It looks like UNT has wrapped up its recruiting push for the mid-term signing period.
Let’s review. UNT landed the following players:
Kilgore CB James Jones
Eastern Arizona DE Quenton Brown
Snow offensive OT Justin Manu
Trinity Valley C Shawn McKinney
And while he doesn’t really fit in terms of JUCO transfers, let’s count Louisville S Zed Evans, a former Dallas area standout who is going to graduate and then use his final year of eligibility at UNT.
UNT had a few clear needs heading into the mid-term period, which is where teams that need immediate help find it from the junior college ranks. There are still junior college players out there who will sign in February and then show up in the summer, but the chances of those players making an immediate impact is a lot lower.
UNT needed to find an insurance policy at center after Aaron Fortenberry graduated in case Boone Feldt isn’t ready to go in the fall due to injuries that have stunted his growth as a player, help along its defensive front, an offensive tackle, I would argue some help at wide receiver and any playmaker available on the defensive side of the ball.
So how did UNT do?
For a team that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2004, pretty darn well.
The steal of the group is Jones, an honorable mention NJCAA All-American who had offers from several other FBS programs, including Houston. Jones is the perfect example of a plug-and-play player. UNT will roll him out there next season and hope that he is an immediate upgrade over what it had last year.
One could also argue that Manu is the top player in the group. He was a first-team NJCAA All-American and will likely start at right tackle the minute he shows up.
UNT’s coaches had a history with Brown and brought him in to hopefully fill the spot K.C. Obi left open when he graduated. Brown was a high-end prospect coming out of high school. UNT is hoping he will capitalize on all that potential with the Mean Green. That’s a roll of the dice, but one worth taking when the team didn’t land any of the other high-end JUCO end prospects it was after.
McKinney was a player UNT needed and landed.
Evans is a bit of a mystery man and another option at safety, where UNT’s coaches feel like they need to get better.
UNT definitely addressed some of its issues and landed a few players who could make an immediate impact. That isn’t an easy thing to do.
So where did UNT miss out?
UNT was looking for help at safety. Evans might be the answer, but he played sparingly at Louisville. UNT targeted Blinn safety Demetrius Woodard, but he never warmed to the idea of playing for the Mean Green, cancelled his trip to Denton and signed with Texas State.
Judging by who UNT offered, that was the only spot the team wanted some additional options and didn’t get them.
I still wonder if this team couldn’t have used an outside receiver. UNT has a great slot receiver in Brelan Chancellor and another good player coming at that spot in Carlos Harris. Considering Ivan Delgado and Chris Bynes are gone and Roderick Lancaster is coming off an injury, I have to wonder if UNT isn’t going to be a little short at that spot, even with the addition of transfer Darius Terrell and Carl Cardwell of Kansas Wesleyan, who at 5-10 looks like another slot guy.
Terrell is a bigger guy who Texas was trying to turn into a tight end before he transferred.
UNT’s coaches have talked a lot about adding players with speed, especially on offense. UNT didn’t land players with game-changing speed in the mid-term period.
UNT also needs playmakers on defense and put a lot of eggs in one basket with Jones and Brown, who the Mean Green really needs to pan out.
It’s a balancing act with JUCO players. UNT wants to build with high school talent and plug holes when necessary from the JUCO ranks.
UNT found players to fill the holes it has. They just have to pan out because when a team takes two-year players, that is one less spot to use on high school players to develop over time.
UNT had a lot of really good JUCO players in the bowl years. The hope is that some of the guys who signed on this December will pan out like some of those players did years ago.