The Sunday leftovers — Video games lawsuit settlement, recruiting tidbits

It’s Sunday night and time for the Leftovers, where we pick through the events of the last few days, reheat the good stuff — and some of the bad — while hopefully putting it all in perspective.

We are well into the glorious time of the year when there isn’t a whole lot going on, giving everyone a chance to take a bit of a breather.

Even though that is the case, there are a couple of items I wanted to get to.

First off, it looks like college athletes who were featured in video games from May 2003 through September 2014 will receive at least $1,000, while some could receive as much as $6,700 as part of a settlement over the use of their likenesses.

It’s a pretty interesting story and issue. Be sure to check it out.

And while not a lot is going on in terms of sports at UNT this time of year, this is a pretty key period in the football recruiting cycle.

We have caught up with several UNT prospects over the last few days, including JUCO wide receiver Devin Elliott. The story we wrote on Elliott has links back to the earlier prospects we wrote about in addition to the two UNT players who have committed so far.

UNT recruiting target series — Devin Elliott

Junior college prospects normally emerge as major college recruits early on in short stays at two-year institutions.

Devin Elliott‘s breakout moment came a little later in his time at Jones (Mississippi) Junior College. The Mississippi native played sparingly in his first college season last fall after spending a year in prep school at Atlanta Sports Academy.

Elliott, who is 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds, shined in spring practice just a few months ago and has seen his stock soar ever since.

“I got a lot of offers in the spring,” Elliott said. “I’m a deep threat. Each scrimmage I had more than 150 yards and had touchdowns in each game.”

“There were so many coaches that came in during the spring.”

UNT was among them and joined a growing number of teams that have offered Elliott a scholarship. UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales is recruiting Elliott.

Toledo, Texas Tech, Minnesota and Memphis have also offered Elliott a scholarship. Here are Elliott’s Hudl highlights.

Elliott said Memphis, Toledo and UNT are the top three schools he is considering at this point. He has visited Memphis and plans to visit Toledo and some of the Power 5 schools that are also recruiting him but have yet to offer a scholarship, including Minnesota. He could also visit UNT.

Elliott said he will likely make a decision on where he will continue his career shortly after taking all his official visits.

Landing at a Power 5 school isn’t what Elliott’s top concern.

“I want to see what type of offense schools run,” Elliott said. “I want to go to a school that fits me. I want to get on the field and produce.”

UNT commitments
WR/ATH Deion Hair’Griffin, Fort Worth Arlington Heights
RB Tyrone Middleton, San Antonio Southwest

UNT recruiting target series:
WR Kofi Boateng, Arlington Lamar
CB Ivan King, Snow College
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak ——————- Committed to Houston
DT Cameron Murray, Bryan High, Arkansas
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village
ATH Patrick Taylor Jr., Jersey Village
DT Douglas Tucker, Parish Episcopal
OL Jace Webb, Hollis, Oklahoma, High
WR Marquis Wimberly, Chaffey College

As we wait for fireworks, who could set some off for UNT?

North Texas wide receiver Carlos Harris catches a pass in front of Louisiana Tech defensive back Xavier Woods in the Mean Green’s loss to the Bulldogs at Apogee Stadium last season. Harris will be one of UNT’s key playmakers this fall. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

North Texas wide receiver Carlos Harris catches a pass in front of Louisiana Tech defensive back Xavier Woods in the Mean Green’s loss to the Bulldogs at Apogee Stadium last season. Harris will be one of UNT’s key playmakers this fall. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

It’s the Fourth of July, a day for cookouts, family time and — most notably — fireworks.

Everyone likes fireworks.

And that brings us to UNT, which had a notable lack of them last season. The Mean Green scored 21 or fewer points in seven games and lost six of them on their way to a 4-8 finish.

UNT still averaged 27.2 points a game, although that total was inflated by a 77-point game in a win over an over matched Nicholls State team.

The Mean Green were a whole lot more productive in 2013, when they averaged 31.8 points a game and finished 9-4. UNT was held to 21 or fewer points four times in one of its best seasons in program history and lost them all.

You get the point.

If UNT is going to get to where it wants to be this fall, it’s going to have to find a way to make some fireworks offensively.

So, who are the players who could help UNT reach that goal? Quarterback play will be the key, but it will take more than just a solid season from Andrew McNulty, DaMarcus Smith or a player to be named later for the Mean Green to reach that goal.

