A suspect when it comes to Mitchell’s staff

Foreman

Foreman

I was over at the UNT Hall of Fame Luncheon today when I ran into a former UNT player — again.

It’s not official yet, but I would be pretty surprised at this point if Kasondra Foreman does not end up joining Jalie Mitchell’s staff at UNT. We know that Mitchell has said she has one coach already in place.

Foreman was at Mitchell’s introductory press conference and has just seemingly been around pretty much 24-7 of late. Foreman spent the last two seasons at Northwestern State.

I talked to Foreman today, and while no one is going to say anything, she is a close friend of Mitchell.

UNT’s coaches helped her get on and start her coaching career at Northwestern.

Mitchell recruited Foreman at UNT.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but after talking to a few people I don’t think that I am.

UNT spring game — Five quick thoughts

The White beat the Green in the North Texas football team’s annual spring game 48-36 on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. The White team that consisted of UNT’s second- and fourth-team players started out with a 21-point lead and hung on for a 48-36 win the closing minutes.

Andrew McNulty started for the Green team and threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. UNT coach Dan McCarney said that several of his quarterbacks did a good job, but that McNulty is the Mean Green’s starter.

Here are five quick thoughts:

1. UNT still has some work to do offensively

The Mean Green made a few adjustments in the offseason, including going to a quicker tempo. Those adjustments appear as if they will pay off, but there is little doubt UNT still has work to do. McNulty played well at times, but still completed just 14 of his 29 pass attempts. UNT’s starters on the Green rushed for 78 yards on 36 carries. UNT will have to be more efficient.

2. Cortney Finney looks like he will be a starter for this team

JUCO transfer linebacker Cortney Finney finished with 10.5 tackles and was all over the field. Finney was the defensive player of the year last season in junior college and showed why in the Mean Green’s spring game. He will end up starting at some point next season, likely when the Mean Green kick off at SMU.

3. UNT has some weapons in the passing game

UNT knew what it had with senior wide receiver Carlos Harris, who had an outstanding game with six catches for 183 yards. The encouraging sign was the performance of wide receiver Turner Smiley and tight end Chris Loving. Smiley caught five passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns, while Loving caught five passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

4. UNT has some young talent at running back

UNT wants to get the ball to multiple running backs next season and has some options beyond Antoinne Jimmerson, the Mean Green’s top returning rusher. Jeffrey Wilson didn’t have a big day in the spring game, finishing with 44 yards but looked good all spring, when he earned the starting job. Willy Ivery rushed for 70 yards on eight carries. The two should combine with Jimmerson to form a solid rotation.

5. UNT made some headway defensively

UNT had to adjust to new coordinator Chris Cosh in he spring and showed some signs of progress, intercepting two passes and putting pressure on the Mean Green’s quarterbacks most of the day, despite the absence of sophomore defensive end Tillman Johnson, one of UNT’s top pass rushers last season. Johnson was out with a knee injury.

Spring game running blog

I have run up he stairs after the Hall of Fame luncheon.

UNT’s Green team with the starters just went three-and-out with Andrew McNulty running the show.

Josh Greer is in with UNT’s White team, which also just went three-and-out.

3:00 — Andrew McNulty just hit Turner Smiley for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Chalk up another point for McNulty as he continues to pull away in the quarterback race. That is also a big play for Smiley, whose stock is up this spring.

5:31 — Dajon Williams just hit Chris Loving for a 62-yard pass.

5:11 — Andrew Tucker just scored on a 3-yard run for the White team. It’s 28-7 White. UNT has hit two deep balls in the early going against UNT’s rebuilt secondary.

4:28 — Andrew Jones made a nice play on the ball to knock away an Andrew McNulty pass on third down. The Green team will have to punt.

2:34 — The Green team’s offense will have to punt. The White team nearly had an interception on a ball Andrew McNulty was trying to throw away.

End of the first quarter — The White team moved the ball a bit, but had to punt. Dajon Williams completed his first five passes.

10:36 — The Green team just went three-and-out again and had to punt. UNT has really bogged down since hitting on a couple of long passes early.

9:28 — Kenny Buyers just picked off a Josh Greer pass to set the Green team up. Greer is having a tough day.

