Darren Denucci needed some time to find the right fit when it came time pick a college where he could continue his football career.
After backing out of a commitment from Nevada and spending a year away from the game, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive lineman feels like he found the right fit in UNT.
Denucci confirmed Friday afternoon that he committed to UNT this week after getting to know Mean Green head coach Dan McCarney and offensive line coach Mike Simmonds and pondering his options.
“I definitely found the right fit,” Denucci said. “Simmonds played in the NFL. He and McCarney are throwback guys. I want to coach and I feel like they can help me with their contacts. It felt right.”
Denucci has yet to visit UNT, but plans to get to Denton soon.
Denucci has three years of eligibility remaining and plans to complete his career at UNT after a long journey.
Denucci graduated from high school in 2009 and played in an all-star game with Jets quarterback Gino Smith and Zach Mettenberger, who was selected by the Tennessee Titans this year’s NFL draft. He planned on going to BYU after a two-year church mission, but decided to head to Snow College instead after the staff changed over at BYU.
Denucci committed to Nevada after a season at Snow, but backed out of that commitment late in the process and was left with few options because it was late in the recruiting season. He hoped to catch on with a school at the semester break and enroll as a mid-year transfer, but ended up sitting out an entire year, including last season.
Denucci wound up back on the market this spring and saw his recruiting quickly pick up. UAB, Southern Miss and La. Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State and UTSA all offered scholarships, while several other programs were showing interest, including some Big 12 and Pac-12 schools.
Denucci is 23 and is married. UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales, a former Snow assistant, and Simmonds recruited Denucci, who can play all three spots on the offensive line.
UNT’s coaches told Denucci that he could end up playing guard or tackle. UNT came out of spring practice seemingly set at center with Kaydon Kirby returning and also had guards Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo and tackle Antonio Johnson back. That left UNT with one spot in the starting lineup to fill and two candidates to move into the lineup in guard Shawn McKinney and backup tackle Ryan Rentfo. UNT tried Lemon at tackle in the spring, but hoped to move him back to guard, his best position, by the time it opens the season at Texas.
Denucci gives UNT another option to fill the void at right tackle created by LaChris Anyiam completing his career last year. Denucci played tackle at Snow College and said UNT’s coaches mentioned the possibility of him moving into the lineup at Anyiam’s spot. Putting Denucci at tackle would give UNT a chance to move Lemon back inside and allow McKinney to rotate in at guard. Rentfro and Denucci could then compete for the remaining starting spot at tackle.
See tomorrow’s paper for more on Denucci and the impact of his commitment.