North Texas coach Seth Littrell vowed to make tight ends a bigger part of the Mean Green’s offense since the end of last season.
Reaching that goal should be a whole lot easier down the line after Var’Keyes Gumms committed to UNT on Thursday night.
The Houston Dekaney standout is ranked as one of the top tight ends in the country and one of the elite players in Texas.
Gumms announced his decision on Twitter and spoke about it a short time later.
“North Texas showed a lot of love to me,” Gumms said. “I have been hearing my whole life to go where they want you. I felt like North Texas really wanted me. They have good coaches and are going to be good this year. Why not?”
UNT offered Gumms in June and won a head-to-head battle with Houston for his commitment.
UNT tight ends coach Adrian Mayes recruited Gumms, who is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds.
“I like coach Mayes,” Gumms said. “I talked to Kelvin Smith, who played tight end for them. He said coach Mayes is excellent. He’s a good dude from what I saw and heard from him.”
Sports Illustrated included Gumms on its list of All-American candidates this summer.
“Gumms has a very high ceiling,” SI wrote in its evaluation. “Already with the big frame and soft hands, he has a good starting point. He isn’t afraid of contact and can use his frame to his advantage. With a few tweaks and some development, Gumms could be a really impactful collegiate tight end who makes the difference in games.”
Gumms is the highest-rated player in UNT’s class in 247’s rankings. He suffered a foot injury last season that limited him but was an all-district selection as a sophomore.
Littrell coached tight ends in each of his last three stops as an assistant coach before taking over at UNT. He coached Rob Gronkowski at Arizona and also coached tight ends at Indiana and North Carolina. Gronkowski is a three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time All-Pro and one of the greatest tight ends in pro football history.
“That was big reason I went there,” Gumms said. “Coach Littrell goes hard for his tight ends. Most schools use their tight ends as another offensive lineman. UNT uses them for everything and gets them involved.”
UNT senior tight end Jason Pirtle caught five touchdown passes last season, when he ranked fifth on the team with 263 receiving yards. Smith also played a key role at tight end last year.
Pirtle caught one pass for 27 yards in UNT’s season-opening win over Houston Baptist.
Littrell has spoken highly of Asher Alberding, a redshirt freshman who serves as Pirtle’s backup.
Gumms joined the list of elite tight ends UNT has in the pipeline and became the 12th player to join the Mean Green’s recruiting class.
UNT has the third-rated class in Conference USA in 247Sports’ rankings following the addition of Gumms.