Highland Park two-star linebacker Mitchell Kaufman decided to pull the trigger on committing to SMU after attending a fall practice today, becoming the thirteenth commit in SMU's 2015 class.
"I went to practice and I just felt really comfortable and I really like (defensive coordinator Tom Mason)," Kaufman said. "Coach Mason is a really good guy. I've always liked SMU and it just felt pretty good so I did it."
Being from just outside of campus and having seen a number of his high school teammates go to SMU played a factor in Kaufman's decision.
"It's right down the street so it's not far away and the guy who went there (from Highland Park) I really liked," Kaufman said. "It's cool and it definitely helps that there are three of them on this team."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kaufman struggled to narrow down the three things he liked most about SMU.
"That's a tough question. I really like coach Mason and coach (June) Jones. They have a very unique environment that I really liked. I liked the practice environment a lot," Kaufman said. "I like the schedule. They play some big-time schools and I have to opportunity to play against some big names. And then probably the campus and both my parents went there, I've been to game since I was walking. My whole house is SMU-ed out."
Kansas State, Baylor, Rutgers and a few Ivy League schools have shown interest in Kaufman despite last year being just his first year playing football. Kaufman says that throughout recruitment Mason has helped the rising-senior "become an experienced football player."
Mason was Kaufman's primary recruiter and knew he did not have to do much work to get the kid.
"I like to do my own thing and he knew I was really into SMU so he didn't think he had to recruit me that hard," Kaufman said. "I just contacted him every two weeks or so."
Kaufman said that Mason is excited about pairing him with SMU's two other linebacker commits, Michael and Delontae Scott.
"Coach Mason is really excited about our class. He thinks we're really good," Kaufman said. "I think they're big boys and they can help us"
The timing of the decision, just before two-a-days start at Highland Park, was no coincidence.
"That was the goal for me. Just to be going to school and know that everything is in order and that I could go into my year without thinking about it," Kaufman said. "We all want to win a state championship really bad. We came real close last year and we have a bad taste in our mouths so we're really looking for getting back there."