Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton
North Texas freshman linebacker Michael Stojkovic (31) slams into Indiana sophomore quarterback Edward Wright-Baker last season at Apogee Stadium.
When it comes to college football recruits at North Texas the last few years, Mike Stojkovic had maybe the most unusual story of them all.
Stojkovic was a high school quarterback who somehow ended up at Valley Forge Military Academy, became a linebacker and then a starter practically from Day 1 at UNT.
And just like that, he was gone.
Head coach Dan McCarney confirmed today that Stojkovic had left the program after ranking among the top 10 tacklers on the team as a freshman.
It’s a tough blow for UNT, but it’s one the Mean Green can overcome.
Jeremy Phillips, the player Stojkovic replaced, is back from injury. So is Will Wright, who seems likely to start on the opposite side.
UNT looked better on defense in the spring than it has in a long time under John Skladany.
UNT’s new defensive coordinator will just have one fewer option when it comes to his corps of linebackers.
When one looks back at it now, we probably should have expected a little attrition in McCarney’s first class. UNT’s staff arrived just weeks before national signing day. UNT’s recruiters barely had a chance to say hello to the prospects in the area before asking them to sign on the dotted line.
There have been some misses in that first class — Terell Brooks, Kerry Swarn and now Stojkovic to name a few.
There have been some hits as well. Cyril Lemon comes to mind.
As UNT moves forward, it will have a whole lot more time to study the players it is signing.
McCarney said today that he feels great about the players in the program. More of them are in with both feet than in the past. McCarney also said he feels more comfortable than in the past about his incoming recruiting class. He knows those players better, and so do his assistants.
Throw in the fact that UNT is headed to Conference USA, and the Mean Green’s staff will have more to sell to players they know better.
That should pay off in the long run.
Losing Stojkovic could hurt UNT next year, especially if the injury bug hits.
There is no question about it.
UNT will just have to hope what it has going for it down the line will help soften the blow.