I’m back from a short vacation and am ready to resume my post-spring blog series on UNT’s roster position-by-position by evaluating the Mean Green’s offensive line, but first a fun story.
Vicky and I went to Portland for a few days and picked up a car at the airport. The guy from Enterprise looked at my license and said, “Denton, home of the Mean Green.”
Long story short, we got to talking and it turned out the guy went to Troy for a couple of semesters before graduating from a school in Florida.
(Insert joke about the Troy guy working at Enterprise here)
Anyway, just thought that was interesting. But back to the matter at hand.
UNT’s offensive line was a big strength last season. Lance Dunbar ranked third in the Sun Belt with 1,115 rushing yards on the season and UNT allowed just 16 sacks, a total that also ranked third in the league.
What is a huge positive for UNT going forward is that most of the group is back and some young players gained experience in the spring that will allow them to provide added depth.
The lone player UNT lost who played a significant role was tackle Matt Tomlinson, who was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection. JJ Johnson was expected to start at center, but was hurt in the season-opener and never really played a major role outside of being a great leader.
Cyril Lemon was an honorable mention all-conference selection after a tremendous freshman season. Lemon is a terrific player and just as good a guy.
UNT came out of spring practice with the following lineup:
LT –Antonio Johnson
LG — Mason Y’Barbo
C — Aaron Fortenberry
RG — Cyril Lemon
RT — Coleman Feeley
Johnson and Y’Barbo played well as freshmen on the same side of the line. Fortenberry slid over from tackle to center after Johnson was hurt and played well. Feeley has been around a long time and has been everywhere from the starting lineup to the doghouse. He’s back as a starter heading into next year.
Offensive coordinator Mike Canales said following spring practice that he was especially excited about the depth UNT has developed on its line. Dan McCarney talked a lot about how he likes to play a lot of players heading into his first season at UNT and promised to play a lot of guys.
Then he got to know his roster and found out that he didn’t have a lot of guys he could play. UNT road its top five linemen like rented mules last year. UNT should have more depth this year, thanks to the development of Cam Feldt and Travis Ellard, who bears a striking resemblance to the guy on the Scott’s Lawn commercials. Feed your lawn, people. Feed it.
Ellard started at guard all spring in place of Lemon, who was recovering from surgery. Lemon will be ready to go in the fall.
Felt was probably the victim of high expectations after he transferred from Arkansas. A lot of people — I was one — had him penciled in at one of the tackle spots. UNT moved Feldt to guard, where he is currently backing up another sophomore in Mason Y’Barbo.
UNT also signed some good linemen in its last class, including Boone Felt, Cam’s younger brother.
The bottom line is that UNT should be very good and very deep on its offensive line this year. The only spot of concern is right tackle, where Feeley moves into the lineup.
UNT has depth all across its front, not to mention some good players who will have to lead the way for an offense in transition following the graduation of Dunbar. UNT has some young running backs its coaching staff likes, but there is no doubt the Mean Green’s line can help this team’s cause by clearing the way for whoever the running backs in the rotation are. Quarterback Derek Thompson also has a history of injuries. UNT will have to protect him. Losing Thompson would be disastrous.