Kishawn McClain does a little bit of everything for Rosenberg Terry, from playing quarterback to chasing receivers as a safety in the Rangers’ secondary.
That varied skill set attracted the attention of the coaches at North Texas who wondered just how good McClain could become if he was able to focus on one task — becoming a top-notch safety at the college level.
McClain decided to accept that challenge and committed to UNT on Thursday night, when the Mean Green picked up commitments from a pair of Texas high school standouts for its 2014 recruiting class. Mesquite linebacker Jalen Montgomery also has committed to UNT.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits in the class of 2014 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 5.
McClain and Montgomery participated in UNT’s Talon Talent camp for top prospects July 25 and spent time with Mean Green safety Marcus Trice, who played a role in the school landing both players. Trice is a former Mesquite standout, giving him a connection with Montgomery.
UNT projects McClain to play the same position as Trice, who sat down with one of the Mean Green’s top defensive back targets to talk about how he would fit into the team’s defensive scheme.
The time Trice spent with McClain helped him become comfortable with the idea of playing for UNT.
“When I went to visit, it was a home environment,” McClain said. “It will be like a home away from home. The coaches and the players made me feel comfortable. I talked to Trice about playing safety. I came home and talked to my family about it.”
McClain, 5-11 and 193 pounds, decided following in Trice’s footsteps was his best option and committed a short time later. He now will focus on building on a standout junior season that saw him earn first-team All-District 23-4A honors at quarterback. McClain rushed for 931 yards and threw for 647 last season.
Texas State also offered McClain a scholarship. UNT safeties coach and recruiting coordinator Noah Joseph recruited McClain.
While McClain made his mark as a quarterback last season, he feels comfortable playing safety and is excited about the opportunity he will have for early playing time at UNT.
“It will work out with Marcus graduating,” McClain said. “The coaches told me they don’t really have anyone to come in and take that spot. They sat down with me and showed me what I will be doing. I feel good about it.”
Montgomery also named his experience at UNT’s Talon Talent camp as a reason he committed to play for the Mean Green. The camp gave Montgomery an opportunity to work with UNT defensive coordinator John Skladany, who also coaches UNT’s linebackers.
“I like coach Skladany,” Montgomery said. “When we were at camp, I saw that he coaches his players hard. I like his enthusiasm and the 4-3 defense that they run. I am going to play either the ‘Will’ or ‘Sam’ [outside linebacker spots].”
Montgomery, 5-11 and 220 pounds, was a first-team All-District 12-5A selection last season and attracted the attention of several college programs due to his ability as a player and prowess as a student. Ivy League schools Harvard, Cornell and Yale, as well as Sam Houston State, offered Montgomery scholarships.
Montgomery said he seriously considered playing for an Ivy League school but decided UNT was the best fit.
Offensive line coach Mike Simmonds recruited Montgomery.
“North Texas plays nationally prominent teams like Georgia this year and is going to be on TV a lot,” Montgomery said. “There are a lot of factors that led me to commit to UNT.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.
NORTH TEXAS COMMITMENTS
The following is a list of players who have orally committed to sign with UNT in 2014:
Dallas South Oak Cliff
Edmond (Okla.) North