SMU has offered Class of 2015 players from Maryland to California, but the Mustangs reached into their own backyard to offer linebacker Mitchell Kaufman (University Park, TX/Highland Park HS) on May 14. The offer is his first from an FBS team.
"I went to junior day a couple months ago, I went to camp this past summer, and had a good junior year," Kaufman said. "(SMU) didn't talk much to me before; they showed up to practice and they had an offer (for me)."
The offer came from defensive coordinator Tom Mason. Kaufman said he visited an SMU spring practice and talked with Mason, but hadn't otherwise talked with him before getting the offer.
Kaufman's path to receiving the offer is one traveled by few: he received the offer after playing football for just one season.
"(Junior year) was actually my first year of football. They pulled me out of basketball for it. It was all getting to learn, learning every week, feeling more comfortable every week."
Kaufman's transition from the hardwood to the gridiron has been smooth, and he credits his coaches.
"I've had great coaches, great support. It has been all fun."
While Kaufman had a productive first season, he thinks he still has a lot of room to grow before his senior season starts.
"I'm working my football skills, I'm learning all the time. I'm trying to increase my athleticism, obviously getting stronger and more built for football. I'm putting in the work my coaches need me to do and my team needs me to do. It's all about my team right now."
Spring practice recently concluded for Highland Park, and Kaufman said the spring gave him a great start to accomplishing his goals.
"We lost a lot of defensive coaches, so that was tough. I got to be more of a leader and a captain, and got to play a bigger role, and I like that."
Highland Park lost to Guyer (Denton, TX) in the Class 4A state semifinal, but Kaufman said the Scots should have a strong team next year.
"We're feeling good about this year and we think we've got a good shot."
An SMU offer means more to Kaufman than any other recruit, since he has strong family ties to the university.
"I was really excited, both my parents went there, I've been to almost every game for the past couple years. I'm a fan, it was really exciting, really cool, and I can't think of a better place to go to school."
Kaufman is optimistic about the future of SMU football as well.
"I think it's good, I think it's growing too. I think the American Conference is pretty strong, and I think (SMU is) going to keep getting better and eventually be really good."
Kaufman said that his family ties to SMU and its proximity to his home will be a factor in his decision process.
"I'm a homebody. I know the area, so I think that's a good for me."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker has offers from some smaller FCS schools, and has talked with a few other FBS schools, including Baylor, Texas, and Cal. He says that he is keeping his options open, but he does like SMU a little more than the others.
"SMU's probably the front-runner right now. I probably won't keep coach Mason waiting too long; it will probably be early summer to midsummer when I make my decision."