MGB video: Mike Grant talks about UNT strategy following Friday Night Lights

UNT hosted its annual Friday Night Lights camp last night.

The event is a big part of UNT’s push to put together a solid recruiting class, but what is the Mean Green’s approach overall?

I talked with UNT recruiting coordinator Mike Grant after more than 500 players ran through drills and worked with the Mean Green’s coaching staff at Apogee Stadium.

Plan Powder is a term I brought up a few weeks ago when describing what UNT is trying to do. The idea is that UNT is not going to go out and grab a host of marginal prospects early.

UNT has time and wants to fully evaluate the players out there. Waiting also gives those players time to evaluate if UNT is the right fit.

The hope is that when a player commits, he will do so with a full understanding of what UNT has to offer and how he fits with the program. That way a player is more likely to stick with his decision to commit to UNT.

Being patient also ensures that UNT will have scholarships available when it gets closer to signing day. There are plenty of top players who see their options dry up late in the process as other schools’ classes fill up.

UNT should be able to snap some of those top players up and have spots available for the better DFW prospects who decide late that saying close to home is their best option.

Be sure to check out what Grant had to say and some highlights of last night’s camp.

Friday Night Lights wrap-up

UNT staged its annual Friday Night Lights camp tonight. More than 500 players participated in what Dan McCarney called a highly successful event over at Apogee Stadium and the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility.

Here is the story that will be in tomorrow’s paper.

I have a video that includes what I think is a pretty insightful interview with recruiting coordinator Mike Grant that should be ready sometime in the next day or so. We talk a little about the thinking behind Plan Powder and why Friday Night Lights is so popular with high school players in the area.

Until then, a couple of tidbits, some of which we mention in the paper tomorrow.

– UNT hasn’t offered yet, but it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Mean Green are going to make a run at Skyline tackle Joe Wallace, the younger brother of Anthony Wallace. There are more than a dozen teams that have offered, including Power 5 schools like Texas Tech and Washington. One factor that could play in UNT’s favor is that Anthony Wallace went to Oregon and ended up coming home. Watching his brother go through that experience might give his brother pause.

– Waxahachie quarterback Jordan Kitna, the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, participated in the camp. Flower Mound defensive back Chandler Claterbaugh and Garland lineman Hakeem Adeniji were at the camp. I talked to Adeniji and his mother. UNT appears to be in a good spot with him.

– There were a few other prospects of note UNT is recruiting who I will mention in the next few days.

Stay tuned.

Friday Night Lights running blog

It’s Friday night and time for one of the unique events of the calendar year for the UNT football program — Friday Night Lights.

UNT puts on a camp once a year late in the summer for its top prospects and any high school player who wants to participate. Dan McCarney and his staff do a terrific job with the event every year.

This time around there are more than 500 players at Apogee, including some top prospects.

I will update the blog all night with information on prospects and what is going on in general.

I have already talked to one prospect with an offer. Be sure to check back for more.

Update 6:51 — One of the dozen or so prospects at tonight’s camp with a UNT scholarship offer is Garland lineman Hakeem Adeniji. He is not participating, but is pretty easy to pick out due to his size. Here are his Hudl highlights. Stephen. F. Austin, New Mexico, Kansas, Air Force, Navy and Illinois State. Adeniji named the coaching staff and the environment at UNT as reasons he is interested in the program.

Update 6:57 — One bit of news I haven’t mentioned is that longtime UNT graduate assistant coach Chris Clevenger has joined the staff at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College. Clevenger worked at UNT for several years. He helped coach UNT’s kickers, among other duties. Nic Summerfield, a former UNT player who has paid his dues and then some as an intern, is now a graduate assistant coach.

Update 7:00 — One prospect here tonight with a familiar name is Jordan Kitna, the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna. He is a two-star quarterback prospect, according to 247 Sports.

Update 7:25 — The players at tonight’s camp have split out into position groups for drills. Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP and current Denton High coach Derek Thompson is working with the quarterbacks tonight. There are a number of current UNT players on hand as well. Jordan Murray is here, as is Kevin Dillman. He has really bulked up as he makes the transition to playing tight end in college. I told Dillman, “Man, you’re looking like a tight end.” As he walked by. His answer? “I’m tryin’”. Dillman seems like a great guy. I have a feeling he will be an impact player for UNT down the line.

8:00 — There are several top prospects out at UNT’s camp tonight. Here are a few with their recruiting profile links: Khalil Banks, a running back from The Colony; Jordan Kitna, a quarterback from Waxahachie; Tevan McAdams, a defensive end from Guyer; Terrense Lott, a cornerback from Round Rock Stony Point; Chandler Claterbaugh, a safety from Flower Mound

8:35 — UNT’s camp is winding down. The players are filing back into Apogee. There were a few more UNT players who wandered in during camp, including Ashton Preston. UNT wrapped up skill position work with seven-on-seven drills. There were a few great catches made. UNT sometimes has a few races at the end of camp. We will see how UNT wraps this up.

