Key questions of the offseason Part II — Can UNT reload at the skill positions?

North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson will return next season. What the Mean Green can put around him at the skill positions is a key question heading into the 2017 season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson will return next season. What the Mean Green can put around him at the skill positions is a key question heading into the 2017 season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

We are resuming our annual key questions of the offseason series today after a brief hiatus to cover news that has come up over the last few days.

Our second question relates to North Texas ongoing transition to playing in a spread offense. One of the keys to making that type of system work is having enough skill position players to run it.

Spreads require a pretty deep batch of wide receivers and running backs, especially if a team likes to speed up the tempo at times.

That is exactly what UNT did last season, when Seth Littrell and his staff somehow managed to dig up enough players to make it work. UNT had eight players catch at least 10 passes, while three running backs finished with 150 yards or more on the season.

The problem UNT will face heading into the 2017 season is that so many of those players graduated or left the program.

Wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson graduated after leading the Mean Green with 43 catches and 545 receiving yards.

UNT also lost its second leading wide receiver when Terian Goree (36 catches, 328 yards) transferred. Kenny Buyers (32 catches, 324 yards) also graduated.

UNT’s second-leading rusher Willy Ivery (90 carries, 489 yards) left the program.

The Mean Green have some of their other skill position players back, including oft-injured running back Jeffery Wilson (936 yards, 14 touchdowns) and wide receiver Turner Smiley (33 catches, 389 yards).

There are also some good young skill position players in the program, including wide receivers Rico Bussey Jr. and Tyler Wilson.

Expectations are high for redshirt freshman running back Nick Smith and UNT signed some good talented wide receivers in its recruiting class, including Jalen Guyton and Greg White.

That will help, but I am a big believer in proven players.

UNT has a handful at the skill positions heading into the 2017 season, but has a whole lot of questions to answer after so many of its key players from last season left the program.

Some of UNT’s young players and recruits will pan out. Others won’t. That is the way college football works.

UNT will have to hope enough of those players come through to help the Mean Green build on a surprisingly successful 5-8 season that included a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Here is our list so far:

1. How does the QB race play out?

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