UNIVERSITY PARK — Wednesday morning began with Sonny Dykes standing at practice asking people about their plans for Thanksgiving.
But by mid-day, the placid scene of a head coach inquiring about the holidays was replaced by a mass-exodus scenario from SMU’s program.
In the span of 20 minutes, SMU lost four commitments from prominent recruits. As rumors of Dykes’ imminent departure become more pronounced, Garland’s Jordan Hudson and Chace Biddle, Grand Prairie’s Savion Red, and North Mesquite’s Cordale Russell all decided to step away.
Less than an hour later, Richland’s CJ Nelson joined the defectors.
Hudson and Biddle were the headliners of SMU’s best recruiting class since The Death Penalty. They were also SMU’s highest-rated, non-quarterback recruits in decades, per 247sports.
The combination of Dykes and associate head coach Ra’Shaad Samples were main influences on why all five of these high school players committed to SMU, especially Hudson and Biddle.
So, the nearly synchronous de-commitment, according to multiple sources, could be a clear sign of Dykes’ and Sample’s future.
Dykes, per multiple reports, is believed to be leaving SMU to take TCU’s head coaching position as early as next week.
Samples, who has earned the reputation as one of the best recruiters in Texas, is receiving interest from the University of Texas, Texas A&M and other Power Five schools to join their staff.
Samples in particular was the main recruiter for all five players who de-committed on Wednesday.
The rapid unraveling of SMU’s best recruiting class is in line with the hasty unraveling of SMU’s football program over the last week.
On Saturday, SMU lost to Cincinnati 48-14, the worst loss of the Dykes era at SMU. It was also SMU’s third loss in the last four games as the program has gone from inside the top 20 to unranked in every poll.
On Sunday, Dykes addressed the team about the numerous reports that said he would be leaving for TCU. Dykes did not tell the team whether he would stay or go, but committed himself to coaching SMU’s final game of the regular season this Saturday.
SMU senior Alan Ali admitted that the reports were a “distraction.” Another upperclassman said it had become “harder and harder” to ignore the reports as SMU has slogged through the end of its season.