Q&A: Sophomore defensive back sees leadership void in defense
By: Billy Embody
SMU defensive back Rodney Clemons and the rest of his class are poised to take big steps forward this season. Clemons caught up with Scout after the Spring Game to chat about his spring and the future.
Q: How do you feel like spring went for you?
A: "I tore my ACL last year and in high school, I didn't play football until my senior year so I didn't go through spring. So this is my first spring so overall, I feel it went good."
Q: Where do you feel you improved the most?
A: "Tackling by far. Last year, I led the team in missed tackles. True statement. 22 missed tackles so it's not something I'm proud of so this spring I put an emphasis on tackling and I've only missed one or two tackles so I think I've improved."
Q: What was coach Malone and coach Loepp's message to you after the season?
A: "They said I'm a good player. I'm kind of hard on myself so they said with me being a good player, if I work on my tackling, I'll be that much better because that was one of my weak parts of my game. I came out here working on driving my feet, keeping my head up — I had a real bad problem of stopping my feet last year on contact — Came out here hitting the sled and driving my feet and it carried over to the field."
Q: Your class coming in now into the secondary starting to take some spots. What's that like for you guys to start that together?
A: "We are a young team with all the freshmen and sophomores on this team, but I feel like with us playing at such a young age, we can only get better with playing time. By the time we're juniors and seniors, we'll be that much better."
Q: Where do you guys have to take the biggest step as a secondary?
A: "Biggest leadership. We're all young. We lost D-Mill and Horace so probably leadership and just knowing our defense and communicating throughout the defense."
Q: How do you become better as a leader? Is it natural?
A: "It's by your habits on the field. If you work hard on the field, then people will follow you. If you don't work hard on the field and you're just talking, people aren't going to listen to you. You've got to prove it by your actions and people will follow you."
Q: What's the goal for this defense in 2017?
A: "When the coaches first got here, we had one of the worst defenses. Last year, we improved so much so this year, we want to improve on that. We were leading the nation in turnovers and interceptions so we just want to build on that and keep on rising as a defensive unit as a whole. So pretty much throughout every area of our defense."
2019 DE has "mind blown" by SMU offer
By: Andrew Hattersley
Before receiving an offer from SMU on Tuesday, 2019 Huntsville HS (Tex.) defensive lineman T'Vondre Sweat didn’t know much about SMU, but he won’t be forgetting them anytime soon.
“I’m only 15 years old right now so getting an offer from SMU my mind was blown, I couldn’t believe it,” Sweat said.
The staff has spoken to the talented pass rusher a little bit over the phone, but has mostly been in communication with Sweat’s coach as the sophomore lineman continues to grow.
“They said I would be a good fit for the school, for the football team and for the program,” Sweat said.
With multiple camps coming up this summer, Sweat does plan to attend one of them and continue to develop a relationship with the staff.
“I will go for a camp, if they have one I will go it wouldn’t be a problem,” Sweat told PonyStampede.
The 6-3, 240-pound defensive lineman is also going to use this offer as motivation to get even better.
“It makes me push more, get in the weight room, and I see now that I can be ready for the next level,” Sweat said.
So far, Sweat hasn’t received too much interest aside from SMU and Texas A&M who have not offered yet. Coming off a good sophomore season, he is hoping to get even better next year by getting his team deeper into the playoffs.
“Getting in the weight room, getting stronger, working on my footwork to get faster,” Sweat said before elaborating on his goals, “Getting my team to State, getting first team All-District and MVP because I got first-team All-District my sophomore year.”
2018 safety talks SMU offer, plans summer decision
By: Billy Embody
2018 Clear Lake (Tex.) safety Cameron Phillips picked up his first to offers from Purdue and SMU, which had him struggling to find the words to describe those emotions.
“It’s a loss of words. It’s just crazy. It’s all real now,” Phillips told Scout. “I feel like my film is now out there and I’m happy that someone could see that I could play. I’m ecstatic and humbled and just really happy for myself. I put all the puzzle pieces together to make this happen for a long time and it all paid off.”
Purdue was a nice first offer to pick up even with it being far from home.
“It was just shocking. And it’s a great offer. I would consider playing there,” Phillips said.
