Nate Brooks video, season record picks update

UNT has closed up shop as far as media availability goes for the remainder of fall practice, which wraps up on Saturday.

That doesn’t mean the UNT content won’t keep coming here on the blog.

The video at the top of this post is of cornerback Nate Brooks talking about where UNT stands in the late stages of fall camp.

It’s up for debate as to who had the best fall camp among UNT players. Freshman quarterback Mason Fine is up there. So is JUCO transfer running back Anthony Wyche.

Brooks is also in that group.

Brooks had a few interesting things to say about where UNT stands heading into its season-opener at home against SMU on Sept. 3.

While we are at it, predictions are flooding in for our Get Your Rear on the Record contest to pick UNT’s record this year.

E-mail your guess to bvito@dentonrc.com, shoot me a message on Twitter or get me a guess any other way you can.

Here is what we have so far:

7-6 — Rick Harold

6-7 — John Lowe (eagle83)

6-6 — Ben Gooding, Kevin Cozart

5-7 — Tyler Maryak, Jeff Pergola (jperg2), Ryan Munthe

4-8 — Brett Vito, Jared Morris, Alec McKinley, Travis Miller, Tom Crothers (Eagle MBA), Scott Robertson, Brian Martin

3-9 — Jim Hull, Aldofo Flores Jr. (Got5onit), Travis Scott, Will Manley, Rick Ashwander, Paulie Walnuts

2-10 — Kellen Jemeyon, John Lee Moses, Bryan Graves (UNTGuy5), Patrick McMullen (Greenflag), Adam Rosenfield

0-12 — Jeff Andrews

Wednesday night football notes (Football preview magazine out tomorrow)

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year for the sports staff at the Denton Record-Chronicle.

It’s our Super Bowl, our finish line and the point at which we can all resume our regularly scheduled lives.

Yep, Football 2016, our annual preview magazine hits the streets.

This year’s edition is 108 pages, including 25 on UNT. The rest of it covers Denton city and regional high schools.

The magazine has been named one of the top 10 sports special sections for papers our size in the country for each of the last eight years by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

We take a lot of pride in it.

Be sure to pick one up.

And in other news,

– A couple of UNT Hall of Famers were at practice today. Brian Waters, who was one of the best offensive linemen of his generation, was around. Only the first 20 minutes of practice were open. I missed Waters, but I was told he has two kids attending UNT now.

Ken Bahnsen was also on hand. The legendary former UNT player and coach is one of my favorite people to watch practice with. He will sit there and point out all kinds of nuances about the game one might not notice.

In a cool side note, Bahnsen was one of the fans UNT coach Seth Littrell delivered tickets to at his ranch just outside town.

– The open portion of practice included some quarterback drills. Alec Morris and Mason Fine continue to run 1-2. I thought it was interesting that Littrell said that Fine is a cool customer who doesn’t get rattled.

MGB: Darius Turner has been cleared to join UNT

North Texas could be about set with its roster for the 2016 season after what transpired this afternoon.

Darius Turner, a cornerback from Arizona Western, has been cleared to practice, a UNT spokesman confirmed.

UNT also received word that Quinetin Jackson, a wide receiver from DuPage College, has been cleared earlier today. I will have more after practice. Check back

Breaking news — Quinetin Jackson has been cleared

College of DuPage wide receiver Quentin Jackson has been cleared to join the North Texas football program.  (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

College of DuPage wide receiver Quentin Jackson has been cleared to join the North Texas football program. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

College of DuPage wide receiver Quinetin Jackson has been cleared and will join North Texas in practice today, a school spokesman has confirmed.

Jackson committed to UNT back in June.

UNT expected Jackson to be a late-arriving player from the start.

The Illinois native, who is 6-3, 208, caught 28 passes for 655 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

“North Texas seemed like it was the best fit as far as the coaching staff and my quarterback is going there,” Jackson said when he committed. “The coaches want to use me as a go-to receiver, someone who can take the top off of a defense.”

UNT is moving to a spread offense under first-year coach Seth Littrell and has spent the last few months trying to bolster its wide receiver corps.

Jackson will give UNT another experienced wide receiver to add to that core.

 

It’s time for a MGB tradition: Get Your Rear on the Record

New North Texas coach Seth Littrell will face a huge challenge in his first season as the Mean Green's head coach. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

New North Texas coach Seth Littrell will face a huge challenge in his first season as the Mean Green’s head coach. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

College football season is just days away now, which brings with it a host of joys for North Texas fans. There’s tailgating with friends, going to games on cool fall afternoons, celebrating after wins.

And then where is the annual “Get Your Rear on the Record” picks contest here on the blog.

Those of you who have been around for the last few years know the drill.

Everyone has their thoughts on the season before it starts. A few crazy predictions are thrown around.

A few months later when the season has all played out no one remembers who said what.

We don’t forget here on the blog. We honor the people who are right in the end.

Here’s the drill. E-mail your picks to bvito@dentonrc.com. I will compile them like I do every year, publish updates on the blog every few days and then come up with a master list just before UNT opens the season against SMU.