Today, we focus on the rest of UNT’s skill position players and the guys who could end up being key weapons.

Carlos Harris, WR — The senior has been consistently productive during his career and led UNT in both receptions (70) and receiving yards (863).  There wasn’t much of a secret as to where UNT was trying to go with the ball in the passing game last season. Harris was still productive. UNT will need him to have another big season this fall.

Jeffrey Wilson, RB — UNT’s coaches are convinced Wilson is a star in the making. His season-ending performance in a loss to UTSA that saw him rush for 105 yards only increased the expectations that Wilson could be in for a big year in 2015. He could be a key playmaker for UNT this fall.

Marcus Smith, TE — Smith caught six touchdown passes last season, twice as many as any other player on the Mean Green’s roster. Considering how much UNT employs tight ends in its offense, the senior could be a star for UNT this fall.

Antoinne Jimmerson, RB — Jimmerson led UNT in rushing last season with 589 yards and has rushed for at least 400 yards in all three of his seasons playing for the Mean Green. There is no reason to think he isn’t in line to add another season with at least that many yards while helping bolster UNT’s offense.

Turner Smiley, WR — The sophomore caught 14 passes last season, including a 44-yard touchdown strike in a loss to UAB. The experience Smiley gained as a freshman could pay dividends this fall.

Tee Goree, WR — UNT redshirted Goree last season and expects one of its most highly regarded recruits of recent years to play a key role this fall.

Willy Ivery, RB — Ivery has elite-level speed and could be ready to take on a larger role this fall. UNT likes to rotate running backs, which will leave him plenty of opportunities. Ivery played only sparingly in 2014.

Thoughts on UNT’s top 25 players

Andrew McNulty is competing to hang on to the starting quarterback job at North Texas heading into the 2015 season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Andrew McNulty is competing to hang on to the starting quarterback job at North Texas heading into the 2015 season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Over the last few last couple of days, we have posted a rundown of the top 25 players on UNT’s roster heading into the 2015 football season.

The exercise is about as subjective as one can possibly imagine. There is no right or wrong answer.

A few people have posed some good questions about my justification for the way I came up with the top 25.

I rated UNT’s players by what I perceived to be their value/importance to the Mean Green’s season. We have a few amateur scouts who read the blog. They often make good points.

Personally, I don’t pretend to be in the talent scouting business.

What I will say is who I think has the ability to make an impact for UNT next season and how I think all the pieces will fit together after covering college football for a long time and watching a lot of Mean Green players come and go.

And that brings us to my most controversial pick in Andrew McNulty at No. 9. Is McNulty the most talented quarterback in Conference USA? Nope. Is he a top 10 players for UNT heading into next season?

Oh, heck yes.

McNulty will have to hang on to the job in fall practice when he competes with DaMarcus Smith.

We have seen absolutely nothing of Smith so far, not even in practice. He hasn’t taken a snap.

That puts him in the category of other quarterbacks who have come through Denton who were expected to ride in and save the day despite lacking experience like Joey Byerly, Dajon Williams, Woody Wilson and countless others.

A few have panned out, including Andrew Smith, who took over for Scott Hall when he was injured in 2002, but there have been far more misses than hits when it comes to players in that situation.

Experience goes a long way in college football when it comes to quarterbacks, and just players in general. It’s not all about raw talent. Defensive end Chad Polk doesn’t have the size to be a top player for UNT, but that is just what he is.

When I rated UNT’s players, I gauged them on their potential impact based on performance at the college level more than anything else, including who offered them out of high school or their size and speed.

And when it comes to impact, I’m much more comfortable guessing that players who have experience and have done it before will do it again. The odds of success are a lot higher with them when compared to unproven guys we are guessing have high ceilings.

Ranking the North Texas Mean Green’s roster: Numbers 5-1

North Texas wide receiver Carlos Harris (9) pulls away from UTSA safety Triston Wade during the Mean Green's loss to the Roadrunners during the 2013 season Apogee Stadium. Harris is among the elite players returning this season for the Mean Green. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas wide receiver Carlos Harris (9) pulls away from UTSA safety Triston Wade during the Mean Green’s loss to the Roadrunners during the 2013 season Apogee Stadium. Harris is among the elite players returning this season for the Mean Green. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT lost several of its front-line players after the 2014 season, when the Mean Green finished 4-8, including offensive lineman Cyril Lemon and linebacker Derek Akunne. The cupboard is far from bare, though. Wide receiver Carlos Harris is on track to become one of the most prolific players at his position in program history. Tight end Marcus Smith has established himself as a weapon in the  passing game, while kicker Trevor Moore is one of the elite specialists in Conference USA.

