UNT began the third week of fall practice this morning in a closed workout over at the Darrell R. Dickey Practice Facility.
I asked head coach Dan McCarney about how some of the key battles in fall practice were progressing after UNT’s scrimmage on Saturday. He said they were, well, progressing and that UNT had yet to make hard decisions in some key position battles — center, tight end(s), et cetera.
We have talked a lot about the quarterback battle, but that is not the only position battle we listed heading into fall practice.
Here’s a look at a few more and what we know:
Center — Kaydon Kirby, who began his career as a walk-on, is competing with JUCO transfer Shawn McKinney for the starting job. I’ve asked a few times about how the battle is going and have been told it is an on-going competition. It looks like that is one of the decisions that is going to go down to the wire.
Wide receiver — UNT knows what it has in Brelan Chancellor, a terrific slot receiver who is going to start.
UNT struggled at the position last year and brought in a host of players to try and improve the talent and production at the position over the last couple of years. UNT wide receivers coach Mike Grant indicated that UNT has settled on a five-man rotation that will also include Darnell Smith, Carlos Harris, Carl Caldwell and Darius Terrell.
UNT has signed some pretty highly rated high school prospects over the last few years, but still has a couple of players who started out as walk-ons in that top five in Smith and Cardwell. Walk-ons are great. I love to see players who were under rated become stars. Chris Hurd started out as a walk-on and was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in 2003.
But there is no denying that seeing highly rated players not work their way into the two-deep is a bit concerning. That is going to catch up to a team eventually.
Tight end — UNT has used tight ends extensively over the last few seasons under offensive coordinator Mike Canales and has a host of good ones, including Drew Miller and Daniel Prior. JUCO transfer Chris Loving arrived in the fall and is expected to make an immediate impact. One player to watch out for is Marcus Smith, who has put on some weight and could end up being an impact player.
Cornerback – UNT has a few quality players to work with and has starters Hilbert Jackson and Zac Whitfield returning. UNT signed James Jones out of Kilgore JC. Kenny Buyers has also emerged as an option. UNT’s coaches have praised Jackson, who seems entrenched in the lineup. Buyers is pushing Whitfield. That appears to be the spot where UNT has to make a decision.
Safety – UNT’s coaches have praised Louisville transfer Zed Evans since he arrived. UNT also has its starters returning in Marcus Trice and Lairamie Lee. That’s two spots for three players. All three will play. The question is who will start. My feeling is that Evans will be in the lineup.
I fully expect UNT to take this down to the wire and make a production out of the release of its depth chart, which would be a good idea considering the drama has built with practices being closed with the exception of parents, athletic department officials and the lettermen, who were let in for the second scrimmage of the fall.
And while we are at it, here is an update on the “Get Your Rear on the Record” contest to pick UNT’s record. E-mail you guess to email@example.com. We have more than 60 people who have turned their guesses in so far.
8-4 — Brandon Daniels, Ronald Parrish (RBP79)
7-5 — Andrew Morris, Christopher Walker, JRock, Greg Wagner, Gonzalo Maturino, Northeast Mean Green, James Stinson
7-6 — Rick Herold, Jonathan Dennis, Andrew J. Hinojosa (UNT Satchmo), Chris Van Cleave (UNT_rocket09), Henry Haskins
6-6 — Harry, Tom Crothers (Eagle MBA), Travis Scott, Shoss, bstnsportsfan3, adman, MeanGreenMatt, Josh Martin, mgfan (Zachary Hallak), NCMeanGreen, Rex Winn (Greenrex), Thomas Van Dieter (Eppie 96), BobFam, Keith Mazy (OXatUNT), Kellen Jemeyson, Scott Robertson (Hunter Green), James Monroe (JKvs.Himself), Alec McKinley
6-7 — Eagle83, Von Eaglin
5-8 — Brandon Cooper (UNT advances to C-USA title game on a tiebreaker and falls)
5-7 — Brett Vito, Rick Ashwander (Scratch1976), GreenBat, Greendylan, Thor, Travis Miller, Jim Hull, Allen Kriesman (Akriesman), Got5onit, Devin Axtman (An Aquarrian), Jared Morris, Eagle in Omaha, Cody Valle, Will Server, Phillip71, Skip Scott, Nathan Harvey
4-8 — UNT Flyer (Derrick Murray), Bryan Graves (UNTGuy5), Marc Hernandez, Adam Rosenfield, Lynn Ramsey, David Guilligan (Mean Green Scrappy)
3-9 — 97and03, filmerj, Rick Smith (GGRN-WHT)