We will revisit them at the end of the year.

All we ask is that people give us their names or handles on GoMeanGreen.com to attach to their pick.

So, how did last year go?

Here is our review from last year.

We didn’t have as many people send in picks last year for a couple of reasons. We asked for people to include their names, which chased a few people off. There was also a sense of impending doom among a portion of the fan base due to UNT having a ridiculous schedule with 12 straight games, including body-baggers at Iowa and Tennessee.

Part of the idea of this whole exercise is to get the general pulse of the UNT fan base. It was pretty optimistic despite the obstacles the Mean Green faced last year, largely due to the arrival of JUCO quarterback transfer DaMarcus Smith. The majority of people picked UNT to finish 6-6 or better.

Well, we know how that turned out.

UNT’s quarterback situation was a mess despite the arrival of Smith and the Mean Green’s defense was just as bad. UNT crashed to 1-11 and fired Dan McCarney in the middle of the year. Athletic director Rick Villarreal stepped down just a few months later.

No one saw that coming. The closest anyone came was Got5onit and Ed Whittemore, who both picked UNT to go 3-9.

We did have a couple of people who took home the Ridiculous Homer of the Year award, though. Brandon Daniels picked UNT to go 9-5, while Ben Gooding, James McAnallen and Ryan Alexander all picked UNT to finish 8-4.

And that brings us to this year.

The reason I picked today to begin our annual endeavor to ask our readers for their picks is because my pick is included in today’s Dallas Morning News preview of UNT’s season.

I settled on 4-8 and felt like a bit of a homer doing so.

Seth Littrell has done pretty much everything right since he showed up at UNT and has as good a shot as anyone of being successful at a program that has traditionally struggled. UNT resumed playing on what is now the FBS level in 1995 and has posted exactly four winning seasons since, including three during the Miracle Bowl Run from 2001-04 under Darrell Dickey, whose legacy is aging like a fine wine.

Littrell could be the next Tom Landry. It’s not Littrell that will be a problem this year. It’s the circumstances he stepped into.

At the end of last season, most of the UNT faithful were pretty realistic about the program’s prospects moving forward.

UNT allowed 41.2 points a game last season and endured a tough year offensively while averaging 15.2. The Mean Green are completely changing offensive and defensive systems and will have no more than 68 scholarship players, well below the limit of 85.

UNT is also all but certain to start a quarterback in Alec Morris, who spent the last four years sitting on Alabama’s bench. Safety Kishawn McClain was UNT’s lone preseason all-conference selection.

UNT’s schedule is also brutal with a game at Florida as well as games against the top three teams from Conference USA’s East Division — Middle Tennessee, Marshall and Western Kentucky.

There are a lot of national publications that are picking UNT to finish with one of two wins. Even the notoriously optimistic editors at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football picked UNT to finish 2-10. I wrote the preview, but the editors make the records picks.

UNT has finished with more than three wins four times in the 11 years since the end of its four-year run atop the Sun Belt that ended in 2004.

Most fan bases talk themselves into the fact that the upcoming season will be a successful one no matter the circumstances during the down months of the summer. I was affected by that optimism as well.

I’m going out on a limb and say that this will be one of those special years for UNT in which the Mean Green will win four games.

Wining four would be a huge step in the right direction for Littrell in his first season at UNT.

My rear is now on the record. Be sure to get your pick in over the next few days.

 

Tuesday night football notes

Littrell

Littrell

North Texas opened the first few minutes of practice to the media today and had players and coaches available afterward to talk.

There wasn’t anything terribly important that came out of the workout and no huge news tidbits came out of what I was able to pick up afterward, but there were a couple of items I wanted to mention.

UNT coach Seth Littrell made a couple of comments at media day that took me buy surprise.

At times can be tough to tell if a coach is saying something to say it, or if he is really telling you something.

I am starting to think Littrell was being up front and honest about two things:

1. Mason Fine could very well be this team’s backup quarterback.

2. Creighton Barr is going to see significant time at center.

Fine keeps seeing more and more time with UNT’s backups. He’s probably UNT’s best option, but playing him as a backup quarterback this year would burn his redshirt.

Littrell said he is comfortable playing Fine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Morris goes down at some point.

As far as UNT’s offensive line goes, Rice moved over to center in the spring. He has been working a lot at guard with Barr at center.

Rice has struggled with snapping in practice and is terrific at guard. Littrell indicated that he would play Barr at guard if he isn’t playing center.

UNT lined up today with Barr at center, Rice and Garrett Gunter at guard and Trey Keenan and Jordan Murray at tackle in the early stages of practice.

Tuesday afternoon notes — Catching up on all things UNT

New North Texas athletic director Wren Baker's parking sign is now up at the Mean Green Athletic Center.

New North Texas athletic director Wren Baker’s parking sign is now up at the Mean Green Athletic Center.

If it seems like we have been on hiatus on the blog here for the last week or so, it’s because we have been.The Denton Record-Chronicle’s annual football magazine hits the streets on Thursday.