That trio, along with pass rushing defensive end Chad Polk and running back Jeffrey Wilson round out our rundown of the top players on UNT’s roster heading into the 2015 season.

1.) Carlos Harris, WR. Harris is arguably UNT’s top returning player. He was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection as a junior and enters his senior year with 1,679 receiving yards. His 136 catches already rank 10th in program history. If Harris posts another season like last year, when he caught 70 passes for 836 yards, he will rank among the top three players in program history in both categories.

2.) Chad Polk, DE. Polk has been a big – and somewhat unexpected success story – after moving from linebacker to defensive end at UNT. The senior led the Mean Green with 5.5 sacks in 2014, when he was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection. Polk is small for a defensive lineman at 6-0, 231, but makes up for what he lacks in size with speed and agility.

3). Trevor Moore, K. Moore was a huge asset for UNT during his freshman year, when he was essentially automatic as the Mean Green’s kicker. The sophomore hit 15 of his 17 field goal attempts and all 37 of his extra points. Moore was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection in 2014.

4.) Jeffrey Wilson, RB. Wilson was a steal in recruiting for UNT and was expected to make an immediate impact after signing with the Mean Green out of Elkhart. Wilson was injured for much of the season, but rushed for 105 yards in UNT’s season finale, a loss to UTSA. The sophomore enters the season projected to start and lead UNT’s running back rotation.

5.) Marcus Smith, TE. Smith was one of UNT’s top offensive weapons in 2014, when he caught six touchdown passes. The senior finished with twice as many touchdown catches as any other UNT receiver and also finished third on the team with 238 receiving yards. Smith will be a big part of the Mean Green’s plans offensively this fall.

Series review

Nos. 6-10 — Projected started quarterback, established veterans will play vital roles for UNT.

Nos. 11-15  – Players with experience and room to grow, including Kishawn McClain and Sam Rice, will play vital roles for UNT.

Nos. 16-20 – Young players, including offensive lineman Chris Miles, defensive end Tillman Johnson, are in position to break out.

Nos. 25-21 – Elite recruits, including quarterback DaMarcus Smith, defensive end Jareid Combs have potential to make an impact

UNT recruiting target series — Cameron Murray

UNT typically doesn’t venture out of Texas when it comes to recruiting. The exception often comes when the Mean Green pursue a top player in a neighboring state.

Cameron Murray, a defensive tackle from Bryan High in Arkansas, is among the players who fit the profile in the Class of 2016.

UNT offered the highly recruited three-star lineman before his junior season and is still trying to climb its way into contention to pick up a commitment heading into his senior season.

Murray, who is 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, has offers from five schools, including UNT. Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State have also offered Murray.

“I want to let things play out,” Murray said. “I might get more offers. Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Houston have invited me to camp and are talking to me.”

UNT defensive line coach Kevin Patrick is recruiting Murray and has made a good impression.

“He’s pretty cool,” Murray said. “He invited me up to come to their Friday Night Lights camp.”

UNT hosts its final camp of the summer on July 31, when it typically hosts its top prospects to participate in an evening event at Apogee Stadium.

UNT will have to make up some ground before national signing day if it hopes to land Murray, who said his top three teams at this point are Louisiana Tech, Kansas and Arizona. Murray has already begun taking visits and weighing how he fits in at the schools he is considering, which will be the biggest factor in his recruiting process.

“I want to see how I interact with the coaches and the team,” Murray said. “Academics are also important and I want to see if the schools I am looking at are somewhere I can spend four years.”

One reason Murray wants to wait to see how his senior season plays out is the setback he experienced last year. Murray missed two games after coming down with pneumonia and played part of the year at less than 100 percent.

“That hurt me a little bit, but I still had a good season,” Murray said.

Murray’s performance attracted the attention of the coaches at UNT, who are hoping he will visit later this summer.

