Sergio Medina heard a friend was headed to a football camp this summer and decided to tag along.
That simple decision turned out to be one that changed the course of the Boutte (La.) Hahnville linebacker’s life.
Medina didn’t know a lot about North Texas back then but liked what he saw during that one-day camp. The same was true of UNT’s coaching staff, which began recruiting Medina and invited him back for an official visit last weekend.
Medina committed on the spot and was one of two players UNT picked up commitments from in the past few days. Trinity Valley Community College offensive lineman Shawn McKinney also committed on his visit.
Oral commitments are non-binding. The mid-term signing period for junior college players begins Dec. 19, when McKinney plans to sign with UNT. National signing day for players in the class of 2013 is Feb. 6.
“Everyone made me feel at home and the coaches are all really nice,” Medina said. “They want to win. [UNT head coach Dan] McCarney wants to turn the program around. I want to be a part of that.”
UNT was the first program to offer Medina (6-foot, 210 pounds) a scholarship, but Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane, McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin and Southeastern Louisiana were all showing interest.
“He’s very fast and very strong,” Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said.
Not to mention versatile.
Medina started off his senior season playing linebacker but moved to running back after his team lost its first four games. He went on to rush for 1,146 yards in seven games and was named the MVP of District 8-5A.
UNT will move Medina back to linebacker when he gets to campus and will play him at the same outside spot that Derek Akunne, who was Medina’s host, plays for the Mean Green.
“The coaches like how fast and vicious I am,” Medina said.
A chance meeting also led to UNT recruiting McKinney, who is 6-4, 355 pounds.
McKinney said that UNT offensive line coach Mike Simmonds came to practice to watch tackle Brandon Garrett, who later committed to Oklahoma State.
“Coach Simmonds called me a week and a half later,” McKinney said.
McKinney passed on offers from Central Arkansas, Grambling, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State and Southeastern Louisiana to play for UNT. He was a second-team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference selection.
“The atmosphere is family oriented at North Texas,” McKinney said. “Everyone does everything together.
“Coach McCarney said he’s going to turn the program around. I like his enthusiasm. I couldn’t be happier.”
McKinney could be a key piece of UNT’s plans to improve on a 4-8 finish last year.
UNT lost center Aaron Fortenberry, its only first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, to graduation.
Former Buda Hays standout Boone Feldt, who was one of UNT’s most highly regarded recruits in its 2012 class, was expected to fill Fortenberry’s spot. Feldt missed practice time in the fall with a series of lingering injuries from his high school career, which puts his status for next season in doubt.
UNT’s offensive line was arguably its best unit last season. The Mean Green is currently tied for first nationally with Air Force with six sacks allowed on the season.
UNT loses only two key players from that unit — Fortenberry and Coleman Feeley, who started six games at right tackle.
McKinney is hoping to become a key part of that unit next season, likely at center.
“The coaches told me they want me to fill that spot,” McKinney said. “They told me that they think Boone has a chance to be great. They just don’t think he’s ready yet.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is email@example.com .
UNT ORAL COMMITMENTS
The following is a list of players who have committed to become members of North Texas 2013 signing class:
Valor Christian (Colo.)
Fort Bend Elkins
Trinity Valley JC
Boutte (La.) Hahnville
Wichita Falls Rider
Fort Bend Austin
* Transfer currently enrolled at UNT