Carthage coach Scott Suratt fielded phone calls from coaches across the country wanting to talk about Tee Goree over the last few months.
The wide receiver caught the eye of recruiting coordinators and assistant coaches from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 who put scholarship offers on the table.
Goree is set to pass on all those opportunities today, when he is expected to sign with North Texas.
“There is no question that he is a steal for North Texas,” Surratt said. “He’s the kind of kid who can make a difference. His upside is higher than anyone I have coached because he is still so young at 17. He will run [the 40-yard dash] in the 4.5s and will [weigh] about 190 pounds.”
Goree is one of the headliners of what is expected to be a smaller UNT signing class full of top-end prospects. UNT coach Dan McCarney will announce the class during a 2 p.m. press conference today at Apogee Stadium.
Goree is No. 96 on Rivals.com’s list of the top 100 prospects in the state, while Longview Pine Tree quarterback/athlete Caleb Chumley checks in at No. 120 on 247Sports’ Texas list.
Chumley is expected to delay enrolling at UNT until the Christmas break, a practice known as gray-shirting.
Moore Southmoore wide receiver Jalen Adams is No. 30 on 247Sports’ list of the top prospects in Oklahoma.
Dallas South Oak Cliff wide receiver Fonzale Davis and Mansfield Timberview linebacker Brandon Garner are Nos. 82 and 86, respectively, on The Dallas Morning News list of the best prospects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Garner backed out of a commitment to Purdue to sign with the Mean Green.
Those top players were attracted by what UNT has to offer with Apogee Stadium and a highly respected staff led by McCarney and a host of veteran assistants.
“I went up there on a visit and enjoyed it,” Goree said after committing to UNT. “I liked the way everything ran smooth.”
Goree was just one of the top prospects set to sign with UNT who felt a connection with the Mean Green’s staff.
“I just felt like Purdue wasn’t the right place for me,” Garner said when he committed to UNT. “I didn’t necessarily feel wanted there. I felt like I was wanted at North Texas. The coaching staff treated me well and showed me that they wanted me.”
Garner and Goree were far from the only players who received interest from major-conference schools and regional rivals.
Adams also was a highly sought-after prospect.
“Early on he had a bunch of offers from FBS schools,” Southmoore coach Jeff Brickman said. “Indiana and Tulsa come to mind. He wasn’t really responsive to them early; he was holding out for Oklahoma. The bigger schools went other directions, and the other schools got other guys.”
UNT capitalized by landing Adams, who will be a key piece of what is expected to be a talented but small class.
UNT placed a host of former walk-ons on scholarship and added a few transfers to the roster during McCarney’s tenure. Some of those players will count toward UNT’s limit of 25 in the class it will sign today, cutting into the number of players the Mean Green will sign.
Anthony Wallace, a former Dallas Skyline linebacker who began his career at Oregon before transferring to UNT, will count in the Mean Green’s 2014 class.
While UNT will have a smaller class, it’s a group that could address several of its most pressing needs.
Wallace is expected to compete to take over at middle linebacker for All-Conference USA selection Zach Orr. Josh Greer, a quarterback who began his career at UAB before playing last season at Navarro College, will compete to take over for Derek Thompson.
Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns and was named the MVP of the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The Mean Green has a few other glaring needs at its offensive skill positions after losing its top two receivers in Brelan Chancellor at Darnell Smith to graduation. UNT also lost senior running back Brandin Byrd, although the Mean Green has several experienced backs returning.
UNT is bringing in a group of players who could help fill the void and will arrive with impressive credentials, including Sulphur Springs running back Willy Ivery, an undersized back at 5-8 and 181 pounds who earned second-team all-state honors as a senior.
“The Big 12 and SEC guys were concerned about his height for a receiver and size for a running back,” Sulphur Springs coach Greg Owens said. “He is a unique and special player. He is so dynamic. I have no hang-up with him because of his size.”
UNT could be getting something special in a smaller package with Ivery. The same could be said of a class that the Mean Green expects to sign today that won’t be all that big in terms of numbers but could pack a punch in terms of the quality of the players in it.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.