Four Biggest Risers in SMU Football Spring Practice

SMU Football's spring practice will be wrapping up soon. Pony Stampede has the four players who've made the best impression so far.

Elijah McQueen

McQueen, who just got on campus for this semester, has been seriously turning heads in spring practice so far. While SMU recruited McQueen as a safety out of Terrell high school, they have been playing him at the star position, which is a hybrid of linebacker and safety. Measuring in at 5-10 and 175 pounds when he was recruited, many would call McQueen too small to play the star. But he appears to have put on a few pounds of muscle since he has gotten to the Hilltop, and is thriving. In practice, McQueen has made impressive plays in coverage, including an interception of Ben Hicks in Saturday's scrimmage, as well as a couple of big hits. Chad Morris has taken note of McQueen's strong performance.

"The guy that keeps impressing people day after day is Elijah McQueen," Morris said last week. "He's definitely been a great addition."

Trey Quinn

The LSU transfer has drawn praise from the coaching staff since he arrived at SMU, and he has played well in spring so far. Chad Morris has known Quinn for a long time - he recruited Quinn at Clemson - and has been impressed by him since day one. Morris has stressed that Quinn is continually improving throughout spring practice.

Quinn has been taking snaps with both the first and the second teams in practice, and he has been getting open consistently no matter who he matches up against. He uses good technique and bursts of speed to beat corners. Morris had some nice things to say about Quinn before Saturday's scrimmage. 

"He's everything we thought he was when we were recruiting him at Clemson," Morris said before the scrimmage on Saturday. "And to be able to get him here, he's been a huge addition to this football team. He's a great football player but he's a better person. And the character that this guy brings to our wide receiver room, and to our football team, you can't measure it. This guy's gonna have an unbelievable future ahead of him." 

SMU's wide receiver core was arguably their biggest strength last year, and Quinn gives Joe Craddock a new weapon to work with next year. 

Demerick Gary

Gary stepped in as a true freshman last year and made plays. The staff is certainly expecting even more from him next season. Despite his youth, Morris has said that he expects Gary to become one of the leaders of the defense. In practice and scrimmages, Gary has been the most impressive defensive lineman. He has been disruptive as a pass rusher, and beat offensive linemen to make plays in the Mustang drill. Gary has been pushed inside to defensive tackle this spring, and has excelled there. 

"We would actually like to grow him closer to the ball," Morris said of Gary. "We've used this spring to see that. We'll still put him out on the edge, doing some things. Our focus this spring was to try to see what kind of havoc he could cause a little bit closer. And he's done a good job with it." 

Morris is not 100% sure that Gary's future with SMU will be on the inside, but he is using the spring to see what Gary can do in that spot.

Raymond Epps

Epps, a grad transfer from Arizona State, is an absolute giant. He is listed on SMU's website as 6-4 and 248 pounds, and he looks even bigger than that in person. He has used brute strength to make several eye-popping plays this spring. He absolutely demolished Kyran Mitchell on a block in the Mustang drill and flattened Cedric Lancaster with a stiff arm. Epps will have to work for playing time this upcoming season, as Ryan Becker and Corey Rau are sharing first team reps with him. Morris has been complimentary of Epps.

"He brings a lot of maturity to this football team and a lot of experience," Morris said. "He played in an offense that's extremely similar to what we are at Arizona State. His knowledge, his wisdom as a player, making plays. He's definitely having a great time being that leader."    

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