Football: Ryan DT Dayton LeBlanc commits to North Texas

Ryan junior defensive tackle Dayton LeBlanc (56) tackles Denton senior running back/defensive back Caleb Osuofa (2), Friday, September 23, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Ryan junior defensive tackle Dayton LeBlanc (56) tackles Denton senior running back/defensive back Caleb Osuofa (2), Friday, September 23, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Dayton LeBlanc won’t be gone from Denton for long.

The junior defensive tackle has verbally committed to North Texas. He played for Ryan this past season but is expected to leave in March now that his father, Derrick LeBlanc, has left UNT to be the new defensive line coach at Kentucky.

Dayton LeBlanc is the first Mean Green commit from the Class of 2018.

“I have teammates who are going there, of course, and I still talk with the defensive linemen that my dad coached,” LeBlanc said. “It’s meant to be.”

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day LeBlanc would be able to sign an official letter of intent is Feb. 7, 2018.

LeBlanc moved from Mississippi before the start of last season and immediately became a starter at tackle for a Ryan defensive unit already rich in talent. He finished the year with 77 tackles (17 for loss), three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He returned two for touchdowns.

LeBlanc would have been the only defensive lineman returning for 2017, and he said he was looking forward to competing for a state title with the Raiders, who finished 14-1 in 2016 and lost in a Class 5A Division I state semifinal.

That quickly changed earlier this month. Derrick LeBlanc was one of four North Texas assistants to leave the program for other opportunities. He spent one year with UNT and already has assumed the same role with the Wildcats.

Dayton LeBlanc said his family is expected to move to Kentucky on March 11. He said he will attend Henry Clay High School in Lexington for the remainder of his junior year, then transfer to the forthcoming Frederick Douglass High School for his senior year. That school is expected to be open for the 2017-2018 school year.

“I am, of course, going to miss everyone here. But I am at peace with it,” LeBlanc said. “I’m excited for this new opportunity [at North Texas]. I plan to redshirt my freshman year so I can be the best possible player I can be.

“I’ll play offense or defense. Whatever it takes.”

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

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