It’s always a big push at the end to finish it. After a few near all-nighters, a whole lot of time holed up in the office designing the 108-page publication and one decent night’s sleep, we are ready to get back at it and talk a little about what has gone on in the last few days.

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit like Kathy Beth Terry (pop culture reference)

– First off, UNT has posted job openings in athletics for an Athletics Chief Operations Officer and an Athletics Chief Financial Officer. I had a chance to ask about those positions today. They are new positions. Baker is adding a couple of high level administrators to his staff.

– Baker has gotten started in the last few days and has been running from meeting to meeting while trying to get his feet on the ground.

– UNT’s best coach also reached a milestone in the last few days. Women’s soccer coach John Hedlund picked up his 300th win when UNT beat Incarnate Word 4-0 in its season-opener. The Mean Green won the Conference USA regular season title and conference tournament last year. Hedlund is the 20th coach to in college soccer to pick up 300 wins. He is now 301-115-26 after UNT moved to 2-0 with a win over Oral Roberts.

– And finally, I checked in to see if the UNT men’s basketball program had any hope left of adding Mike Thomas to its roster. Thomas was a high-level recruit in Louisiana, didn’t qualify and landed at Kilgore College. He signed with UNT, but didn’t qualify to join the Mean Green for the beginning of last school year. UNT expected him to join at the semester break. That didn’t happen. He didn’t join the Mean Green for the beginning of the school year either. He appears to be out of UNT’s plans completely. That’s not unexpected, but I wanted to follow through.

UNT media day notes, thoughts

Littrell

Littrell

North Texas held its annual media day at Apogee Stadium this morning.

UNT’s coaches and players were available and Seth Littrell conducted a little state of the union address. There were a few interesting tidbits of note …

It’s looking more and more like Mason Fine will be UNT’s backup quarterback

There was a point some time ago now when Littrell briefly commented on the fact that the optimum situation for a freshman quarterback is to redshirt and develop. More and more, it looks like that plan is out the window when it comes to Mason Fine

“Mason has had an unbelievable camp,” Littrell said. “I feel very confident in him. If he is the best guy – the best No. 2 – no we won’t redshirt him. It’s too long of a season. We have to make sure do everything we can to win football games. If he is the best guy, we won’t redshirt him.”

It seemed like a forgone conclusion once Alabama transfer Alec Morris arrived at UNT that he would start.

UNT brought in JUCO transfer Devin O’Hara, who looked like a perfect candidate to back up Morris while Fine developed.

It now appears like Fine could win the job.

UNT could line up a couple of different way along its offensive front

Sam Rice is UNT’s lone returning starter on its offensive line and will be the Mean Green’s rock up front. He moved from guard to center in the spring, but could play multiple positions this season.

Creighton Barr is UNT’s other center who has seen significant time in practice.

“A lot of it will depend on the style of defense we are playing if Sam or Creighton starts at center,” Littrell said.. “If one of them is at center, the other will be at guard.”

UNT is really coming together as a team

One big theme from media day was the way UNT’s players have come together as a team. The Mean Green have about 50 additions this year.

The more UNT’s players have worked together in practice, the better team chemistry has become. There is also a renewed sense of hope.

“It’s night and day compared to last year,” UNT wide receiver Terian Goree said. “I enjoy coming to practice and working with my brothers every day. I enjoyed it last year for the most part, but sometimes we didn’t want to be out here because we weren’t sure we could win.”

Saturday scrimmage notes, thoughts

North Texas conducted its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas conducted its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

Anthony Wyche, a running back from Los Angeles Valley College, continued to shine during North Texas’ second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

Wyche caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mason Fine and continued to work with UNT’s first- and second-team offense.

“Wyche had a great scrimmage brought some energy to our offense and made plays,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said.

UNT has its top running back in Jeffrey Wilson back and could have a solid one-two punch heading into the season.

North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell talks with his players before two-minute drills at the end of practice.

North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell talks with his players before two-minute drills at the end of practice.

Wyche is also returning punts and kickoffs.

I will have more on Wyche in tomorrow’s paper.

And in other news and notes …

– UNT’s defense came out of the gates well and dominated the early stages of practice before the Mean Green’s offense got rolling.

– Fine continued to draw the praise of Littrell. The freshman can really spin it and moved UNT’s offense. Alec Morris is clearly UNT’s starter and best option. What will be interesting to see is if UNT goes with JUCO transfer Devin O’Hara as its second-string quarterback to redshirt Fine. Littrell is on record saying he doesn’t want to play a freshman quarterback.

– UNT was without its regular deep-snapper Trey Enterline and saw its backups really struggle. UNT yanked Tim Ursery after he airmailed two over the punter’s head.

– Littrell said walk-on Spencer Edwards, a former Rockwall standout who was taken in the second round of the MLB draft, has elite speed and will play wide receiver.

– Tyler Wilson made a terrific catch on a ball from Morris.

– Freshman running back Nick Smith had a nice day..