SMU 2017 Offensive Class Breakdown

PonyStampede's Andrew Hattersley breaks down the offensive side of the ball in SMU's 2017 class with strengths and weaknesses.

Offensive MVP: Alan Ali

This was a really important signing for SMU and somebody I think can come in and play right away given his impressive strength in the run game. With SMU’s past lineman they have struggled on short yardage situations, largely due to the fact they were not physical enough on those short yardage downs. That is not going to be a problem with Ali who embraces physicality and will take every opportunity he can to finish a block. SMU got a good one in Ali and someone who might well be able to contribute as early as next season. 

Runner-Up: D.J. Gillins

After missing out on a quarterback last year, it was important for SMU to add a signal caller to push Ben Hicks and Rafe Peavey this year. Gillens is a good fit for this offense and while Hicks will probably enter the summer as the starter, the former JUCO quarterback will be right there to step in if Hicks does not produce in year two. SMU's quarterback situation might be the storyline of spring ball and fall camp. Gillins only adds to the depth and talent, though his status for spring ball is unknown after tearing his ACL in September.

Sleeper: Tyler Page

By switching over from quarterback to wide receiver, there has not been a ton of hype surrounding Tyler Page. With SMU’s depth at receiver, he will likely be afforded the time to develop over the next year and should be a big time playmaker for SMU in his time on the Hilltop. Page’s athleticism is one of the big things that jumps out to you right away, but he’s also a really intelligent player and has a good knowledge of how a defense is going to play certain situations from his time at quarterback. Once his route running and size improve he is going to be a good one on the Hilltop. 

Project Player: Austin Upshaw

With DJ Gillins, Rafe Peavey and Ben Hicks on the Hilltop, SMU could afford to take a project player like Austin Upshaw after losing Charlie Brewer to Baylor late in the cycle. Upshaw is certainly a tremendous running threat, and has a nice arm, but needs to work on becoming a more complete cornerback. This means being able to go through multiple progressions and be a little more patient in the pocket. Too often, it feels like if his first read is not available, Upshaw tends to take off running. A good comparison is when Matt Davis first got on campus and had to work on being more patient in the pocket as well. With his good arm strength and speed, this is a good project to take on because he does have some high upside. He's also a former Nebraska baseball commit, but of course at SMU, he won't be playing baseball any longer.

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