The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review Sept. 9

Come inside another Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest on 2018 football targets and a basketball official visit.

2018 wide receiver one of SMU's top targets

By: Demetrio Teniente

Once you start getting offers, everyone—even your opponents—start to notice.

But having a handful of D I offers isn’t the only thing different for 2018 Rockdale wide out JaQuayln Crawford; this season he is the Tigers No.1 receiver.

Not only has he moved up a spot in the depth chart, but he comes into this season with offer from schools like SMU, TCU, Texas Tech, and Tulsa opposing defenses are giving him a lot of respect and double-teaming him often.  

“It is new [to me],” Crwaford said.  “Last year we had a guy that was all-state and I was the no. 2 guy so that meant I got a lot of one-on-ones. Now it’s just different, but that opens up more for our offense and our other receivers.”

 Opposing corners aren’t the only ones giving Crawford a ton of attention; he is getting looks from a lot of other programs like Houston, Purdue, Florida State, Texas State, and Northwestern.

SMU was the first school to offer Crawford and he has a great relationship with SMU assistant coach Justin Stepp.

“That’s my dude,” Crwaford said. “We talk a lot. Out of all the coaches that I’ve been in contact with, me and coach Stepp probably have the best relationship. I can tell he wants me at SMU a lot and that means a lot to me. Coach Stepp, that is just a great dude.”

Shortly after SMU pulled the trigger—less than a week later—all his other offers started rolling in.

“It was a big relief,” Crwaford said. “It was surprising because I had talked to a lot of schools before SMU and they were always like, ‘we’ll keep in touch,’ but most schools really didn’t. Coach Stepp came and said he wanted to offer me and I thought he was just blowing smoke, but then the next day they called and offered.”

Especially early in the season Crawford has felt that his offers have put a target on his back. While that means getting extra attention from opposing defenses, it also means he has become even more of a leader and role model for the rest of his team.

“A lot of guys in my locker room look at me to see what I’m doing because I’m one of the only guys that has offers,” he said. “They want to see what it takes and that makes me want to work harder. It has just pushed me to work harder and get more looks, more offers because I’m not exactly satisfied yet.”

Crawford and the Tigers (1-1) take on Lexington (1-1) Friday night at 7:30 at Tiger Stadium in Rockdale Texas. 

2017 point guard details visits

By: Patrick Engel

Alexandria (La.) Peabody Magnet point guard Cedric Russell is taking an unconventional approach to his recruitment. Instead of scheduling five officials to schools, he’s hosting all of them for in-home visits before deciding on a final five.

“I’m old-fashioned. That’s how it used to be, colleges coming to do home visits first,” Russell said. “I’d rather go that route and helps narrow your list down and you see who really wants you. If you’re from Virginia or California and you come down here and see my living room, that says something.”

Russell has a schedule of in-homes set up. On the first day of the fall recruiting period (Sept. 9), Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette will visit his school. Louisiana Tech and VCU will come visit him on Sept. 11, ULL and LSU will go in-home on Sept. 12, Western Kentucky on Sept. 13 and SMU on Sept. 14.

“I’m looking for who I’m a priority to,” Russell said. “I know it’s not given to me and I have to come in and work for it, but somewhere where I can come in and play and help the team any way there is.”

SMU got involved with Russell when Shawn Forrest was hired as an assistant coach in early August. He and Forrest met on an unofficial visit earlier this summer, when the former was an assistant at Louisiana Tech earlier this summer. He kept SMU in his top 10 that was released last month.

“They want me to be someone that when I come in, I can depend on,” Russell said. “If they’re bringing you in, you have to play because of the (scholarship) position they’re in.”

Under new head coach Tim Jankovich, SMU is going to run a freer-moving and faster-paced offense that will rely on guards. Russell is a combo guard who is known for his shooting ability.

“I love their style of play,” Russell said. “It’s basically a guard school and I’m a guard. I like the way they play fast, they play tough and play defense. And it’s not too far from home so that’s something I could probably swing.”

