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SMU's Preston Stone: Countdown to ACC Launch


SMU Mustangs QB Preston Stone
© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

SMU Mustangs quarterback Preston Stone is a Dallas native. He had a remarkable high school career as a dual-threat QB, throwing for a jaw-dropping 13,178 yards and 148 touchdowns, along with 2,172 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns.


As a consensus four-star recruit in the 2021 class, Stone received offers from Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC and others before committing to his hometown Mustangs.



In leading the Mustangs to the championship of the American Athletic Conference in 2023, Stone threw for 3,197 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only 6 interceptions. He also had 4 rushing touchdowns.


Stone broke his leg in the Mustangs' regular-season finale against Navy and consequently missed the AAC championship game and the team's bowl game. However, he is now on the mend.



Stone is a redshirt junior going into the upcoming season, in which the Mustangs are transitioning from FBS's Group of 5 to the Power Four.


Stone's Supporting Cast

SMU's depth chart reveals that coach Rhett Lashlee and his staff have surrounded Stone with an impressive ensemble of teammates for the 2024 season.


SMU Coach Lashlee and Team
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Line

Stone will have strong support up front in the Mustangs' inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The projected starters on the offensive line are:




Chamblee transferred to SMU from Arkansas, where he started eight games in 2023 and was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team. Picking up Chamblee was a major coup for the Ponies. ESPN rated him the No. 6 player in the transfer portal. Anderson is also a transferee, coming to Dallas from Oklahoma, where he was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 Conference honoree. Osborne is a three-year starter for the Mustangs. He was a team captain last season. Clark was a three-year starter at the University of Miami before transferring to SMU last season. And like Anderson, Byrd transferred to SMU from Oklahoma. He was a consensus four-star recruit in the 2020 class.


This diverse, capable and predominantly veteran offensive line is poised to provide Stone with the support and protection he needs to excel in 2024.


Receivers

The 2024 Mustangs' squad features a stable of talented and experienced receivers. The forecasted starters are:


SMU Mustangs Wide Receiver Jordan Hudson
© Jason Snow/The Patriot Ledger/USA TODAY NETWORK

Brinson played two seasons at Miami before transferring to SMU in 2023. He competed in all of the Mustangs' games last year and had 431 receiving yards with 2 touchdown receptions. Hudson is a four-star recruit who played his freshman season at TCU. Last year with the Mustangs, he hauled in 30 receptions for 425 yards and 7 touchdowns. Bailey was a team captain last year and led SMU with 42 receptions for 528 yards. Maryland is another four-star recruit who started six games at tight end as a true freshman in 2022. Last year, he had 518 receiving yards and was named first-team All-AAC.



In SMU's pass-oriented offense, the connection between Stone and this quartet of receivers will be key to the success of the Ponies.


Running Backs

Turning to the running game, the Mustangs aspire to rekindle the glory days of the "Pony Express." In the early 1980s, before the NCAA imposed the "death penalty" on SMU, Eric Dickerson and Craig James. graced the Mustangs' backfield.



Another pair of talented athletes are the current stewards of the Mustangs' running game: Jaylan Knighton returns as a graduate student following the 2023 season in which he was SMU's leading rusher with 745 yards and 7 touchdowns. Junior LJ Johnson Jr. will share duties with Knighton in the backfield. Johnson transferred to SMU in 2023 after beginning his college career at Texas A&M. In his first year with the Mustangs, he rushed for 576 yards and 4 touchdowns.


SMU and Stone will count on Knighton and Johnson in 2024 to lend balance to Lashlee's potent, pass-first offense.


Preston Stone's Heisman Aspirations

In SMU's inaugural ACC season, Stone will have ample opportunity to showcase his talent. SMU kicks its season off on Aug. 24 with a nonconference showdown in Reno against the Nevada Wolfpack. Thereafter, the schedule features matchups against high-profile opponents including Florida State, Louisville, Stanford and Cal.



In January, SportsBetting.ag released odds for 21 players deemed to have the best chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. Stone is on the list, with 150/1 odds. (Thus, Stone's win probability is assessed at 0.66 percent, and a $10 bet on him would yield a $1,500 profit if he won.) Stone is the only contender on the 21-player list who competed for a Group of 5 school in 2023.


Stay tuned to College Football Dawgs for continued reporting on Stone and the Mustangs in their exciting first season in the ACC.





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21. jun.

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