UNT commitments
WR/ATH Deion Hair’Griffin, Fort Worth Arlington Heights
RB Tyrone Middleton, San Antonio Southwest

UNT recruiting target series:
WR Kofi Boateng, Arlington Lamar
CB Ivan King, Snow College
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak ——————- Committed to Houston
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village
ATH Patrick Taylor Jr., Jersey Village
DT Douglas Tucker, Parish Episcopal
OL Jace Webb, Hollis, Oklahoma, High
WR Marquis Wimberly, Chaffey College

Ranking the North Texas Mean Green’s roster: Numbers 6-10

North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty throws a pass in a game against SMU  last season. The senior is in line to start this fall, when the Mean Green open their season in Dallas against the Mustangs. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty throws a pass in a game against SMU last season. The senior is in line to start this fall, when the Mean Green open their season in Dallas against the Mustangs. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas has several veteran players it will lean on this fall on both sides of the ball. The Mean Green’s hope is that several of them will build on solid seasons in 2014. Those players fill out most of the spots from Nos. 6-10 on our countdown of UNT’s top players heading into the 2015 season.

Running back Antoinne Jimmerson has a chance to finish his career ranked among UNT’s top 10 in rushing yards all-time, while cornerback Kenny Buyers, defensive end Jarrian Roberts and punter Eric Keena are among the Mean Green’s elite players on either defense or special teams. Andrew McNulty had his moments as UNT’s quarterback last season and is the safe bet to start the Mean Green’s season-opener at SMU.

6.) Antoinne Jimmerson, RB. Jimmerson led UNT with 589 rushing yards as a junior in 2014 and enters this senior season with 1,579 yards. He will crack the top 10 in career rushing yards in UNT history with another 499 yards in his final season with the Mean Green. Jimmerson will get plenty of carries.

7.) Kenny Buyers, CB. Buyers is UNT’s top returning tackler with 55 stops. He started at cornerback as a junior, when he intercepted two passes. Byers is one of UNT’s best open-field tacklers and posted three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The former L.D. Bell standout will anchor UNT’s secondary this fall, when he will be the Mean Green’s only returning starter in the defensive backfield.

8.) Eric Keena, P. Keena was part of a two-man punting rotation with Blake Macek and averaged 44.8 yards an attempt in 2014, when he was named honorable mention All-Conference USA. Keena had nine punts of 50 yards or more, including one that traveled 71 yards.

9.) Andrew McNulty, QB. McNulty has been written off more than once in his career, but enters the 2015 season in prime position to start at quarterback for the Mean Green. He played well throughout spring practice and threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in UNT’s spring game. That performance came on the heels of a junior season when he started the final six games of the season after the Mean Green tried two other quarterbacks. JUCO transfer DaMarcus Smith was expected to compete with McNulty for the starting job during spring drills. That plan went up in smoke when Smith didn’t qualify academically. He’s on campus now and will get a shot in two-a-days, but it’s hard to imagine McNulty not opening the season as UNT’s starter. UNT head coach Dan McCarney is conservative offensively and values experience. McNulty has a ton of playing time under his belt and seems destined to be under center when the Mean Green face SMU to open the year.

10.) Jarrian Roberts, DE. Roberts ranked second among returning UNT players with 5.5 tackles for loss in 2014. The junior also had two sacks and returned a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown in a win over SMU. He is expected to be a mainstay in UNT’s rotation at defensive end this fall.

Series review

Nos. 11-15  – Players with experience and room to grow, including Kishawn McClain and Sam Rice, will play vital roles for UNT.

Nos. 16-20 – Young players, including offensive lineman Chris Miles, defensive end Tillman Johnson, are in position to break out.

Nos. 25-21 – Elite recruits, including quarterback DaMarcus Smith, defensive end Jareid Combs have potential to make an impact

What is UNT getting in Deion Hair’Griffin? His coach’s take

UNT picked up its second commitment for its 2016 recruiting class recently when Arlington Heights slot receiver/athlete Deion Hair’Griffin decided to play for the Mean Green.

We covered the story briefly on the blog and then went into greater detail in the paper today.

The one person I tried to get a hold of but didn’t reach until this morning was Arlington Heights coach Phil Young. The long-time high school coach spent three seasons as an assistant coach at UNT under Dennis Parker.

” He’s a great player and along with that he is a great young man,” Young said of Hair’Griffin. “He will want to be a leader, but will serve in whatever role you need him to.”

