SMU continues with youth movement

SMU would be the first to remark that the 2010 recruiting class is the best the Mustangs have signed, maybe since the 1980s.

That’s fitting considering coach June Jones has created a renaissance at SMU, notching an 8-5 record, the school’s first eight-win season since 1984, and the school’s first bowl game since that same year.

But even Jones would tell you that his program isn’t where it wants to be quite yet.

“We’re still probably a recruiting class or half a recruiting class from really just not holding on to your rear ends with injuries,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of good players. In fact, I think every one of the players we have in this class will have chance to get on the field and help us next year. So that’s pretty good.”

For the third consecutive season, Jones is going to put out a team that’s built around young players. The Mustangs started 11 freshmen or sophomores last season, including quarterback Kyle Padron, who came on in place of injured started Bo Levi Mitchell in the middle of the year and never relinquished the spot.

The strength of this class is built around in-state prospects. The Mustangs signed 18 players from the state of Texas and seven of those players are three-star recruits, according to ESPN’s Scouts Inc. Overall, the Mustangs signed 11 three-star recruits.

The headliner of the class is quarterback Steven Kaiser from De Smet Jesuit in St. Louis, Mo. Kaiser is rated the No. 17 quarterback in the country, and Jones thinks he’ll give SMU's other young quarterbacks, none of which are older than a junior, a run for their money.

“He might be the best quarterback I’ve looked at on film in the last 10 years of coaching college,” Jones said. “We’re excited about those prospects of what we have at quarterback.”

Madill, Okla., running back Darryl Fields might see early playing time with former SMU back Shawnbrey McNeal opting to leave early for the NFL draft. Fields rushed for 1,495 yards and 25 touchdowns on just 145 carries last season.

Kevin Pope is another running back prospect Jones said would probably be utilized as a freshman.

Jones also expects to utilize the versatility of some of his more athletic signees, including John Tyler (Tyler, Texas) duo Jeremy Johnson and Ricky Collins.

“I think this is probably the best recruiting class this school has had in a long, long time,” Jones said.