© Greg Powers

The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review 7/29

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

Unexpected offer comes for 2017 receiver

By: Scott Sanford

2017 Allen (Tex.) wide receiver Tenio Ayeni has not spent a lot of time visiting colleges yet, but he sure made a good impression while camping at SMU last weekend.

The 6-foot, 203-pound rising senior made a big enough impression on head coach Chad Morris to score a personal meeting with the second-year head coach after taking the field for one of his first camps ever.

And what came next was completely unexpected.

“He told me (they were offering me) and it really didn’t register,” Ayeni recalled.  “I had been waiting for this moment for a pretty long time and I have been working hard for it.  I have a great supporting cast behind me, and I know my mom is tired of all the workouts, so it was good to have something to show for it all.”

Ayeni’s recruiter, Jess Loepp, and Morris laid out their reasoning behind extending an offer the wideout’s way.

“They told me that they like the tenacity and the hustle that I have,” the scout three-star explained.  “They also like the background that I have.  I am Allen raised, and they know those kids will bring 110 percent and they know what they are getting.”

The metroplex native has visited SMU just once before the recent camp, but he continues to build his relationship with the coaching staff continues to grow as his recruitment continues.

“Coach (Jess) Loepp is a great guy and is really enthusiastic,” Ayeni said.  “He breaks your play down for you don’t miss anything.  And Coach Morris, I love his friendliness and the one-on-one interaction you get with him.”

The campus is something that also stands out to the Ayeni, especially the new facilities that were just announced this week.

“The campus is beautiful.  I haven’t been on a lot of campuses, but I love how everything is so close,” Ayeni said.  “I actually just saw the pictures of the new facilities and they look amazing.  It means they (SMU) are really buying in and it shows that the communities cares about SMU football.”

While he doesn’t have any planned visits at the moment, Ayeni says he will continue to check schools out well into his senior season.

At the moment, SMU is the receiver’s only offer, but he consistently hears from Texas Tech and Iowa as well.

Ayeni, who is fully recovered from a broken wrist he suffered during last year’s playoffs, expects his recruitment to pick up as his senior year progresses.

“If you do everything you are supposed to do on Friday nights, that process will take care of itself,” he said.

2017 4-star point guard talks top nine, SMU

By: Patrick Engel

With the July live periods over, Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch and Houston Hoops combo guard Jay Jay Chandler recently released a top nine, and included SMU in it. Chandler visited the school during his junior year. He said the visit still resonates with him enough for SMU to make the narrowed list.

“I talked to the assistant coaches and coach Brown, when he was still on the job,” Chandler said. “Meeting the players and everything, it was a cool experience. I’ve kept a good relationship with them. I liked how the players trusted the coaches and they play in an NBA system.”

Chandler said Larry Brown’s departure did not have a big effect on his interest in SMU. He was familiar with newly promoted head coach Tim Jankovich before the resignation and his primary recruiter is assistant coach K.T. Turner. Turner has been at most of Chandler’s games during the live periods.

“Just Larry Brown’s presence there in general is a good thing,” Chandler said. “I know he’ll still be around for games and things. It really didn’t change my opinion of SMU and my recruitment.”

The four-star guard and No. 86 overall prospect’s top nine consists of Georgia Tech, Alabama, Oregon, Houston, Baylor, USC, Western Kentucky, SMU and Oklahoma. During his junior year, Chandler visited a handful of them: Texas A&M, SMU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Alabama and Vanderbilt. Earlier this summer, he visited USC, who he said he talks to the most of any school recruiting him.

Western Kentucky looks like the outlier at first glance, but Chandler has a strong relationship with head coach Rick Stansbury going back to Stansbury’s time as an assistant at Texas A&M. The Hilltoppers also already pulled a massive recruiting coup in landing five-star center Mitchell Robinson.

“When he (Stansbury) was at A&M, I talked to him a lot. He’s amazing and my bond with him just carried over,” Chandler said. “And Mitch, he’s a great player. I played against him earlier this year and I talked to him last week. Playing with him would be great and me fitting in with him would be fun, if it ends up working out.”

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Chandler said he has not decided how he will decided on five of the schools to officially visit. He said he doesn’t have a specific timeline for his decision, but said it will come after he starts school in August.

“It’s just going to be based on whatever I feel the right timing is,” Chandler said. “It might be after I take two visits or before I even take one.”

2017 quarterback talks camp, SMU offer
Bob Przybylo/Scout

By: Andrew Hattersley

After talking with the staff for over a year, 2018 Lamar Consolidated HS (Tex.) quarterback Will Brown finally got the offer he had been hoping for from SMU. 

