NCF Nation: Darryl Fields

SMU opened spring practice Monday with a lot of questions, especially in the offensive backfield. Many of those answers came after the first of 15 sessions was completed.

Coach June Jones raved about the play of quarterback Kyle Padron, who enters spring camp as the starter, but was supposed to get a hefty challenge from New Mexico State transfer J.J. McDermott.

Padron and McDermott are the only two scholarship quarterbacks this spring after Bo Levi Mitchell transferred and Braden Smith moved to safety.

“Already you can tell his confidence in what he’s doing,” Jones said of Padron, who started six games after Mitchell suffered an injury. “He’s worked real hard with [assistant head coach] Dan [Morrison], spending time on the films, and he’s going to get better and better. It’s so fun to have a quarterback that now gets it, and J.J. looked good today, too. He’s a very capable quarterback. So we’re going to have some guys that can throw it in the barn there.”

Padron’s confidence and experience will take some pressure off the running game, which will be young after star Shawnbrey McNeal decided to leave school early for the NFL.

Zach Line, last year’s backup, will miss spring practice as he recovers from an injury, so finding the back to replace Jones’ first-ever 1,000-yard rusher probably won’t happen until the fall. The Mustangs have signees Darryl Fields and Kevin Pope arriving in the summer.

Jones said both players will play this year instead of one of them redshirting like he originally planned.

“We’re going to miss Shawnbrey. Shawnbrey’s a good football player, but we have some young kids coming in and we’ve got some young kids on campus that are good players,” Jones said. “I think as Kyle gets to being more efficient throwing the ball, which obviously he’s going to be this year, it certainly gives the runner an opportunity to make some plays.”

Jones said the entire offense will be limited this spring with seven offensive players recovering from injuries and offseason surgery.

SMU continues with youth movement

February, 4, 2010
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.