Nate Brooks grew up playing football with his cousin Tee Goree in Carthage, throwing the ball around in their yards.
For a while it appeared as if they were destined to play together through their high school careers.
That opportunity to team up will come on the college level instead.
Brooks, a defensive back from Whitehouse, committed to North Texas on Monday and eventually will become teammates with Goree, who signed with the Mean Green in February.
Goree is expected to play a significant role as a freshman wide receiver for UNT this fall.
“I like the fact that I have family going there. I won’t be alone,” Brooks said. “We are somewhat close and have been playing ball together since we were little. He has told me that the coaches want me to come there.”
Brooks and Goree parted ways in terms of their youth careers when Brooks moved from Carthage to Whitehouse. The two remained friends despite playing for different high schools and decided to reunite in Denton in 2015 after Brooks plays his senior season at Whitehouse.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. National signing day is Feb. 4.
Brooks, who is 6 feet tall and 160 pounds, was a first-team All-District 16-4A selection at safety last season, when he intercepted four passes.
Brooks was recruited by running backs coach and special teams coordinator Tommy Perry, who picked up his recruitment in the last few weeks. Former UNT cornerbacks coach Ryan Walters and safeties coach Noah Joseph laid the groundwork in the Mean Green’s pursuit of Brooks before leaving for jobs at Memphis and Indiana, respectively.
Brooks quickly developed a relationship with UNT’s new secondary coaches and wanted to visit the school again with his mother, Romia Latin, to ensure that she is as comfortable with the situation at the school as he is.
“I feel like the coaches are good, and it’s close to home,” Brooks said of UNT. “I can get playing time right away.”
Brooks said his mother felt good about him continuing his career at UNT following their visit.
“It went pretty well,” Brooks said. “My mom approved. I feel good about it. The coaches treated me well and made me feel wanted.”
Brooks’ recruitment came down to a head-to-head battle between UNT and Conference USA rival Louisiana Tech, which also offered him a scholarship.
The question for Brooks now is where he will play in UNT’s defense. While he played safety last season, he projects as a cornerback because of his size.
“[UNT’s coaches] said if I put on weight I could play safety,” Brooks said. “I am going there as a cornerback right now.”
Brooks will carry on a budding family tradition in the process.
“Tee commented on my Facebook page,” Brooks said. “He seemed pretty excited.”
Brooks is the third player to commit to sign with UNT and the second this week. UNT picked up a commitment from Canton defensive end Sam Miller on Monday.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.