Caleb Colvin dropped off the radar somewhat as a prospect over the past few months because of a torn labrum in his shoulder that caused him to miss his sophomore season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
North Texas was one of a handful of schools that continued to show interest in the defensive lineman and landed a commitment from the Oklahoma native on Monday. Colvin, who is 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, announced his decision to sign with the Mean Green on his Twitter account.
“I like the direction the program is going and felt like I could fit in,” Colvin said. “[UNT defensive line coach Marc] Yellock made me feel at home. It’s a place I feel like I can grow.”
Colvin is the latest player to commit to UNT over the course of a busy few days.
UNT also picked up a commitment from Beaumont West Brook wide receiver Deonte’ Simpson over the weekend. Simpson joined his teammate Damon Ward, another West Brook wide receiver, in UNT’s class.
The addition of Simpson wasn’t much of a surprise.
UNT adding Colvin to bolster its defensive line this fall is a different story.
Colvin finished with 32 tackles and three sacks as a freshman at NEO in 2016 before taking a year off to rehabilitate his shoulder. UNT, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina and Charlotte all offered Colvin a scholarship despite the time he spent away from the game.
Colvin settled on UNT, where he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He has the ability to play defensive tackle and defensive end in the Mean Green’s 3-3-5 system and could bolster a unit that lost three key defensive ends after last season.
“I am 100 percent right now,” Colvin said. “I feel like I can help this team.”
Colvin is looking forward to that opportunity after suffering two major injuries in the last few years. He tore the ACL in one of his knees and missed his senior season at Owasso High School.
“It’s a blessing,” Colvin said. “I’m grateful that North Texas is taking a chance on me.”
Simpson also cited the comfort level he found at UNT as a factor in his decision to play for the Mean Green and reunite with Ward.
Verbal commitments are non-binding. The early signing period begins Dec. 19, and national signing day is Feb. 6.
“I picked North Texas because it felt at home when I took my visit,” Simpson said. “I had great interactions with the coaches. They made me feel welcome. I could envision myself being a student-athlete there.”
Simpson, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds, had plenty of options when it came to picking a college destination. He carries a 3.2 GPA and had scholarship offers from 12 schools ranging from regional programs to nationally elite academic institutions and service academies.
Tulane, Tulsa, Yale, Cornell and Air Force all were in contention to land Simpson, who wants to major in mechanical or chemical engineering.
“It’s a big challenge,” Simpson said of excelling in the classroom and on the field. “I put a lot of effort into it. That is important to my family.”
The opportunities UNT offers on and off the field were one of several factors that led Simpson to commit. Playing with Ward for another four seasons was an added bonus.
“It was a factor that I’m going up there with a friend,” Simpson said. “He will have my back and will push me. We are close. We have know each other five or six years and played in little league together.”
UNT offensive line coach Chuck Langston recruited Simpson, who was a first-team All-District 12-6A selection last season. The Beaumont Enterprise included Simpson on its list of the top 40 recruits in Southeast Texas.
Simpson said UNT’s coaches project him to play in the slot, but he could move to the outside, depending on the way he develops. He will join a team that has improved dramatically offensively under Seth Littrell.
The Mean Green averaged 35.5 points per game last season on their way to the New Orleans Bowl, their second straight postseason appearance. UNT finished 9-5.
“Coach Littrell has really changed that program,” Simpsons said. “I feel like he will help me develop. I will have a chance to get the ball and show what I can do.”
The fact UNT is close to home also was a factor in his decision.
“I can go visit my family,” Simpson said. “It was just home when I came up there. Nowhere else compared.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.