SMU's 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes were a majority defensive players, and right now, SMU's 2018 class looks like it will be the same. While not as defensive-heavy as 2016's 25-man (16 defense) class, SMU has six spots slotted for defensive players right now, with the possibility of going up to eight. That's compared to five for the offense, with the possibility of getting to seven. PonyStampede already broke down the targets to watch for those offensive spots. Here's a look at the defensive targets to watch. SMU is looking at taking a player at each position group.
SMU took a big defensive line group in 2016 and has four more committed for 2017, so this should be a smallish group of no more than two. Edge rusher Jarell Cherry is the biggest name here, with offers from Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas, among others. SMU was on him first and he visited for the July recruiting barbecue and again during the season. He'd be one of the biggest lands under Chad Morris, but he's a longer shot. Jaylon Hutchings is more of a end/tackle type, but he has high interest in SMU after visiting this season and the Mustangs are currently his only offer. If SMU goes aggressively at Devin Winters or Dennis Osagiede, it should have a good chance at landing them. Osagieda has offers from UTSA and Miami (Ohio) and Winters holds an offer from Tulane. Each could play either end or tackle at SMU. Osagiede is a teammate of 2017 SMU defensive back commit Ar'mani Johnson.
SMU hasn't sent out a lot of offers at linebacker yet, though it has time to change that. The staff still wants athletic linebackers who can move in space, so expect to see most of the offers go to guys who primarily play on the outside, rather than players who project as inside linebackers. Expect more offers to go out at linebacker in January and after signing day.
Jake Venables picked up an SMU offer more than a year ago and came to one of SMU's camps over the summer, but he committed to Clemson on Sunday. He is the son of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Jake has a good relationship with Chad Morris and staff, many whom coached with his dad with the Tigers, but was always going to be tough to pull away from Clemson. Chad Bailey is also a teammate of Osagiede's and Johnson's and has recently picked up SEC offers from Ole Miss and Missouri. He's a longer shot, but would be a huge addition for SMU.
Unlike linebacker, SMU has already sent out a lot of offers to defensive backs. SMU has been aggressive with early offers to defensive backs and has taken at least three in each of SMU's last two recruiting classes. That number isn't as likely in the 2018 class, so SMU can be more selective. Look for two here. Brodrick Calhoun and JaQualyn Greene have both been close to committing before. Each is viewed as a corner and SMU is the only FBS offer for both right now. SMU should be able to land either if it puts the press on one to commit. Jeremiah Lewis can play either corner or safety and also visited SMU for a game earlier this year. He recently picked up his first Power Five offer, from Duke. SMU was his first offer back in the spring. In a smaller class, his versatility would be welcomed. Kolby Peel got a visit from the TempoCopter recently and is high on SMU. He came to campus for the barbecue and again for the Houston game. Like Lewis, SMU offered before other schools (Cincinnati, Kansas and Texas State) offered moths later. DeMarvion Overshown is the newest offer and SMU sees him as a safety. A teammate of 2017 SMU running back commit Kayce Medlock, he picked up a Texas offer recently too and would bring great athleticism to the secondary.
The dream lands for SMU would be twins Gemon Green and German Green, who just won a state title with DeSoto. Both visited for the barbecue, then again for the Houston and Memphis games. The win vs. Houston made an impression both that put SMU up there with Colorado as early standout schools. They're sure to add more offers, but SMU has done well with both in the early stages. The same can be said for SMU's recruitment of Tanner McCalister. He visited in June and then again for the barbecue, and SMU offered him early. TCU jumped in with an offer later. SMU has done well recruiting the Green brothers and McCalister, but to land players of their caliber, SMU has to prove it is legit on the field and the Houston win is not a fluke.