Hair’Griffin served as a playmaker from the quarterback position for Arlington Heights last season. The remarkable statistic Young mentioned that we didn’t in the paper was that Hair’Griffin threw 25 touchdown passes without an interception as a junior.

Hair’Griffin is familiar with the wide receiver spot he will play in college, despite spending the last few seasons throwing passes instead of catching them.

“He was a slot in pee wee and youth ball,” Young said. “What’s so impressive is his speed. No one has run him down in the two years. Once he clears he is gone.

“He’s a one move and go kinda of guy.”

Young doesn’t anticipate changing positions in college to be a problem for Hair’Griffin, not after coming through a high school program that preaches the value of being versatile.

“We tell our kids to marry a program not a position,” Young said. “That way whatever position you play, you will be happy to be there. That’s his outlook.”

Young said Hair’Griffin’s recruiting process came down to a three-team race between UNT, SMU and Northwestern. Hair’Griffin is a good student, which attracted the attention of several private schools.

“He loved the coaches at North Texas, ” Young said. “It’s close to home.”

Wednesday afternoon hoops tidbits — Former UNT assistant to OSU, et cetera

Another one of UNT’s former basketball assistant coaches has landed a new job. Ashley Davis, who worked at UNT under Mike Petersen, is joining the staff at Oklahoma State.

Wesley Brooks, another assistant coach on that staff, is now at Utah.

And while we are on the topic of basketball …

New UNT women’s basketball coach Jalie Mitchell offered Dekaney point guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris a few days ago. She was an all-state, all-region and all-district selection as a junior.

Ranking the North Texas Mean Green’s roster: Numbers 11-15

North Texas wide receiver Darvin Kidsy is brought down by Florida International safety Niko Gonzalez (33) after breaking loose on a kick return last season at Apogee Stadium. Kidsy will be among UNT’s top returning players this season. (David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle)

North Texas wide receiver Darvin Kidsy is brought down by Florida International safety Niko Gonzalez (33) after breaking loose on a kick return last season at Apogee Stadium. Kidsy will be among UNT’s top returning players this season. (David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle)

Our countdown of the top players on North Texas’ roster moves closer to the top 10 today with Nos. 11-15, a group that includes several key players with starting experience who could be in position to make the next step in their development.

Kaydon Kirby is UNT’s lone returning starter on its offensive line and moves into a leadership role this season, while Kishawn McClain is in position to become a full-time starter at safety. He filled as a starter last season when Sheldon Wade was injured. Offensive lineman Sam Rice, wide receiver Darvin Kidsy and linebacker Fred Scott will also be key players for the Mean Green..

11.) Kaydon Kirby, OL. Kirby has been an overlooked member of a standout offensive line the last two seasons and will be vital for the Mean Green in 2015. He will be the Mean Green’s lone returning starter following the departure of four key players, including three four-year starters. Two of those starters – guard Cyril Lemon and tackle Antonio Johnson – were signed by the New Orleans Saints.

12.) Darvin Kidsy, WR/RS. Kidsy ranked second among UNT players with 680 all-purpose yards after serving as one of the Mean Green’s primary receivers and top punt returner. He also returned kickoffs. Kidsy caught 15 passes for 148 yards and should be a key contributor on offense and special teams again this year.

13.) Kishawn McClain, S. McClain started three games at safety as a freshman when UNT was without Wade. The former Rosenberg Terry standout showed signs of potential in that stint as a starter and finished with 39 tackles while earning a spot on the All-Freshman Team in Conference USA.

14.) Fred Scott, LB. Scott posted 54 tackles in 2014. Only cornerback Kenny Buyers finished with more among UNT’s returning players with 55. Scott started at middle linebacker last season, but is moving to the strong side where he will have to hold off highly regarded JUCO transfer Cortney Finney for the starting job.

15.) Sam Rice, OL. Rice committed to UNT out of Coppell before backing out and signing with SMU. He started six games for SMU in 2013 before leaving the school and transferring to UNT. Rice sat out last season and has quickly worked his way into position to start for UNT this fall while also emerging as a leader on an offensive line with just one starter returning.

Series review

Nos. 16-20 — Young players, including offensive lineman Chris Miles, defensive end Tillman Johnson, are in position to break out.

Nos. 25-21 – Elite recruits, including quarterback DaMarcus Smith, defensive end Jareid Combs have potential to make an impact