Ashton Preston felt good about the situation at North Texas from the moment he started considering signing with the Mean Green months ago.
The Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe cornerback has been friends with UNT linebacker Calvin Minor for years and often spends time at an aunt’s house that is just 20 minutes from Apogee Stadium.
A visit to UNT two weeks ago and a conversation with new cornerbacks coach LaMarcus Hicks were the final factors that led Preston to commit to the Mean Green. Preston, who is 5-11 and 180 pounds, called UNT’s coaches late Wednesday to make his decision official.
“The atmosphere and interacting with coach Hicks set the bar,” Preston said. “He’s a guy I can see myself playing for. He has played at the highest level, is a young coach and someone I can relate to.”
Hicks played for UNT coach Dan McCarney at Iowa State before going on to play for the Detroit Lions.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits in the class of 2015 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 4.
Preston is rated as a three-star recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings, an average of the rankings across college recruiting websites that evaluate players.
Preston started as a junior last season, when he intercepted a pass and broke up eight more.
UNT tight ends coach Nick Quartaro recruited Preston, who attended the Mean Green’s satellite camp in Arlington.
UNT offered Preston a scholarship at the camp after he met with Hicks and Perry Carter, the secondary coaches who joined the Mean Green staff earlier this year.
Preston’s family encouraged him to consider his UNT offer and other options before making a final decision, especially with Louisville and Kansas showing interest. The more Preston thought about his opportunity at UNT and talked it over with his family, he said, the more he felt like it was the right fit.
UNT still was the only school to offer Preston a scholarship when he committed to play for the Mean Green. The decision will land Preston on the same team with Minor, a sophomore linebacker he met through a cousin who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, at a school where he felt like he belonged.
“UNT wanted me and I wanted them,” Preston said. “With Calvin there I will know someone, and my aunt only lives 20 minutes away.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.