Cody Nelson felt like he was at the top of North Texas’ wish list when it came to offensive line prospects this summer.
That made a big impression on the Keller tackle, who orally committed to UNT late Monday.
Nelson had just one offer, from UNT, but said he was told by coaches at Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech that he could receive offers from them if he attended their summer camps.
Nelson decided to go with the team that wanted him most.
“The coaches at North Texas followed me the whole time and showed that they really wanted me,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t a backup plan in case someone else didn’t commit. I felt like I was a Plan B guy with some of the other schools.”
Nelson (6-5, 270 pounds) played both right and left tackle for Keller.
UNT safeties coach Noah Joseph recruited Nelson, who is projected to remain at tackle.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits in the class of 2013 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 6.
Kevin Atkinson, the new head coach at Denton, coached Nelson at Keller before taking over the Broncos’ program early this year. He has known Nelson since he was playing in the Keller youth leagues and says he believes he will develop into a solid college lineman.
“He has a lot of intangibles that go along with his frame,” Atkinson said. “He is very athletic and has good technique. He has been around football all his life and has good work habits. That translates into being a good college player.”
Nelson named the proximity of UNT to his hometown as one of the reasons he decided to commit to play for the Mean Green, and he said his decision is final.
“I made my commitment,” Nelson said. “I’m not going to any more camps.”
Nelson did not earn a spot on the All-District 7-5A team in a loaded league that included Southlake Carroll and Guyer last year, when the district featured several top college prospects playing tackle.
J.J. Price of Carroll and Sam Rice of Coppell signed with Purdue and SMU, respectively, after being named first-team all-district at tackle. Guyer’s Patrick Morris, who has committed to TCU, was on the first team as a junior. Second-team picks Simon Goines of Keller Central and John Ferguson of Guyer signed with UCLA and Navy, respectively, while Carroll’s Cam Manning has committed to Louisiana Tech.
Nelson has spent the summer trying to put on 10 pounds in an effort to land a spot on the all-district team this fall. He hopes to push his weight to 290 by the time he arrives at UNT for his freshman season, when he hopes to compete for playing time with a team he believes is on the rise.
UNT finished 5-7 last season under first-year head coach Dan McCarney, its highest win total since 2004.
“Coach McCarney helped Iowa State go from being no one to being a good program and was also at Wisconsin when people were giving away tickets,” Nelson said. “North Texas had its highest attendance ever last year, so they are doing something well.”
McCarney was an assistant at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez and contributed to the Badgers’ improvement in the early 1990s. He went on to become the head coach at Iowa State and led a team that went winless in the season before his arrival in 1995 to five bowl games in six seasons beginning in 2000.
Nelson said he believes UNT is headed for a similar turnaround after drawing 113,186 fans last year.
“I want to be a part of a team that will become a powerhouse,” Nelson said.
Nelson is anticipating a few side benefits of his decision to stay close to home.
“It will be nice to be able to go home on Sundays,” Nelson said. “I’ll be able to get a home cooked meal and get my laundry done.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
NORTH TEXAS COMMITMENTS
The following is a list of players who have committed to become members of North Texas 2013 signing class: