Hayden Howerton

The Pony Stampede Hilltop Review: December 2

Come inside another edition of the Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest on two SMU commits and a 2019 target.

2017 offensive tackle talks SMU commitment

By: Billy Embody

2017 Katy offensive tackle Hayden Howerton made his SMU commitment on Tuesday after deciding to flip to Chad Morris and the Mustangs from Rice. Although some point to Rice's struggles this season as a reason, Howerton said it was more about him taking time to think about where he wanted to be for college.

Following his team’s playoff loss last weekend, Howerton racked his brain for a decision.

“That turned for quite a long weekend, but I was able to think about some things as we went out to our place in the country. I was able to pray about my college decision and what my future was for me,” Howerton said. “I made my decision over the weekend that I wanted to go to SMU over Rice.”


For the USF game, Howerton visited SMU and was blown away by the experience on campus.

“That was an unbelievable experience. I loved the environment, I loved the campus, I loved everything about SMU. It’s still in Texas, but far enough to be away from home,” Howerton said.

Even though the 6-4, 260-pound offensive tackle decided to to flip his commitment from Rice, that doesn't mean he doesn't love the school.

“I love the people at Rice. I love what they’re all about. I had just came to the realization that I wanted to play football at SMU. That made it really hard because coach Bailiff and I were really close during the recruitment process. He’s one of the best men I know.”

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When Howerton called the SMU coaches to commit and announced it on Twitter, it was a big celebration among the staff.

“They were excited. I was getting follows from coaches, players, other commits, messaging me and telling me welcome to the family,” Howerton said. “It made me feel at home. Coach Morris and coach Fry said they were both excited to have me. I told coach Fry I was committing and he told me he couldn’t wait to coach me. It just shows the love they have for me.” 

Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and Fry made the trip down to Katy to see Howerton on Thursday. 

Fry has been in contact with Howerton since he committed to Rice last April. Howerton reached out when he decided that he wanted to look around again.

“I realized that I need to open it back up and start looking around. I told him my situation and he was happy to start recruiting me again. I think it’s going to be a great experience with him being my offensive line coach,” Howerton said. “I hit it off really well with both of them.”

Morris was excited to accept Howerton's commitment and it was even better as news spread about Morris' extension with SMU.

“When I had heard the news on Tuesday that he was going to stay just hours after my commitment, that was the icing on the cake,” Howerton said. “He knows both sides after coaching Texas high school football and college. What I saw from him, I was very impressed.”

SMU sees Howerton at tackle, but could also go to center as well.

“We’re starting something big at SMU. People are going to be blown away by the talent that’s coming to the Hilltop. Coach Fry thinks I have long enough arms and good enough feet to compete at that level playing tackle. As things go on, we’ll see how it goes from there. He’s talked about how I can play all five positions if necessary.”

Howerton has 29 straight starts for Katy at offensive tackle and with that experience, he plans to compete early for playing time. If a redshirt is in the cards, that will play out quickly during camp.

“He said within the first two weeks, we’ll know where I stand in terms of redshirting or playing and getting into the rotation,” Howerton said. “I need to get bigger, faster, stronger. A lot of coaches say I can kick step well and I have a good pass pro punch. My offensive line coach says I have a mean streak, which he likes.”

Howerton holds other offers from Cal, Colorado State, Houston, Kansas, Memphis, Nebraska and others. His official visit to SMU is set for the last weekend in January.

SMU commit recaps in-home visit
Gabe Brooks / SCOUT

By: Andrew Hattersley

After wrapping up their season on Saturday night with a disappointing loss to Navy, the SMU assistant coaches wasted no time hitting the trail and one of coach Van Malone’s first stops was to the home of 2017 Pearland High School (Tex.) cornerback and SMU commit Justin Guy-Robinson

“It was really eye-opening to hear what he was talking about, especially with the education I would be getting, he was talking all about my outlets to like tutors and things, just all the things I could do to benefit myself academically,” Guy-Robinson said, “We were just talking about my official too and everything that would happen, it was interesting.” 

His official visit is also approaching in the new year which the Pearland corner is certainly ready to take and get on campus for a couple days. 

“I’m excited to see what a couple of days will be like down there especially with the people that are going to be my hosts,” Guy-Robinson said. 

The bond between Guy-Robinson and coach Malone continues to grow stronger with the two talking at least once a week, but the 5-10 corner noted the whole group along with Ar’mani Johnson is also continuing to grow ahead of signing day.  

“It’s really great, I talk to him probably once a week and I also talk with the other corner Ar’mani so we really talk often, I feel like our relationship is growing,” Guy-Robinson said, “Not even just me and him, but the whole corner group is really growing.” 

Both Guy-Robinson’s mom and brother were also in attendance Tuesday night and came away impressed and excited for the next opportunity. 

“My mom she wasn’t emotional, but she was just saying she would be with me going off to college and everything,” Guy-Robinson said, “My brother he was talking about coming up to see practices and stuff and he said he would be up in Dallas, so they talked about that.” 

Guy-Robinson was also happy to see coach Morris get his contract extension earlier this week even though he was never worried talking with coach Morris during his recruitment. 

“I knew from talking to him before everything that he was very into this family and being the head of it,” Guy-Robinson said, “I’m really happy he got his extension and I can’t wait to be coached by one of the best college football coaches.” 

2019 running back talks SMU visit

By: Demetrio Teniente

It has been a busy couple of months for 2019 Friendship running back Garrison Johnson.

The 5-11, 210 pound back has made several visits this year beginning with Texas Tech before the high school season started and has now made stops at Arkansas, Texas A&M, Texas, and SMU.

Johnson dropped by the Hilltop for the Mustangs season finale against Navy last weekend, and though the Midshipmen blew out SMU 75-31, he says he enjoyed the visit.

 “I went with my father and we had a great time,” Johnson said. “We got to hear Chad Morris talk about how he doesn’t want to recruit kids that are going to play one year and then go to the NFL—he wants kids to go there for all four years and graduate from SMU. It really made me think about SMU a lot. I just think that it is a great place to be.”

Johnson picked up his first offer from Nebraska in October. Like most recruits, picking up his first offer meant a great deal to him and has also motivated him to keep working.

“It was shocking,” Johnson said. “I knew I was a pretty decent player, but getting an offer was shocking. I never knew that playing Division I football would be for me or that a school like Nebraska would be offering me. It was wild.”

Picking up his first offer was great, but Johnson doesn’t want it to stop there. After making those visits this year, he knows what kind of options he could have if he continues to put in the work.  

“It has been a great and humbling experience,” he said.  “I know that I have to keep working hard to get better every day—for myself and for my teammates. It is good to know that college football is a possible future for me and right now is just about getting better every day and playing to the best of my ability.”

As for SMU, Johnson said he used to live in the DFW area and has always watched the Mustangs. After his visit and seeing a glimpse of what the Hilltop has to offer, he is impressed.

“Just education-wise, it probably puts the most emphasis on education than any school that I’ve looked at,” Johnson said. “It is one of my top schools, for sure.”

Johnson also said one of his favorite things about his SMU visit, was listening to Chad Morris, so it’s a good thing he’ll be sticking around for a while.    

“I feel like he is a great man,” Johnson said. “He talks a lot about being able to coach his players and getting to be a father. He said that being a football coach is just something he does not who he is. It was great to hear him say that he loves his players, loves what he does and loves to be there.” 

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