Friday afternoon notes on football roster, UTEP hoops

I will be heading out to Friday Night Lights, UNT’s annual camp to cap the summer, here in a bit. There will be a host of prospects on hand, plus a ton of high school players just looking to tap into the knowledge of UNT’s staff in advance of their seasons.

Quick point here, Dan McCarney pointed out to us on numerous occasions over the last few weeks that UNT is waiting on one of its signees to qualify. He doesn’t want to say who, but he did tell me last week that UNT has a Plan B in place.

Well, now we know who Plan B is. Chris Morgan, a safety out of Los Angeles Valley College, is apparently the guy.

C.J. Clayborne, the Monarchs linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, jumped on GoMeanGreen.com  to post that key piece of information for UNT’s fans to see. I have no reason to think that it’s not legit info.

UNT went down this same road last year with late signee Matthew Dash out of Los Angeles Pierce. Dash played a little last season, but has not made a significant impact.

The unfortunate byproduct of the whole situation is that we are now well into the guessing game of who is the player in danger of not qualifying?

Hopefully, it all becomes a moot point, but we should find out next week.

And while basketball is the last sport on anyone’s mind at UNT these days, it is worth noting that there is some pretty big news lingering out there in Conference USA.

It looks like Omega Harris, one of UTEP’s really good young players, might not be eligible. Matt Wilms could also be out for the year due to injury.

UTEP is flat loaded, but that could knock the Miners down a peg heading into next season.

Friday Night Lights tonight, et cetera

North Texas will host its annual Friday Night Lights camp tonight at Apogee Stadium. (DRC file photo)

North Texas will host its annual Friday Night Lights camp tonight at Apogee Stadium. (DRC file photo)

UNT will hold its annual Friday Night Lights camp tonight over at Apogee Stadium. UNT came up with the concept right after Dan McCarney arrived and has enjoyed a great deal of success with it.

There are usually well over a hundred players who participate. Those players range from high school athletes just looking to learn a few tricks heading into the season to major college prospects trying to decide where they will continue their careers.

K.J. Powers falls into another category and was the subject of our preview in the paper today.

Powers is one of hundreds of players across the country this time of year who are pretty sure they are going to play college football. It’s just a matter of whether they can made a big enough impression at a summer camp to land an FBS offer.

The Oklahoma DB is sitting on a couple of small school offers, but dreams of playing on the major college level. Powers is from Cache, a small town near Lawton.

UNT is interested, but it sounds like he needs to show he can compete against the players from bigger schools to earn a scholarship offer.

Powers’ chance will come tonight, like it will for several other players. UNT had several prospects participate in Friday Night Lights and then end up signing with the Mean Green.

There is still a lingering notion out there that recruiting isn’t going well for UNT. Don’t believe it, at least not yet.

UNT is playing this smart. There are offers out there for several really good prospects. If they get to the point that they are ready to commit, they will.

The last thing UNT needs to do is go out there and grab a bunch of marginal players early.

UNT isn’t playing the recruiting game from a position of power at the moment. This team isn’t riding the excitement of a bowl win or having a new coach in place. Last season was a tough one.

There are more than enough good players to go around and spots are drying up. SMU has 22 kids committed, Houston 16, Louisiana Tech 13 and Rice 11.

It’s not who you take early. It’s who you end up with in the end.

North Texas is working on several upgrades to its Olympic sports venue this summer, including a new restroom facility.

North Texas is working on several upgrades to its Olympic sports venue this summer, including a new restroom facility. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Al Key)

And in other news, I wrote about the renovations that are taking place over at UNT’s Olympic sports complex this week.

It’s not the most exciting subject out there.

Hey. UNT is getting a new commode!!

With that being said, it is a pretty important upgrade ahead of next season’s Conference USA softball tournament that UNT will host.

UNT will also improve the batting cages, the bullpen and recover the outfield wall, in addition to doing some other work on Lovelace Stadium.

The school will also work on the soccer field as well. A new scoreboard will be added sometime in the near future, although it might not be in place for this season.

John Hedlund’s soccer team is the best and most consistent program on campus — and it’s not really even close. Any time UNT can invest in that program it’s a good idea.

UNT soccer fans will also be able to use the new bathrooms at home games.

Coaches Top 25 out, et cetera

McCarney

McCarney

One of the key points of the preseason in college football arrived today with the release of the Amway Coaches Top 25 Poll.

There are a few interesting points when it comes to a UNT perspective when it comes to the poll — and yes, Dan McCarney is a voter.