“I mean it’s a really big jump from getting an offer from Alabama State which was my first offer and I’ve been talking to SMU since I was going into my sophomore year, after my freshman year,” Brown said, “I really love the coaching staff, coach Craddock the offensive coordinator he shows a lot of love and we’ve really bonded over the years and now that I’m going into my junior year after these camps and being offered by coach Chad Morris where he told me all the responsibilities and how they would love to have me and SMU is a great program.”

The offer for Brown serves as validation for the work he has put in so far, but he’s not done yet. 

“It really means a lot to me, it shows a lot from how much work I’ve put in and it was amazing to receive an offer from a school that I’ve been working for and looking up to for a long time,” Brown said. 

Over the past year, Brown has grown close with SMU offensive coordinator coach Craddock who’s he’s developed a relationship with about far more than football. 

“It’s amazing, it’s more than about football he’s wondering how my family is, where we’ve been on vacation, it’s more than just about football it’s very nice,” Brown said, “Family comes first and the way they preach it and the way they tell their players and everyone going to their camps that family is important and how football at the next level will come but family and education are forever.” 

Allen wide receiver visits SMU for camp
© Greg Powers

By: Demetrio Teniente

Sometimes waiting for that first offer can be an excruciating, anxiety filled time for recruits. Other times, you might get a heads up that a scholarship is coming your way.

That’s how it went down for 2018 Allen High School wide receiver Jevon Jones.

“I found out a little bit before I got offered,” Jones said. “I’m pretty cool with coach Jess Loepp and he told me I was going to get offered when I got to camp—and they did. It’s a true blessing; I’ve been waiting on this all my life. For SMU to be the first school to offer me is exciting. It’s a well-coached school that is on the come up.”

Jones elaborated on his relationship with coach Loepp, saying that he likes all the SMU coaches he has talked too so far, but most of his conversations are with the defensive back coach.

“Coach Loepp is a really cool dude,” Jones says. “The last time I visited he told me that he’s actually been watching me since my freshman year. We probably talk once or twice a month.”

Jones attended SMU final camp of the summer last weekend, where he picked up his offer from SMU. He also visited SMU back in March for SMU’s junior day.  

“[The camp] went well,” Jones said. “I feel like I definitely showed the coaching staff what I needed to show them. During this visit, the atmosphere of the camp and the high intensity of the coaches stood out. Just talking to Chad Morris I can tell that they have a fine program and they are in a winning mindset.”

Allen High School is entering its first season under the guidance of Terry Gambill, who comes to the perineal powerhouse after spending six seasons at Midway High School. Before coaching at Midway, Gambrill was Allen’s defensive coordinator for nine seasons.

His return to the program has reignited the team and has everyone excited to put the pads on and start chasing another state title.

“I’ve been grinding with my brothers all summer,” Jones said. “We just finished up training camp and are getting ready for football camp and to start the next season.”

Jones is focusing all his energy on the season in front of him and doesn’t have any visits set in stone, however, he intends to make it back to the Hilltop soon.

3-star power forward talks SMU interest

By: Patrick Engel

A two-sport star his first two years of high school, 2018 power forward Reggie Chaney is narrowing his focus to one sport and transferring to a school far from home. Chaney, who played tight end/defensive line and forward for Frisco (Texas) Liberty High School last year, is transferring to Findley Prep in Las Vegas and will not play football.

On the court, the rising junior has four schools that he said have offered.

“Oklahoma, SMU, Tulsa and LSU, those are offers,” Chaney said.

Even though Chaney will not play football in high school, he still has a couple colleges expressing interest in him as a tight end. He is open to the idea of playing both sports in college. SMU has offered him in both.

“I visited this past year and I liked it a lot,” Chaney said. “They offer a lot of good things in both. I talked to Larry Brown and he was a good guy. He left, but I still like the coaching staff there now.”

Chaney noticed a similarity between both the football and basketball coaches at SMU.

“They’re good guys and really down to earth,” Chaney said. “They tell it like they see it.”

Chaney, thickly built at 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, wanted to show that his game is evolving and becoming more complete during the live periods.

“I want to show that I can do more than just post up,” Chaney said. “I can also handle it and shoot and play some defense.”

Chaney played this past AAU season with RM5 Elite. He averaged 7.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on 54 percent shooting.

2019 point guard getting SMU interest
© Greg Powers

By: Billy Embody

2019 Denton (Tex.) Guyer two-sport star De'Vion Harmon has been getting some attention this summer with a couple major offers in LSU and Oklahoma, but also is getting attention from SMU.

SMU’s KT Turner is coming after Harmon and the team likes his high-motor play.

“He just told me that they love high motor guys and players that can get the job done and don’t shy away from a challenge.”

Harmon has been considering SMU from the beginning of his recruitment due to its proximity and fan base.

“I love SMU. Even though coach Brown just left, I love it because its campus is nice, it’s close to home so if I ever need any help, I can come home. I love their facilities up there.” 

Harmon visited a couple times for games last year and was impressed.

