I spent an hour or so last night at UNT’s Friday Night Lights camp/recruiting extravaganza.
I plan to have a story in tomorrow’s paper.
I talked to Dan McCarney after the event. He was pleased with how the camp went. The unofficial count for players was right about 300.
In a somewhat ironic twist, Florida had its camp that goes by the same name (McCarney brought the idea from Florida) last night as well.
The difference is that most of the players at Florida’s camp are very high profile guys. It’s harder to tell who the top targets are at a place like UNT, especially since the coaches don’t separate the top prospects out for drills like they do some places.
The best bet is to talk to the high school coaches who are there. If you were following along on Twitter, you know I found a guy who helped me out a little. I walked right by a guy in a Louisiana-Lafayette T-shirt that looked vaguely familiar. It was Kyle Ward. For those of you who have followed the Sun Belt for a while, he was a really good cornerback who played for the Cajuns in the mid- to late-2000.
He’s a coach at West Mesquite now.
He was able to help me out a little with who was there.
There are about a half a dozen FBS prospects at West Mesquite this year, and UNT offered a bunch. Eldridge Massington (USC), Kameron Miles (Tennessee) and Dimarya Mixon (Arizona State) are all off the board. Will Early is the big prize still in play for UNT. He’s a three-star player with offers from Colorado, TCU and Mississippi with Tennessee sniffing around.
Red Oak tight end Jeremiah Gaines was also on hand. UNT has offered the three-star tight end, who recently told Rivals.com that he has cut his list to SMU, Washington State, UCF, Cal, and Wake Forest. He has been to UNT multiple times.
It’s a good sign for UNT that he showed up.
Erik Richards, a 2014 quarterback from Rivercrest was also at camp. I have no idea if UNT is interested, but here are his highlights:
Bottom line, there is nothing but good that can come from having 300 players on campus for a camp, no matter how many of them are top prospects. Apogee is a great place, and UNT’s big selling point, along with the turnaround UNT’s coaches put together last year to get to five wins.
UNT has a good start to its recruiting class with some solid players, including two in the Dallas Morning News Area Top 100 in Guyer defensive back John Schilleci and Keller offensive lineman Cody Nelson.
What would really help UNT out is for its camp to produce a pied piper commitment, one big-name, big ratings guy who could draw the attention of other players in the area and build a little excitement.
Riley Dodge never turned out to be the impact player UNT fans hoped he would when some were saying he would make everyone forget Scott Hall, the last quarterback the Mean Green had on the All-Sun Belt team. But Dodge did build a heck of a lot of enthusiasm and help land a series of other players.
Last year, UNT signed Boone Feldt. The year before that, it was Kerry Swarn and Freddie Warner who were the big-name guys.
Some people will tell you that rankings don’t matter, but in the end, they do. Highly regarded players pan out at a much higher rate than hidden gems. There is a reason they are hidden. Plus, landing one or two big fish gets everyone excited about the future.
UNT did all the right things to put itself in line to land a big fish last night.
Now UNT just has to see if one bites.