There were a few people who shot me an e-mail about my blog on UNT’s need to sign a quarterback in its 2013 recruiting class.
I thought that was just about as cut and dry an opinion as one could possibly have, especially considering Dan McCarney is on the record saying that is the case. (We are all on the Dan Wagon around here).
I did have a few people say that they feel comfortable with UNT’s situation with the three quarterbacks it has going forward in juniors Derek Thompson and Brent Osborn and sophomore Andrew McNulty.
UNT is headed to Conference USA. It’s going to be tougher, not easier, for UNT to get by without improving its quarterback situation.
I told people back in 2004 that Scott Hall wouldn’t be easy to replace, and guess what? He hasn’t been.
Hall was a first-team All-Sun Belt pick in 2003 and a second-team pick in 2004. UNT hasn’t sniffed having an elite Sun Belt quarterback since.
Thompson finally stabilized the position last year, throwing for 1,759 yards and 11 touchdowns. He wasn’t considered an elite Sun Belt player, but he was solid. At UNT that made him seem like John Elway.
Let’s think about UNT’s history here. The following is a list of quarterbacks UNT has signed since 2003, how they were rated by Rivals.com, which is the most accurate rating service in my opinion, and how they ended up panning out at UNT.
2003 – Jonathan Ieans (2 star): Never panned out as a quarterback and ended up at wide receiver
2004 – Tye Rexrode (2 star): Was recruited more as an athlete and ended up at defensive end
2005 – Korey Washington (2 star): Another player who was recruited as an athlete. Played wide receiver and cornerback. Todd Dodge famously said he didn’t understand why Washington was moved to defense before he arrived considering he was such a great athlete.
2006 – UNT didn’t sign a quarterback
2007 – Giovanni Vizza (2 star): Dodge talked Vizza out of going to Nevada, where he committed to play for the Mean Green. Vizza is arguably the best quarterback UNT has had since Hall. He threw for 5,146 yards in two seasons before leaving the program because he had lost his love of the game while playing for UNT during one of the worst eras in program history.
2008 – Jeremy Phillips (2 star), and Riley Dodge (3 star athlete): Riley Dodge backed out of commitment to Texas, where he was recruited as an athlete, to play for his father at UNT. Jeremy Phillips was moved to defense. There were concerns from Day 1 that Riley Dodge was too small to be an FBS quarterback that proved to be accurate. Dodge threw for 3,187 yards in his career, but was in and out of the lineup with injuries while UNT continued to struggle. He transferred to McNeese State after his father was fired and was forced to give up football due to injuries.
2009 – Derek Thompson (2 star): Thompson had a solid first season as a starter last year and led UNT to five wins, the best season the Mean Green has turned in since Hall was the starter.
2010 – Derrick Teegarden (2 star): The former Odessa standout was recruited as an athlete and has since moved to wide receiver.
2011 – Cooper Jones (3 star), Andrew McNulty (2 star), Brent Osborn (3 star): Jones was recruited with the understanding that he might move to another position and he has – shifting to tight end. Osborn lost the battle for the starting job to Thompson and was third-string behind McNulty last season. He was second string coming out of spring practice. McNulty was forced into the lineup when Thompson was hurt last season and struggled at times, although he did show signs of potential.
2012 – UNT didn’t sign a quarterback
In short, there is no way to argue that UNT has struggled to land good quarterbacks and has a need at the position. Thompson and Osborn will be seniors in 2013. McNulty will be a redshirt sophomore or a junior.
If UNT signs a high school quarterback this year, he will have one season as an understudy before competing with McNulty for the starting job.
One of the big advantages Sun Belt opponents have had over UNT the last several years is a better quarterback situation. Arkansas State has Ryan Aplin, Louisiana-Lafayette found Blaine Gautier, Troy has Corey Robinson, who threw four touchdown passes against UNT last year. The Mean Green had to outscore the Trojans to win that game.
Neither Aplin nor Robinson were highly recruited. But let’s face it, UNT has gone down the road of trying to find a diamond in the rough to develop. It worked out once with Thompson. Once. Vizza was fairly highly recruited and ended up being one of the more productive quarterbacks UNT has had in years.
That is why it’s so important for UNT to start pulling in more highly regarded players at quarterback quickly. This team won’t be able to afford to not hit at a higher percentage in the future.
Consider what UNT will face in CUSA. These are the quarterbacks the teams in the league signed in 2012:
East Carolina: Vintavious Cooper, 2 star JC transfer
Marshall: Gunnar Holcombe, 3 star high school player with offers from South Florida, Western Michigan and Buffalo
Rice: Tyler Stehling, 3 star high school player with offers from Colorado, Louisville and Arizona
Southern Miss: Anthony Alford, 4 star high school player, the fifth-rated dual-threat quarterback and 157-rated player in the country
UTEP: Jake Larson and Garrett Simpson, 2-star players
Tulane: Devin Powell, 2-star player
Tulsa: Dane Evans, 3-star player with offers from SMU and Utah
UAB: Josh Greer, 2-star player who was offered by UNT in addition to Memphis and UCF
Louisiana Tech: Ryan Higgins, 3-star player with offers from Houston and Memphis and JUCO recruit Andy McAlindon
UTSA: Tucker Carter and Zach Conque, a pair of two-star players
There are some under the radar guys in there, but the majority of teams signed a top prospect at quarterback. UNT would do itself a big favor if it can do just that.
That was my point all along.