Turner Smiley heard all about Dan McCarney from his father ever since North Texas’ head coach arrived in Denton nearly two years ago.
Keaton Smiley was a defensive back at Iowa when McCarney was the Hawkeyes’ defensive line coach in the 1980s, a connection that played a small part in Turner Smiley’s decision to play for the Mean Green.
The 6-foot-1 wide receiver from Frisco Wakeland committed to play for UNT on Sunday night.
“I have talked to some other schools but had never talked to any of those schools’ head coaches,” Turner Smiley said. “I always talk to coach Mac. My dad speaks highly of him and says he has great character and that he is building UNT’s program the right way.”
Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day recruits in the class of 2013 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 6.
Smiley has caught 60 passes for 862 yards and 12 touchdowns this season for the Wolverines.
Smiley also was offered a scholarship by Navy and had drawn interest from several other schools, including Illinois.
UNT special teams/tight ends coach Kent Riddle recruited Smiley.
“He’s a very good player with outstanding athletic ability, a burst of speed and big-play potential,” Wakeland coach Marty Secord said. “UNT is a good opportunity for him. They are running a good program and are headed in the right direction. You can see that they are doing it the right way and are taking local kids who are not far from them.”
Smiley participated in one of UNT’s camps in June and posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds.
The connection his father has with McCarney made Smiley comfortable with the idea of playing for UNT, but it was the direction of the program that was the most important factor in his decision.
UNT finished 5-7 last season and posted its top win total since 2004. McCarney has led UNT to a 3-6 start this year while facing a tough schedule that included games at national powerhouses Kansas State and LSU.
UNT will leave the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA after this season. The move will place UNT in a regionally based league with Texas rivals Rice, UTEP and Texas-San Antonio in addition to traditional regional opponents Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and Tulane.
UNT is playing its second season in Apogee Stadium, its new $79 million venue.
“The main reason I picked North Texas is having a chance to play for a program that is going to be successful,” Smiley said. “They have Mac leading them, are going to a new conference and have a lot of young players who are contributing this season.”
Smiley is hoping to contribute early in his career at UNT, both as a wide receiver and as a kick returner, a role he fills for Wakeland.
Smiley said he can play either on the outside or in the slot.
He was a first-team All-District 9-4A selection both as a wide receiver and a defensive back last year.
Smiley is the 12th player to commit to UNT for its 2013 recruiting class, a total that includes Brock Berglund, a former Kansas quarterback who transferred to UNT this fall.
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 orally committed to become members of North Texas 2013 signing class:
Valor Christian (Colo.)
Fort Bend Elkins
Wichita Falls Rider
Fort Bend Austin
* Transfer currently enrolled at UNT