4:46 — Turner Smiley is having himself a game. He just caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Andrew McNulty, who has two touchdown passes. It’s 28-17 White.

2:53 — The White team went for the first down on fourth-and-2, but Josh Greer was caught for a 4-yard loss. The Green team has the ball back.

1:34 — The Green team has gone three-and-out again. The White team will have the ball at the 8-yard line.

:11 — UNT recruit Dimikal Harrison is here today …

Halftime — We have reached halftime with The White team up 28-17 on the Green team. The game started out with the White team up 21-0. Andrew McNulty has a couple of long touchdown passes. He hit Turner Smiley for touchdowns that covered 38 and 58 yards. That was the highlight of the half.

Kenny Buyers is as solid as ever and intercepted a pass to set up a field goal for the Green team.

McNulty has looked the best among UNT’s quarterbacks. Josh Greer has had a tough day.

I still like the long-term potential of Connor Means. He looked good in the short time he has been out there.

UNT’s defense has made a few plays along the way.

9:51 third quarter — Andrew McNulty hit Darvin Kidsy for 44 yards and then ran the ball in from a yard out. It’s 28-24 White. And McNulty’s lead in this quarterback race continues to grow. UNT has hit on some long balls today.

8:57 — Quinn Shanbour was in for one series, three plays, one incompletion and a sack. And now we can quit talking about Shanbour.

8:24 — Mustafa Haboul just recovered a Green team fumble. Caleb Chumley, who really needs to move to tight end is in at quarterback.

7:43 — The White team just wen absolutely nowhere with Chumley in the game.

6:07 — McNulty just hit Carlos Harris for 58 yards down the sideline. Trevor Moore kicked a 40-yard field goal. It’s 28-27 White.

3:47 — Chris Loving just caught an 11-yard touchdown from Quinn Shanbour to push the White team’s lead to 35-27. The White team ran the ball on six straight plays before that touchdown pass.

1:29 — Trevor Moore connects on a 35-yard field goal to cap a Connor Means drive. Means looked good on that drive.

10:22 — That’s a bit of a stunner. Trevor Moore misses from 37 yards out at the end of a White team drive. It’s 35-30 White.

8:06 — The Green has the ball at the White’s 46 facing fourth-and-4.

7:37 — Andre McNulty hits Carlos Harris for 33 yards to pick up the first down and then hits Turner Smiley for an 11-yard touchdown. The Green went for two and didn’t connect on a pass. It’s 36-35 Green.

7:13 — McNulty has 326 passing yards and three touchdowns.

3:29 — Tee Goree just caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Josh Greer after intercepted a pass to set the White up deep in the Green’s territory.

1:49 — Welp, that’s pretty much it. The White is up 41-36 and just held on fourth down, when Andrew McNulty was sacked.

1:38 — Marcus Smith caught an 18-yard pass from Dajon Williams to put the White up 48-36. Nice throw right there by Williams.

I’m headed down. I’ll be back.

Dave Barnett to take over as voice of UNT athletics

UNT announced today that Dave Barnett will take over as the radio voice of North Texas athletics.

Barnett grew up in Denton and has been a prominent figure in Dallas area radio and television for years. He has been a radio voice for the Mavericks and TV play-by-play announcer for the San Antonio Spurs.

He is best known in he Dallas area for his stint calling Rangers games on radio and TV from 2009-12.

Barnett will take over for George Dunham, who announced he was retiring from his position at UNT after basketball season. Dunham had been the voice of UNT athletics for 25 years.

“I am excited and honored to have been selected to replace the great George Dunham as the voice of the Mean Green football and basketball beginning this fall,” Barnett said in a video UNT released to announce the move. “As a Denton native, as an alum, it’s something I have dreamed about my entire career. It will be quite the honor and a lot of fun to be the voice of the Mean Green.”

Barnett’s stint with the Rangers ended in June of 2012 when he spoke incoherently for 15 seconds during a game against the San Diego Padres. He went on medical leave shortly after and went through a series of medical tests.

The Rangers did not renew his contract at the end of the season.

Barnett spoke about the experience and how his time with the Rangers ended with Barry Horn of The Dallas Morning News in November.

