Blinn College safety Bryce Linder didn’t have a clear picture of what North Texas had to offer as a school — or as a football program — just a few days ago.
That changed in a hurry during a whirlwind recruiting process over the last week and a half. Linder talked to UNT defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, visited the school on Friday, met cornerbacks coach Jarred Holley and committed to continue his career with the Mean Green a short time later.
“The coaching staff was awesome,” Linder said Saturday. “Coach Holley and coach Bennett are great guys. I liked their energy and feel like it will be a good fit. Coming to North Texas from JUCO will be a big step and something I will enjoy.
“The campus is beautiful. I didn’t realize how big North Texas is as a school. The facilities are amazing. It seems like a good place with good people.”
Linder is a mid-term transfer and will move in at UNT on Monday.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore finished with 34 tackles and three pass breakups last season at Blinn.
UNT was the only program that competes on the Football Bowl Subdivision level to offer Linder a scholarship.
The Mean Green recruited Linder to play the eagle spot in Bennett’s defense. Tyreke Davis filled that hybrid safety-linebacker role in his senior season last fall.
“We played the same kind of defense at Blinn,” Linder said. “I feel like I am a good fit for that position after playing it last year. It’s fun. You get to do a little of everything. You get to blitz and lock people in coverage.
“I’m a versatile player and feel like I can do it all. That is what I can bring to the team and help us win championships.”
Landing at UNT was the culmination of a long journey for Linder, who was an college prospect during his senior season at A&M Consolidated. Northwestern State offered Linder a scholarship, while Baylor, SMU and Houston all showed interest.
Linder’s opportunities diminished after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He still could have gone to Northwestern State but elected to continue his career at Blinn instead. The decision gave him an opportunity to chase an FBS scholarship again.
The move paid dividends after he spent a year and a half in junior college and caught the attention of UNT’s staff.
UNT was in the market for immediate help at safety after losing Davis as well as Makyle Sanders. The Mean Green had a JUCO safety in their class before Tyler Junior College product Kobe Savage backed out of his commitment to UNT and signed with Kansas State.
Once Linder got to know Bennett and learn about UNT’s program, he jumped at the chance to join its 2022 recruiting class and fill the Mean Green’s need for an immediate contributor at safety.
“Coach Bennett believing in me was big, so was the connection I felt with him and the rest of the coaching staff,” Linder said. “You want to feel happy and welcome. You also want coaches who will make you a better person and player. I will still have a lot of life after football. The coaches here are good with that part.”