First off, one of UNT’s 2015 opponents is ranked. Tennessee checks in at No. 25. The Mean Green don’t travel to take on the Vols until Nov. 14. A lot can happen before then, but Tennessee being ranked to start the season does speak to the challenge that game will present.

And while neither team is ranked, Louisiana Tech and Marshall both received votes. Louisiana Tech picked up five points, while Marshall had four.

UNT will face both Conference USA teams on the road. I thought it was interesting that Western Kentucky didn’t receive a vote. There are a lot of people out there that think the Hilltoppers are the team to beat in C-USA.

Dillard

Dillard

And speaking of C-USA, UNT senior outside hitter Carnae Dillard was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year today. UNT was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll.

It will be an interesting year for UNT. Dillard has rolled up a ton of individual honors and statistics along the way, but the Mean Green have never been able to get over the hump and get to the NCAA tournament in her career.

UNT came closest during Dillard’s freshman season, but was whacked 3-0 in the Sun Belt tournament final by Western Kentucky.

 

Well, there you go. UNT’s new uniforms

UNT unveiled its new football uniforms this afternoon.

The helmets are black with a green eagle logo.

The challenge is coming up with a look players and recruits like. Uniforms have become more of a selling point in college football over the years.

To UNT’s credit, the program has jumped on the bandwagon and produced some alternate looks and gone with different designs and combinations.

It looks like UNT came up with a look that will be a selling point for the program.

UNT specialists breakdown — Kickers will be a strength

North Texas kicker Trevor Moore strokes a field goal during spring practice. Moore will be one of several key specialists returning for UNT this fall. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas kicker Trevor Moore strokes a field goal during spring practice. Moore will be one of several key specialists returning for UNT this fall. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

As the 2015 football season approaches, we will look at each position on the Mean Greens roster. UNT’s specialists are up today.

A look at UNT’s pecking order:

Kicker 
Trevor Moore

Punter
Eric Keena -or-
Blake Macek

Kick/punt returners
Darvin Kidsy -or-
Carlos Harris

Outlook for the 2015 season:

UNT had one of the more productive special teams units in Conference USA last season behind coordinator Tommy Perry.

Kicker Trevor Moore is one of the best at his craft in C-USA, and the country for that matter. He hit 15 of his 17 field goal attempts and tied a school record for accuracy at 88.2 percent. He also hit all 37 of his extra point attempts and tied a program record for most makes in a season without a miss.

The Mean Green should also be solid in the punting game behind Keena and Macek, who combined to average 43.2 yards an attempt last season.

Kidsy returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns last season while averaging 24.9 yards a kick return and 10.1 yards a punt return. Harris averaged 23.6 yards a kick return.

UNT’s coverage units were also solid. The Mean Green led C-USA in kickoff coverage with an average of 43.9 net yards per attempt.

Future at the position:

UNT is in terrific position when it comes to its special teams. Harris is the only key player in the whole operation who will be a senior this fall.

The Mean Green should be solid for the next two years and likely a whole lot better than that with Moore, Kidsy and its punters all having at least two years left to play at UNT.

UNT position preview series:

Quarterbacks – McNulty in position to hang on to starting job

Running backs – Wilson, Jimmerson lead talented group

Wide receivers – UNT has talented players ready to power passing game in 2015, beyond.

Offensive line – UNT rebuilding around Kaydon Kirby

Defensive line – UNT has a good mix of veterans, newcomers

Linebackers – UNT looks to move on without leader

Secondary — UNT will rebuild around Buyers

Report: SMU’s Brown facing ‘lack of coach control’ charge

There was a time not too long ago, before Johnny Jones left for LSU, that one could make a pretty good case that North Texas was the best college basketball program in the Dallas area.

SMU has since surpassed the Mean Green.

A report tonight from Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde could impact the Mustangs, their future and their ability to hold on to that title.

Forde is reporting that SMU coach Larry Brown will face a “lack of coach control” charge. 

Brown has face similar issues twice in the past, at both UCLA and Kansas. Both programs were hit with major sanctions.

UNT and SMU don’t play, or even compete for the same recruits at this point. The proximity of the schools and the fact that UNT fans like to keep tabs on their neighbors to the south makes this pretty interesting — not to mention worth mentioning.

UNT’s annual Helmets Heels event tomorrow

The UNT football team’s coaching staff will host its annual Helmets and Heels clinic for women from 5 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at Apogee Stadium.

Dan McCarney and his staff will host the event that gives women a chance to learn more about the fundamentals and strategy of the game.

The clinic will take place at Apogee’s Hub Club and will include a guided tour of the stadium, including the locker rooms and field. Those who attend will be able to try on equipment, including shoulder pads and helmets.

A players panel, referee presentation and raffle also will take place. The cost of the event is $50 at the door.

UNT does a really good job with the event.