Spring superlatives: SMU

After a 25-year drought, SMU finally got back on the winning path and made their first bowl game since receiving the death penalty from the NCAA. Now, the goal is consistency. SMU will once again be a young squad, but expectations are high for them to repeat the success of a year ago.

Here’s a look at the strongest and weakest positions for SMU this spring:

Strongest position: Quarterback

Key returners: Sophomore Kyle Padron (67.1 completion percentage, 1,922 yards, 10 touchdowns)

Key departures: Sophomore Bo Levi Mitchell (56 completion percentage, 1,725 yards, 12 touchdowns)

The skinny: Kyle Padron stepped in last year after Bo Levi Mitchell went down with injury. He led the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984 and set a school record for passing against Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Mitchell transferred earlier this year and Padron will go into the spring as the starter. But he’ll face some tough competition from New Mexico State transfer J.J. McDermott, who is eligible after sitting out last year. Coach June Jones said he’s also looking forward to true freshman Stephen Kaiser arriving on campus in the fall.

Weakest position: Running back

Key returners: Sophomore Zach Line (49 carries, 189 yards, seven touchdowns)

Key departures: Shawnbrey McNeal (236 carries, 1,188, 12 touchdowns)

The skinny: Jones knew there was a possibility that leading rusher Shawnbrey McNeal could leave early for the NFL, but he wasn’t really prepared to see it happen. McNeal was June Jones’ first 1,000-yard rusher and was going to be an integral piece toward continuing the Mustangs success. Jones said he’d have to play incoming freshmen running backs Darryl Fields and Kevin Pope to fill out the depth behind returner Zach Line.