Barnett spent 13 years working for ESPN earlier in his career.

UNT announced the move in conjunction with Saturday’s spring game and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Dunham is a member of this year’s Hall of Fame class.

“It has been a dream come true,” Dunham said of his time calling UNT games after he announced his retirement. “I wanted to call North Texas games when I left school. To do it for 25 years has been incredible. It’s someone else’s turn. Someone will love to do it as much as I did.”

Barnett will now have that opportunity.

UNT spring game preview, tidbits

Safety Kishawn McClain was named one of UNT's most improved players this spring. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Safety Kishawn McClain was named one of UNT’s most improved players this spring. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT’s spring game will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. over a Apogee Stadium.

The wife and I live not too far from the stadium and its raining cats and dogs. Hopefully things clear up by tomorrow afternoon.

A couple of quick tidbits …

The announcement of the Most Improved players is just he beginning. UNT will announce who its new radio voice will be tomorrow and will also unveil the next batch of walk-ons to be put on scholarship. I would just about bet the farm on offensive lineman Sam Rice being one of them. UNT coach Dan McCarney has raved about the SMU transfer all spring.

The game will include 12-minute quarters. UNT’s first- and third-team players will form the Green team that will face the White team that will include the second- and fourth-team guys. Cornerbacks coach LaMarcus Hicks will coach the Green team, while safeties coach Perry Carter will have the White team.

I have a preview story running in tomorrow’s paper on UNT’s effort to improve its offense by making some key adjustments. The biggest is picking up the pace.

Here are a couple of items of interest to watch …

1. Does Andrew McNulty continue to shine?

The senior’s lead in the quarterback race isn’t mini. In fact is pretty sizable over Josh Greer and Dajon Williams. McNulty can put an exclamation point on a really good spring in the Green and White game. He will still have to hold off DaMarcus Smith in the fall, assuming Smith takes care of business and is eligible.

2. What does UNT front seven on defense look like?

UNT has moved players all over the place up front defensively. Andy Flusche is in line to start a defensive end, Fred Scott has moved from middle linebacker to the outside. Defensive end Tillman Johnson is out for the spring with a knee injury. There is no telling what UNT’s lineup will look like, but what we see tomorrow could provide a glimpse of how UNT will line up in the fall.

3. How does UNT’s defensive backfield look?

UNT lost three starters in is secondary and are rebuilding around cornerback Kenny Buyers. That new-look lineup will be tested Saturday.

4. What about UNT’s offensive line?

UNT has four new starters around center Kaydon Kirby. How that group comes together will be critical. The group will get a chance to show what it has in the spring game.

5. Will UNT’s young wide receivers shine?

UNT’s coaches really like redshirt freshmen Tee Goree and O’Keeron Rutherford. We could get a chance to see if they show up big. Both are sitting second on UNT’s depth chart.

6. Does someone really jump out?

The spring game offers an opportunity for a player no one expects to show up. A lot of players will get a golden opportunity to make a move.

MGB video: OC Mike Canales talks about offensive adjustments

One of the intriguing aspects of UNT’s spring drills has been the adjustments the Mean Green are making offensively.

UNT started three quarterbacks last season and scored 21 or fewer points seven times. The Mean Green lost six of those games and finished 4-8.

Those struggles promoted UNT to look for ways to adjust its offensive approach without sacrificing the balance that coach Dan McCarney believes is the key to success.

UNT has talked about pushing the pace all spring.

Offensive coordinator Mike Canales talks about UNT’s plans for its spring game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Apogee Stadium and next season as well in the video above.

UNT position series: Mean Green aim to continue special teams success

North Texas kicker Trevor Moore kicks a field goal in a game against Louisiana Tech last season a Apogee Stadium. Moore was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas kicker Trevor Moore kicks a field goal in a game against Louisiana Tech last season a Apogee Stadium. Moore was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Position: Special teams

Key returnees: P Eric Keena (Jr.), P Blake Macek (Jr.), K Trevor Moore (So.), PR Darvin Kidsy (Jr.), KR Carlos Harris (Sr.)