The three-star guard and former LSU commit was originally planning a fall decision, but now he says he will wait until the spring. Russell decommitted from LSU in April after originally committing there as a sophomore in the fall of 2014. 

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you only get recruited once. This is something I wanted to go through and enjoy the whole process and play my senior year out and have the signing day with all the hats and stuff,” Russell said “I didn’t want to short-change myself. I haven’t closed the door on them fully, I just wanted to give myself more options.”

2018 tight end hearing from SMU
Bob Przybylo/Scout

By: Andrew Hattersley

It has been a while for 2018 Westmoore HS (Ok.) tight end James Palmer since his last offer from Oklahoma State in June, however, his relationship continues to grow with a number of schools including SMU. 

“I actually talked to coach Loepp last Thursday,” Palmer said, “I hadn’t spoken to him in the longest time, it’s been a while, We’ve talked on the phone a couple times and I’m sure I’ve talked with him a couple times over social media, but it’s been a while.” 

Despite the quiet period, Palmer has already developed a good relationship with the coaching staff, especially coach Loepp. 

“It has always been pleasant talking to coach Loepp, that’s who I’ve been in communication with most of the time and educationally it’s top of the line,” Palmer said. 

Versatile is certainly one word that could be used to describe Palmer, and that is one of the attributes schools like most about him. 

“It’s kind of weird, when I play, I’m a tight end in school, I play split out and I play H-Back and that’s kind of what they want me to do,” Palmer said, “They want to me to be very versatile on the field.” 

The 6-3, 215-pound tight end is hoping with the amount of interest he has received from SMU, that an offer could be coming soon. 

“As of right now they haven’t really extended that much information based on if they were ready to offer me in time but just considering all the love they’ve given me I think it might come soon,” Palmer said. 

Palmer has already been on campus a couple of times and does not anticipate heading back to SMU until he receives an offer. 

“We’ll see, I can’t really answer that we’re going to have to see how it goes, I honestly don’t know it’s probably a situation where if there was more interest kind of inputted,” Palmer said, “Like if they were to offer me then I would go and check it out because I’ve already seen what I need to see.” 

Houston has also shown interest in Palmer along with SMU and Oklahoma State. 

2019 wide receiver picks up SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

A day after spending time with two SMU commits, 2019 Lake Travis (Tex.) wide receiver Garrett Wilson received word that he had picked up his first offer from SMU. 

“I’m really excited about it, I feel like after you get that first offer it’s always a big relief and you know you still got to work hard but it feels like you just took the backpack off your shoulders,” Wilson said, “Nothing feels better so far.” 

Besides his family, Wilson said Cade and Charlie Brewer were two of the first people he told about the offer and can’t wait to keep an eye on them at SMU. 

“It makes it a lot more exciting of a school to get offered from knowing two of my teammates are going there, see how they do there and then have my time after to see if I want to go to school there,” Wilson said. 

With Charlie Brewer already set to head to campus next fall, that will certainly play a role in Wilson’s decision, as he would love to play with his high school quarterback once again. 

“That’s my boy, we already have some chemistry down from when we played in high school so to go there and continue it, that would be awesome,” Wilson said. 

Coach Loepp and other SMU coaches have spent a lot of time around the program taking in a number of spring practices. Wilson and Loepp have also spoken a couple of times. 

“They always stay involved in the program, a lot of them used to coach there so they come to a lot of our practices in the spring,” Wilson said. 

Wilson has also been contact with Wisconsin, TCU and Baylor, although he hasn’t spoken to them since the Bears’ issues earlier this summer. 

Former teammates are not the only thing that caught Wilson’s attention about SMU, but also their willingness to let Courtland Sutton play basketball and football opened his eyes to that possibility. 

“I play basketball as well, and they had a two sport athlete too in Courtland Sutton, I love basketball but I think it would be a tough thing to do to play two sports, no rest in high school it’s tough enough so I don’t know if I could,” Wilson said, “Obviously I would take the opportunity but it would be really tough.” 

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