The SMU Mustangs will be looking to right the ship in 2016 after three straight down seasons. And for SMU to rebound after a disappointing stretch the past three years, many players will have to step up and make an impact this season. This article will talk about the four most important SMU players heading into the 2016 season.
Matt Davis (6-0, 212, Sr)
Quarterback Matt Davis had a pretty long road in getting to SMU, but the Mustangs are glad he’s found a home in Dallas, Texas. Davis began his college career at Texas A&M and after redshirting in 2012 while sitting behind Johnny Manziel, Davis transferred to the junior college ranks and had a stellar 2013 season. After transferring to SMU following the 2013 season, Davis got immediate playing time at quarterback for the Mustangs. He finished the 2014 season with 855 passing yards, three touchdowns to five interceptions, 613 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in 10 games while starting the final five games of the 2014 season. Davis got better during the 2015 season and was very impressive, throwing for 2,259 passing yards, 16 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, 761 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Davis has proved to be a solid dual-threat quarterback and for SMU to get back in the postseason discussion in 2016, he will be a crucial part. Expect Davis to take another step this season and help the Mustangs get back in the bowl game discussion.
Courtland Sutton (6-4, 215, So)
SMU’s offense saw the emergence of a star wide receiver last season in Courtland Sutton. As a freshman, Sutton exploded out of the gates and had one of the best seasons for an SMU wide receiver in recent memory. Sutton played in only two games as a freshman in 2014 before being shut down the remainder of the season with an injury. He made up for that season in a big way in 2015, accounting for 49 receptions for 862 yards and nine touchdowns, earning a spot on the USA Today Freshman All-America team. His 862 receiving yards were an SMU freshman record and also tied Mustangs great Emmanuel Sanders for the most touchdown receptions in a single season by a freshman with nine. Now as a sophomore, Sutton looks to take an even bigger step in 2016. The duo of Matt Davis to Courtland Sutton could wreak havoc in the AAC this season.
Jackson Mitchell (6-0, 224, Sr)
A player to lookout for on SMU’s defense in 2016 is linebacker Jackson Mitchell. Mitchell has been with the Mustangs for three years and has improved each season since his freshman season in 2013. In very limited playing time in 2013, Mitchell accounted for three total tackles and ½ tackle for loss. He improved in 2014 and got more playing time, racking up 14 total tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. Mitchell improved even more in 2015 as he accounted for 38 total tackles, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Now as a senior, Mitchell’s trend of improvement looks to get even better. With the losses at the linebacker position from 2015, Mitchell will be leaned on heavily in 2016 and could be an anchor of the Mustangs’ defense.
Horace Richardson (6-0, 212, Sr)
Horace Richardson will be a key component of the SMU defense in 2016. After battling through injuries during his Mustangs career thus far, the senior cornerback will look to have a standout senior season. Richardson saw playing time in one game in 2012 before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of that season and was rewarded a medical redshirt. In limited playing time in 2013, Richardson racked up six total tackles. Richardson’s 2014 season saw improvement as he accounted for 27 total tackles, one tackle for loss and two interceptions after missing the first three games of the season due to an injury. After missing five games due to an injury in 2015, Richardson played in seven games and racked up 21 total tackles and two interceptions. Now healthy heading into the 2016 season, Richardson could be a major factor for SMU’s defense and expect the cornerback to put up career-best numbers.