Sam Rice, a former Coppell standout who spent the first two years of his college career at SMU and started six games for the Mustangs last season, has left the school and enrolled at North Texas.
A source close to the situation confirmed on Sunday that Rice is now on UNT’s roster.
Rice started the first five games of the 2013 season at left guard for the Mustangs and started six games overall.
Rice will have to sit out the 2014 season as a transfer. He played two seasons at SMU and is expected to have two years of eligibility remaining at UNT beginning in the 2015 season.
UNT’s starting guards Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo will be seniors this fall and have been cornerstones of an offensive front that has been one of the Mean Green’s strengths. Lemon was a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2013, while Y’Barbo was a second-team pick.
UNT tied with Fresno State for seventh nationally in sacks allowed last season with an average of 0.85 a game.
Rice could potentially step into one of the open guard spots on UNT’s line after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer. Rice played as a freshman at SMU in 2012 and did not redshirt, which allows him to sit out the 2014 season without losing one of his last two years of eligibility.
UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales recruited Rice during his senior season at Coppell, where he earned first-team All-District 7-5A honors that year. The league was one of the toughest in the state in 2012, when it included both Guyer and Southlake Carroll.
Rice initially committed to UNT but eventually backed out of that pledge to sign with SMU, where his father, Doug Rice, lettered for the Mustangs from 1984-86.
UNT has taken on several transfers who have gone on to make a significant impact during the tenure of head coach Dan McCarney, who took over as the Mean Green’s head coach before the 2011 season.
Running back Reggie Pegram transferred to UNT from Purdue and rushed for 338 yards and six touchdowns in his first season playing for the Mean Green last fall.
Safety Marcus Trice earned first-team All-C-USA honors in his senior season in 2013, his second playing for UNT after transferring from Oklahoma.
Both played key roles in leading UNT to a 9-4 finish and a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.