There have been quite a few "biggest post death penalty" events since the arrival of June Jones at SMU. This recruiting weekend for the Mustangs will go down not only as one of the most crucial in the last 25 years, but in the program's history.
Upon Jones arrival on the Hilltop, he vowed to recruit the state of Texas harder than previous coaching staffs. In his first three recruiting classes, Mustang fans saw progress being made. Not only was SMU gaining more interest from high school programs across the state, but recruits were deciding to head to Dallas, forgoing opportunities at lower Big 12 offers.
Three years later, SMU is still recruiting Texas harder than ever, but has started to establish a pipeline in another big recruiting state.
After snagging recruits here and there out of California, the Mustangs are heavily embedded in The Golden State in 2011. The big reason why? It's behind the efforts of potential non-bcs recruiter of the year Adrian Klemm. The former NFL player/SMU offensive line coach grew up playing high school football in Los Angles and still has many ties to the area.
"It's not every day - not even every year - that a school such as SMU, located in Texas, can beat out the heavy hitters - USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon - that are recruiting a kid from the west coast," said Scout.com Midland Manager Greg Powers. "Moreland had an impressive offer sheet. It's a big deal for SMU and if the program continues to experience success on the field, then they'll certainly continue to be in a good spot in regard to recruiting on a national scope."
Narbonne offensive lineman Dontae Levingston is making the trip to SMU this weekend as well. Levinston has offers from Florida, Oregon, and Washington, but Klemm will look to get another major skin on the wall if he can add the 3-star to the Mustangs' commitment list. Levingston has already visited Washington and will look to visit Eugene in a few weeks, making his decision shortly after. With Klemm's strong relationship with the California product, the Mustangs are expected to be in it until the final hours.
This weekend Klemm will also have California quarterback Conner Preston in for his official. The Junipero Serra starter has the Cavs out to a 6-0 start, throwing for over 1600 yards and 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions. When Preston committed, the SMU coaching staff had no worries about him being a player they needed to stay on. Now, Preston is trying to help recruit for them. Staying in constant contact with Levingston.
"I'm constantly telling him all the reasons why he should be a Mustang and why I want to play with him for four years," said the quarterback.
While Klemm's done an amazing job out west, he has also won a few big recruiting battles in the state of Texas.
William B. Travis offensive lineman Carter Wall chose SMU over offers from Missouri, Houston, Arizona State, and Mississippi State, electing to be coached by Klemm. Wall will also be visiting this weekend and SMU will look to get him in front of Levingston and another offensive lineman undecided with an offer.
When Klemm won verbals from Moreland and Preston, he showed he had the ability to recruit outside his position. He even impressed more when he landed wide receiver Arrius Holleman from Lubbock Monterey (TX). A wide receiver stuck in a running attack, Holleman had offers from Texas Tech, Houston, and UTEP. He chose SMU due to his relationship with Klemm and will look to take his official visit this weekend.
"Klemm is good people," stated Holleman to PonyStampede.com last night. "I'm pumped to visit."
It's not just player that are committed or with offers from Klemm coming in this weekend. Taylor Reich, an offensive tackle out of San Diego will be also making his way to Dallas for an official visit. It's believed that Reich is on the cusp of an offer, but Klemm wants to see him up close and personal.
"I'm really excited to get up to SMU this weekend and see what being a Mustang is all about. I can't wait to meet the coaches and see the team play," said Reich.
Reich will surly be showed the ropes by SMU offensive line commits Taylor Lasecki (Frisco) and Kris Weeks (Sachse). Both have taken in plenty of practices and games due to their closeness to the SMU, but will be taking their official visits this weekend.
While Moreland, Mitchell, and Levingston might not be names like Eric Dickerson, Jerry Ball, and Craig James, SMU has not seen this quality of recruits on campus since the 1980s.
Klemm's hard work is paying off this season, but this weekend will go a long way in telling whether the coach has a good year when it comes to recruiting or a great year.
With almost all of his west coast kids knowing each other, the SMU offensive line coach is hoping by bringing all of them in at the same time they form a bond. A bond that could make them a strong force for four to five years at SMU.