Mike Stojkovic has left the UNT football program, head coach Dan McCarney confirmed Monday afternoon.
The sophomore linebacker from Katy finished fifth among UNT players with 48 tackles last season, despite not playing in the Mean Green’s season finale against Middle Tennessee.
“Stojkovic is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities,” McCarney said. “We wish him the best. He was not dismissed or pushed out the door.”
Stojkovic came to UNT from Valley Forge Military Academy and moved into the starting lineup in the third week of the season after Jeremy Phillips suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for six games.
Stojkovic played a key role for the Mean Green the rest of the season. He finished fourth on the team with 5.5 tackles for loss.
Perhaps Stojkovic’s best game came when he posted nine tackles in a loss to Arkansas State.
The loss of Stojkovic will leave UNT with just two of its top 10 tacklers from last season returning.
Phillips is listed as a starter at one outside linebacker spot on UNT’s post spring depth chart with junior Will Wright on the opposite side. Wright started three games last season and finished with 31 tackles. Redshirt freshmen Chad Polk and Kendall Washington are listed as UNT’s top backups at outside linebacker.
“We feel good about who we have, the depth that we have and the competition,” McCarney said. “It’s really good. We also know a lot more about the players that we are bringing in this July than the players we brought in previously.”
UNT’s staff, which is headed into its second season, had more time to evaluate the players that will form its next recruiting class.
McCarney came away from spring practice with a positive feeling not only about his incoming recruiting class, but the veterans who will return next season as well.
“I met with every one of the players and there is a different feeling now,” McCarney said. “A lot more of those kids are in with both feet now than there were in the past.”
UNT’s performance in its first season is a key reason. The Mean Green finished 5-7 in McCarney’s first season, equaling its win total from the previous two seasons combined.
UNT will look to build on that performance after losing two of its key defensive players who were scheduled to return next year for at least the beginning of the year. Freddie Warner, UNT’s top defensive back, tore his ACL in spring practice and will be out until at least October.
Stojkovic was part of a 2011 recruiting class McCarney’s staff put together in a matter of weeks that produced several players who contributed right away. Cyril Lemon started every game of his freshman year on UNT’s offensive line, while Andrew Power was a key contributor at tight end.
While that class included its share of hits, there were also a few misses in the group. Defensive tackle Terrell Brooks left the program during his freshman season, while Lincoln safety Kerry Swarn left the program following last season.
Stojkovic is the third member of the class to leave the program.