The success North Texas enjoyed last season was the initial reason Kelvin Smith decided to consider continuing his football career with the Mean Green.
The Houston Dekaney tight end said Wednesday that there was a whole lot more that led him to commit to play for the Mean Green this week, starting with the school’s academic program.
“North Texas won a bowl and is skyrocketing,” Smith said. “Then I came on a visit and the academics jumped out at me. The whole package is important to me.”
During his high school career, Smith showed that he is the whole package as well, earning All-District 13-5A honors last season while maintaining a 3.5 core grade-point average.
The 6-3, 235-pound senior was looking for a college where he could excel both as a player and a student and decided that UNT was the right fit after his recent visit to the school.
UNT posted the highest GPA among teams in Conference USA for the 2013 fall semester and went on to beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Smith is on the honor roll at Dekaney, serves as a student ambassador and recently applied to become a member of the National Honor Society.
He plans to major in electrical engineering at UNT.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits in the class of 2015 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 4.
UNT defensive line coach Kevin Patrick recruited Smith, who said he chose to play for the Mean Green over an offer from New Mexico.
UTEP and Rice also had shown interest in Smith, who attended UNT’s satellite camp in Deer Park over the summer. UNT offered Smith a scholarship a week later.
UNT’s coaches spotted Smith before his senior year and saw that he could be a perfect fit for the Mean Green’s offense as a tight end and H-back.
UNT uses tight ends extensively, both in the passing game and to power its power running game. Drew Miller and Daniel Prior both filled that role as seniors last season, when Miller caught 17 passes for 191 yards — totals that ranked fourth among UNT receivers.
Marcus Smith emerged from spring practice atop UNT’s depth chart at tight end and will be a junior this fall.
Senior Tanner Smith and junior Cooper Jones are listed as Marcus Smith’s backups.
Kelvin Smith caught just three passes during his junior year at Dekaney, but showed his prowess as a blocker while helping Demarcus Felton rush for 1,783 yards. Felton went on to sign with Texas Tech.
“It really jumped out that North Texas uses tight ends,” Smith said. “I really like to block, but I can also catch the ball.”
Location also played a factor in Smith’s decision to choose UNT over New Mexico.
“I will only be four hours away,” Smith said. “My family can come and see me play.”