BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The first football game of new head coach Chad Morris’s regime is less than two weeks away, but this past weekend, another SMU sport took the spotlight. Golfer Bryan DeChambeau made history by winning the U. S. Amateur last Sunday. The senior beat University of Virginia junior Derek Bard 7 and 6 in the 36 hole final at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
DeChambeau became just the fifth golfer in history to win the U. S. Amateur and the NCAA individual title in the same year, joining select company. The other four are Jack Nicklaus in 1961, Phil Mikelson in 1990, Tiger Woods in 1996 and Ryan Moore in 2004.
“It’s an honor to be in that field,” DeChambeau told the Associated Press.
DeChambeau is also the fourth SMU golfer to win the U. S. Amateur. The other three are Hank Kuehne in 1998, Colt Knost in 2007 and Kelly Kraft in 2011.
He beat some impressive opponents in the match play event. They included Paul Dunne, who played particularly well as an amateur in the British Open, Maverick McNealey of Stanford, the NCAA Player of the Year, and All-American Matt Nesmith from the University of South Carolina.
By virtue of his play last week, DeChambeau gets exemptions into the 2016 U. S. Open, the 2016 British Open, and likely an invitation to the 2016 Masters.
Last week, the athletic department announced the non-conference Men’s basketball schedule. The first game is at home November 14 against Sam Houston State. Game time is 7:00 PM. The two highlight games in the home portion of the non-conference schedule are Michigan on December 8, which will be televised by ESPN2 (8:00 PM start time) and Gonzaga on Saturday, February 13, which also will be televised on ESPN2 and which has a 9:00 PM start time. (Times referenced are Central.)
Another home game of interest is Brown University on Sunday, November 29 at 2:00 PM. One of the Brown players is Junior Steven Spieth, the younger brother of Jordan Spieth of PGA tour fame. Unfortunately, big brother will not be in town to see little brother play basketball, as he has committed to play in the Australian Open that weekend.
SMU had earlier announced that the Mustangs were entered in the Las Vegas Classic on December 22 and 23. The Mustangs open with a game against Kent State on December 22. The other game in the classic pits Colorado against Penn State. On December 23, the winners from those two games play for first place, while the losers play a consolation game.
SMU Athletics, the Mustang Club, and the SMU Alumni Association have secured special seating in Orleans Arena for the event.
There are a total of eight non-conference games at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs also play in Ft. Worth against TCU on Wednesday, December 2.
Another notable game on the schedule is game two of the season. The Mustangs play at Stanford.
As for football, the Mustangs open the season against Baylor at Ford Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN on Friday, September 4, the Friday before Labor Day.
A pair of Mustangs have made the watch list for prestigious post season honors. SMU senior center Taylor Lasecki was named to the Remington Trophy Fall watch list, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding center in college football. The award is named after Nebraska’s outstanding center, Dave Remington, an All-American in 1981 and 1982.
This is the third consecutive year that Lasecki has made the watch list. He has made 36 starts on the offensive line in his SMU career, 34 of which have been at center. There are 63 centers on the list, 17 of which have been nominated previously.
Senior defensive lineman Cameron Smith made the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. The Weurffel trophy is known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service”. It is presented by the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and it is named after Danny Wuerffel, the 1986 Heisman Trophy winner. The Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS (Division 1-A) player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Smith, a senior has appeared in 36 games for the Mustangs including all 13 in his freshman year in 2011.
As for the team itself, incumbent Matt Davis has won the quarterback competition. The junior led the Mustangs last season in rushing with 613 yards and passing with 855 despite starting just five games. Prescott Line returns at running back, but head coach Chad Morris noted that true freshmen Xavier Jones and Braeden West have been outstanding. Morris is also expecting significant contributions at wide receiver from incoming freshmen Kevin Thomas, Alex Honey and Xavier Castille. Two are likely starters. James Poche was expected to be part of that group, but he has been ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. He can practice this fall and sit on the bench at home games, but will not be allowed to travel with the team.
* Tight end Jeremiah Gaines was awarded the number 23 jersey this season. Since 2009, a deserving player on the team has been chosen to wear number 23 in honor of Jerry Levias. Gaines wore number 84 last year.