The SMU offer though, was like a dream for the 6-1, 165-pound safety, who talked with Archie McDaniel and Jess Loepp. He's supposed to talk with Chad Morris this week.
“I’ve dreamed of playing somewhere like SMU. Really, SMU was the first college to start recruiting me," Phillips said. "They never talked to me 1-on-1 personally, but they were the first to send me a player package and wanting me to come to their camps. For me to get an offer from them and also have family that stays in Dallas, I love it.”
Phillips likes his area recruiter, McDaniel and Loepp was telling Phillips that he wished SMU got in the mix earlier.
“Coach McDaniel is just real. It just felt like I could build a relationship based off our phone call. I’m excited to see what he’s like as a person," Phillips said. "Coach Loepp, he was telling me how he’s disappointed how he’s just now seeing my film. He said he’d love for me to be part of the football team. We were talking about family, school and other stuff.”
Phillips gave high praise to SMU when putting them up there with in-state Power 5 schools Texas and Texas A&M.
“I feel like SMU is up there with Texas A&M and UT. I feel like they’re not there yet, but they’re close. That’s the type of college I’d like to play at," Phillip said. "They’ve been a great team, but they don’t have that UT, you know when someone talks about UT you just think of the history. They don’t have that, but that’s why I like SMU a lot. But Purdue also, in the Big Ten, I love that conference. Every year that would be a fight. I could see myself playing there.”
Being from Houston, watching the Mustangs beat the Cougars this season was big for him.
"That was a big statement. When I was watching the postgame highlights and all the stuff about it, it shocked me. I was like, ‘wow, SMU, they can play.’ Because U of H last year, they were talking about how they wanted to go to the championship. For SMU to beat them, that’s a statement for SMU and everybody in Texas knows SMU can play.”
Houston has also began reaching out and while he wouldn't say that he'd favor the Cougars right away if they offered, he takes pride in being from Houston, but it's about relationships for Phillips.
“Of course, of course. I take pride in being from Houston. So playing for my hometown would be something I could do with no hesitation. But the reason I say this is because there are big-name schools, but it’s all about the relationships, all about the coaching staffs.”
Phillips has the frame to add more weight and models his game after former Longhorn and current Seattle Seahawk Earl Thomas.
“I’m a big defensive back. When I think of myself, I think of like an Earl Thomas. I don’t hit hard, but I make all my tackles, I break everything up, I have good football speed. I can play corner and safety. Playing free safety, I take over the field and feel like a floor general because I’m active.”
Tulane, Tulsa, UTSA and Texas State are showing Phillips interest, who plans to commit before two-a-days start in August. Texas State and SMU are two schools Phillips expects to visit soon.
2019 defensive back talks SMU visit
By: Andrew Hattersley
Just over a month after getting his first offer from SMU, 2019 Mansfield HS (Tex.) safety Miles Williams was on campus this past weekend for a visit with SMU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and defensive backs coach Jess Loepp.
“I enjoyed SMU a lot, the campus itself was really nice, I like how everything was within walking distance so there is no confusion or way of getting lost,” Williams said, “I also like the hospitality shown by the coaches.”
Both coaches praised what they have seen on film from Williams, but encouraged him to keep working on improving.
“They just really liked what they saw on film from me,” Williams told PonyStampede, “They just want me to keep evolving my game.”
One of the more interesting parts of the visit for the 6-0, 165-pound safety was seeing the weight room and comparing that to what he’s working with now at Mansfield.
“The locker room and the weight room was pretty weird because Mansfield’s weight room isn’t small, but it’s a decent size, but seeing their weight room was just like triple the size of ours,” Williams said, “The nameplates in the locker room were really cool, they had your name, what high school you went to, where you’re from and I think it’s just pretty cool to have your own little locker.”
Williams will be back up at SMU in a little over two months from July 21-22 for the SMU cookout and camp the next day. The Mansfield safety will be paying to attention to how the staff interacts with other players and coaches, and then also hopes to put on a good showing the next day during the camp.
“Just to see everyone they’ve recruited and how the coaches interact with everyone’s parents and how they interact with other athletes,” Williams said, “For the camp I just want to go out there and compete and show I’ve earned the scholarship I get.”