor on campus and says Chad Morris will get it done at SMU.

"It's real nice. It's close to home and would be nice to play there. There's a lot to do on campus. It's something that's definitely on the rise and I think coach Morris will get it turned around with all of his relationships with Texas high school coaches. He really looks for football players not just stars."

Craddock talked with McBride after the camp and says they'll be keeping an eye on him.

"After the camp, he talked about how I did real well when he came by this spring and then how I did well again at the camp. He said we love you and trust me when the time is right, we'll be there. Next year and these upcoming months, he's really going to be on me," McBride said. 

Last year, McBride camped at SMU and caught their eye. Communication has been slow, but in the last couple months, the relationship has grown.

"I just like him being young and knowing how kids are. He's real genuine, real nice. Everything he says feels sincere," McBride said.

Former Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne was at SMU's camp and talked with McBride about his mechanics on his basic throws and Craddock pushed him on that too.

"He said I get lazy throwing hitch routes sometimes. It gets there, but sometimes I just throw it up there. He said I throw a really good deep ball though," the 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback said. 

Morris was introduced to McBride at camp by Craddock, but didn't get to talk too long with him.

"When I first came in to the camp, coach Craddock pulled me aside and introduced me to him. He told coach Morris I was a baller and they need to keep an eye on me. I did see him talking with my dad though," McBride said.

This fall, McBride plans to make it back for a game. Texas A&M got a visit from McBride this week and Oklahoma State will get a visit on Sunday. Houston visited with McBride this spring and visits there today (Friday). 

This summer, McBride is using the 7-on-7 circuit to break in new weapons around him and get a better feel for coverages.

"I've got a whole new wave of receivers so I'm really working on timing with them and devoting my time to getting a better sense of defenses and there's a lot of run-pass option plays this year.

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