As of today, SMU stands at 18 commitments in its 2011 recruiting class, with the Mustangs checking in at No. 46 in the Scout.com team rankings. In comparison to the rest of Conference-USA, SMU trails only Houston (No. 39) in the rankings.
The Mustangs have gone heavy on defense thus far, reeling in twelve verbals on that side of the ball. However, there's reason for excitement with the half-dozen offensive commitments, beginning with a trio of excellent skill position players.
K.C. Nlemchi, a three-star RB ranked No. 45 in the nation at his position, is a durable and explosive workhorse for Katy Cinco Ranch. In 2009, Nlemchi gained almost 2,400 yards on the ground (with 28 TDs) for the 13-2 Cougars.
Cinco Ranch raced to an 8-0 start last season before dropping a 21-20 nailbiter to district rival Katy. Nlemchi and the Cougars will attempt to exact revenge this year against Katy, which posted a 14-2 mark in 2009. You can expect a steady diet of smash-mouth football in the Cinco Ranch/Katy tilt, with Nlemchi and Katy back Donovonn Young shouldering the load.
SMU has also secured a pledge from its field general of the future, QB Conner Preston of Serra High School in Gardena, California.
Preston was a one-man gang for the Cavaliers last year, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 44 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Serra waltzed through its schedule in 2009, going 15-0, including a thrilling 42-41 defeat of Oaks Christian.
In a 55-8 rout of Bosco Tech, Preston put his pinpoint accuracy on display, completing 18-of-21 passes for 247 yards and four TDs. He's accustomed to tossing the football to talented wide receivers, having completed 61 passes last year to Robert Woods, the No. 1 ranked WR in the nation in the 2010 recruiting class.
Woods has departed for the collegiate ranks, but the cupboard is far from bare, as four-star WR George Farmer returns for his senior campaign. The No. 5 ranked receiver in the nation, Farmer caught 41 passes from Preston last year.
The most recent SMU commitment is 6-foot-0, 185-pound wide receiver Nyle Johnson, who has 4.4 speed. Over the past two years, Johnson hauled in approximately 100 passes for 2,000 yards with 25 TDs for University Lab. A top-notch student and natural leader, Johnson is already academically qualified.
Following the 2009 season, Johnson transferred to Capitol Academy, an all-boys school located in north Baton Rouge. However, due to potential eligibility issues, Johnson made another move to Dunham, a private school that happens to be in the same district (7-2A) with both University and Capitol.
Dunham, which was known as Trafton Academy for several years, relies most of the time on a Wing-T offense, so it's entirely possible that Johnson could get a bevy of carries running the football. A dynamic kick returner, Johnson is capable of taking the football to the house on any touch.
The remaining three SMU commits on the offensive side of the ball will provide pass protection and open holes for the running game. There's plenty of muscle on hand, beginning with three-star offensive tackle Carter Wall, the No. 55 ranked player in the nation at his position.
Wall (Fort Bend Travis HS) spurned offers from more than a dozen other schools, including SEC (Mississippi State) and Big 12 (Missouri, Kansas) programs, for the opportunity to play under SMU offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Wall could easily gain 30 pounds or more while maintaining his agility.
SMU has another three-star offensive line commitment from 6-foot-5 giant Kris Weeks, the No. 66 ranked offensive guard in the nation. The Garland Sachse lineman hopes to lead his team to its first-ever playoff appearance this fall.
Center Taylor Lasecki rounds out the current crop of SMU commits on the offensive side of the ball. A 6-foot-3, 260-pounder, Lasecki (Frisco HS) has outstanding strength (370-pound bench press).
Looking ahead, the Mustangs would like to dip into Louisiana again for a second wide receiver, Jermaine Sams. The primary playmaker for 5A St. Paul's (Covington, La.), Sams -- combined with Johnson -- would give SMU a daunting one-two punch at receiver.
Both Johnson and Sams (29 receptions, 662 yards, seven TDs) are legitimate home run threats with the speed to get separation from corners. As an added bonus, the pair of Bayou State WRs are adept kick returners. As a junior, Sams touched off close to 40 yards per kickoff return.
Last year, Sams displayed his big-play ability vs. 5A playoff teams Central (Baton Rouge) and Destrehan. In the Central game, Sams caught two passes for 109 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown reception. In addition, he scored on a 99-yard kickoff return. In the Destrehan game, he had two catches for 132 yards, including an 89-yard scoring grab.
Wide receivers coach Jeff Reinebold oversees the recruitment of Louisiana prospects for the Mustangs.
Another prospect at the top of SMU's wish list is three-star offensive guard Dontae Levingston, the No. 34 ranked player in the country at his position. Levingston, who is scheduled to take an official visit to SMU next month, has the Mustangs in his final three (along with Washington and Oregon).
With only a handful of available spots left in its recruiting class, SMU is seeking to load up on offensive linemen. The Mustangs might add up to three additional lineman, and Levingston (Narbonne HS, Harbor City, Ca.) is the number one target on the board.