The SMU coaching staff has really put an emphasis on finding some quality defensive ends in the Class of 2014.
Over the weekend, the Mustangs landed their first commit at the position in the form of Michael Epley. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder out of Leander originally picked up an offer earlier this spring and has always had a soft spot in his heart for SMU.
"I wanted to commit to a school this summer, and SMU really took over. Coach(Bob) Palcic retired so Coach (Eric) Daniels started recruiting me, and we've been in contact for a while.
"I talked to my parents about it, and we decided that SMU was a great fit. I called Coach Daniels, and he was pumped up about it. He was excited and told me that they really loved me. I also got to talk to Coach (Bert) Hill, and he was really excited too. They've been with me since Day 1 so I don't think I'm going anywhere other than SMU."
Part of the reason Epley, who also held an offer from Rice, decided to go ahead and pull the trigger was his strong relationship with both Daniels and Hill.
"I love Coach Daniels. I can tell that he really loves football. My offensive line coach actually knew him from their time at Hardin-Simmons so it made it easier for me to connect with him," Epley said. "Coach Hill helped out a lot with my recruitment. He was actually the first one to show interest in me. He is probably one my favorite college defensive line coaches."
Last Thursday, Daniels and Hill gave Epley a tour of SMU when he arrived on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit. Epley says he really considered committing on the spot and enjoyed his time at his future home.
"I thought the campus and the facilities were really nice. I had good conversations with Coach Daniels and Coach Hill. I didn't get to speak to Coach (June) Jones because he was on vacation," Epley said. "But I love the way they are running the program and the direction they're heading in."
Last season, Epley notched 80 tackles and 10 sacks en route to bring named first team all-district and believes his production will carry over to the next level.
"I think I can make an early impact and even play some linebacker in their defense since they blitz about 30 percent of the time," Epley said. "They said I remind them of Zach Wood because my aggressiveness. I play hard every down and can't wait to get up there."
Video and analysis of the latest SMU commitment in the 2014 class, an athletic defensive lineman…