“Especially the basketball games, I know their fans are all for the SMU Mustangs. I loved it. They’re high-motor too by playing defense and both sides of the floor.”

Even with Larry Brown’s resignation, Harmon says that won’t affect his recruitment much.

“It changes a little bit because he’s a Hall of Fame coach and he coached Allen Iverson and coached him to the MVP, but as far as recruiting wise, it doesn’t change anything about that. I’d still look to go to SMU.”

LSU, Texas, SMU and Oklahoma State are standing out so far while OU and Texas A&M are going to get visits later as well.

“I visited Texas and I love Texas. I love Shaka Smart,” the 6-2, 185-pound guard said. “Oklahoma State was a great visit and I’m looking forward to getting to OU.”

This summer, Harmon ran with D1 Premier and he said the team really started to hit on all cylinders in June and July.

“Our coach always tells us it’s not about the team in March, it’s about the team in June/July in eval period. It’s going great. I think my game is coming back. I’m getting more and more of my swagger back. After this, it’s just getting ready for high school season.”

Harmon says coaches like his motor, competitiveness and ability to get to the basket.

China Spring defensive back checks out SMU

By: Andrew Hattersley

Last Friday, SMU welcomed a number of the top players in Texas for barbecue night that served as good opportunity for some of the newer recruits to meet the staff. One of those in attendance was 2018 China Spring HS (Tex.) defensive back Trae Cherry

“The barbecue was very good, I liked everything they served there, I liked talking with the coaches about how life’s going, how’s football going,” Cherry said, “SMU is a really really good place I think and I really like it just because of the environment and the way the coaches are always around to answer questions and stuff.” 

Cherry spent a lot of time talking with coach Gunn about the direction of the program and some of the challenges they are still facing. 

“Just talking about football, obviously how the coaches see me,” Cherry said, “There’s a whole bunch of work to be done but I like that I like a good challenge.” 

The 5-10, 160-pound cornerback was visiting with his brother Tyrick James, who will play an important role in his recruitment down the road. 

“It’s been a journey, hopefully we can both end up at the same school that’s what we’ve been discussing over the recruiting process, wherever he goes is probably where I’m going to go too,” Cherry said. 

Cherry said he will certainly be back up in a couple of months to check out a game at SMU, and is also excited about the new practice facility on the way. 

“That would be great, I’m pretty sure I would love that,” Cherry said. 

The China Springs cornerback has not been hearing from any other schools yet but is optimistic that will change down the road.

2017 tight end talks SMU BBQ, Big 12 expansion
© Greg Powers

By: Billy Embody

It's been a busy summer for 2017 China Spring (Tex.) tight end Tyrick James with camp visits, 7-on-7 and training sessions. He's been working on his game to pick up more offers this season as his only offer right now is SMU.

James has camped with Texas twice, Texas A&M, Illinois, Sam Houston State and recently checked out SMU for the barbecue following a camp. At the barbecue, James was impressed with the family vibe the staff gave him.

"I liked it. You get to know some of their recruits too that are in your class so you know who you could be going with. Then to get to know the current players, which is nice and also talk with coaches."

As far as his other visits, Texas and Texas A&M impressed James, who is definitely looking for a Texas offer.

"With Texas, I just like the atmosphere of Texas. I like how Charlie Strong is building a family values program now. They treat the campers like their own players and I like how they do it down there. It might be tough to turn down a Texas offer," James said. "With A&M, I like how if you weren't doing the drills full speed, they'd stop the drill and start all over. It was more reps and fast tempo."

With SMU's tight ends coach Donny McElveen leaving for Campbell University, he's just getting to know new tight ends coach Keith Gunn.

"My biggest thing is Donny McElveen, he left so I need to get with coach Gunn, the new tight ends coach, and coach Morris. I like how he (Morris) is doing it down there," James said. "It was nice. I liked him because he's (Gunn) from down here. He built a few houses of people I know and that's nice because I know a coach that came from my hometown. We didn't really talk about me. We talked about him taking on tight ends and him and my dad talked for a little while longer."

James says Chad Morris' mentality that he's bringing to the program has him impressed.

"I like it so far and even though it's my only offer, I like the recruiting that they have and the facility they have coming up. I like that type of mentality that coach Morris has put in there," James said.

With Big 12 expansion looming, James noted that a move to the Big 12 would mean a lot.

"It'd be a shock actually because then if I go to SMU, I get to play against my favorite team, the Texas Longhorns, and then if I committed to play anywhere else in the Big 12, I'd get to play the team that first offered me. It'd be a nice ride."

James has been training with coach Margin Hooks on his craft so he can perform when the lights come on this fall.

"All the teams want to see me do what I do in camp, in pads. I've been working on conditioning really, but also getting in and out of my breaks quicker. I'm still a bit slow coming out of that, but I'm working on getting out as fast I can."

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