If there were a "sleeper" team in the WAC with "sleeper" pro-prospects on its' roster it would be the SMU Mustangs. This team was better than the 4-7 they posted last season and now former K-State defensive coordinator Phil Bennett takes over. There is talent on this roster; enough to win games this year as well as to be called out on draft day next April.
Most of the prospects on offense are late round/free agent type choices. Tackle Judson Davis is a powerful blocker that uses leverage to move opponents off the line off scrimmage, clearing the way for his runners. Also a heady lineman that works hard, Davis is very limited with his agility, blocking range and lacks the massive, big-body you want at right tackle but has some growth potential or even possibilities at guard. SMU has a trio of pass catchers to watch. Chris "the Comet" Cunningham is a receiver with a slight built that runs like the wind and impacts the game returning punts. He is fast and plays that way, but also small and plays a timid brand of football. After flashing as a sophomore, Cunningham never took his game to the next level and needs a big senior campaign to jump into the late frames. When mentioning tight ends the name John Hampton rarely comes up and it is a shame. Hampton is a solid pass catcher that consistently makes the difficult catch and gets into the defensive secondary for the reception. While he works his blocks Hampton lacks the top size/speed numbers, a situation which will get him only free agent notice. They have a bevy of backs to watch including underclassmen ShanDerrick Charles and Keylon Kincade but the ball carrier to watch is Kris Briggs, a big, interior runner that can carry the load. Briggs play time was cut last season and was moved to fullback for his senior campaign and could gain the attention of scouts with a big campaign in '02.
The Mustangs are strong on defense, especially up the middle and on the corners. Tackle Lute Croy is a decent sized inside thumper, quick off the snap and best defending the run. He is not starting material at the next level rather one with an outside shot at backing-up as a four-three tackle. Linebacker Vic Viloria has been productive the past two years as he is a smart defender, constantly positioning himself to make a play on the ball carrier and chasing around to make something positive happen. Viloria displays decent range to go along with his brains but touches the scales under 6-foot, which limits his potential to be drafted in any of the seven rounds. Height notwithstanding, he is the type of player a coach will take a liking to and bring into camp as he'll add inexpensive depth at linebacker while offering great potential on special teams. In Kevin Garrett the Mustangs have one of the most underrated corners in the nation. Garrett, a fundamentally sound cover man with the instincts to match is solid in just about every aspect of his game. The only concern we have is his ability to run downfield with speedier receivers. If Phil Bennett brings the K-State defense with him, one that employs eight defenders in the box and relies on man-coverage, Garrett's cover skills will be tested in '02. Should he respond a first day selection could be in the offing. Juniors defensive backs Jonas Rutledge, a corner, and safety Rueben Moodley, are a pair to keep an eye on.