Key additions: None

Key losses: DS Blake Dunham

2014 recap: UNT has excelled on special teams during the tenure of coordinator Tommy Perry. The Mean Green led Conference USA in kickoff coverage with a net average of 43.9 yards an attempt and also ranked No. 1 in field goal accuracy after hitting 15 of its 17 attempts (88.2 percent). Moore hit all 39 of UNT’s extra point attempts. UNT was also solid in the kickoff return game, ranking fourth in the league at 23.2 yards an attempt. UNT did struggle somewhat on punt returns, where it averaged 7.8 yards an attempt.

The fact that UNT fared as well as it did in the return game was somewhat of a surprise after the Mean Green lost wide receiver Brelan Chancellor, who was named Conference USA’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013. Chancellor is the Mean Green’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 5,503. Harris and Kidsy stepped in to fill that void. Kidsy returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown last season while averaging 24.9 yards per kick return and 10.1 yards a punt return. Harris averaged 23.6 yards a kickoff return.

2015 outlook: UNT coach Dan McCarney firmly believes he has one of the nation’s best kickers in Moore, who was set to walk-on at Oklahoma before receiving a scholarship offer from UNT. That investment paid immediate dividends for UNT, which saw him come through time and again. UNT is also set at punter with the return of Keena and Macek, a pair of players the Mean Green use depending on the situation.

UNT is looking at its options in the return game in spring practice, but he safe bet is that Kidsy will be back returning punts and will team with Harris in the kick return game.

UNT will have to replace some key members of its coverage teams, but has a coach who excels in putting together solid coverage and return units in Perry.

UNT position series: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Defensive line | Linebackers | Secondary

Thursday night notes (UNT tennis team wins in C-USA tournament)

The UNT tennis team started off the Conference USA tournament on a good note by knocking off Louisiana Tech in straight sets. The Mean Green won the doubles point and then quickly rolled off three straight singles wins from Agustina Valenzuela, Franziska Sprinkmeyer and Ana Sofia Cordero, the last three players in its lineup.

The Mean Green advanced to face Old Dominion at noon on Friday.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the story that ran in today’s paper about UNT’s top player Kseniya Bardabush, who models on the side and may have a chance to model professionally after she’s done with tennis.

Bardabush is a great player and a smart woman who is also an honors student.

The tournament is being played at Rice, which has a live stream going.

Small forward Allante Holston commits to UNT (updated)

Allante Holston, a 6-6 small forward whoes stock has shot up over the last few weeks, committed to UNT Thursday evening.

Holston played for a pair of schools in the Washington DC area in high school, spending three seasons at St. John’s College High before transferring to Clinton Christian for his senior year.

Holston elected to spend a year in prep school to improve his perimeter skills in the hope his college opportunities would improve with them.

That is exactly what took place after Holston landed at West Oaks Academy in Florida. Holston averaged 15 points and seven rebounds a game in his one prep season. He chose UNT over offers from Cleveland State, Charlotte, Bradley, Tulsa and Cal State Northridge.

Holston visited UNT over the weekend.

“It was everything,” Holston said of his reasons for committing to UNT. “I liked the coaches and the players. It’s a family oriented program at a big school. I am happy to be a part of North Texas. It felt like home.”

Holston can play both guard spots in addition to small forward. UNT lost small forward Jordan Williams, who led the Mean Green with an average of 14.7 points a game last season, to graduation after his senior season when the was a third-team All-Conference USA selection.

West Oaks played a national prep school schedule against top teams from across the country and knocked off IMG Academy, one of the nation’s elite programs. Holston played a key role in that win and caught the attention of teams across the country.

“He’s becoming a hot commodity right now,” West Oaks coach Chris Chaney said. “He’s 6-6, athletic and knows how to play. The calls were coming in. It’s a great get for North Texas.”

Holston is expected to sign his letter of intent in the next few days and join a class that grew by one earlier in the week when Angelina College shooting guard Deckie Johnson committed to UNT.

UNT signed Arlington Pantego Christian center Rickey Brice and Pro-Vision Academy guard Ja’Michael Brown in the early signing period.

Check back for more later.

UNT two-deep out, here are some thoughts

UNT released its full depth chart today in advance of its spring game on Saturday. There were a few items of interest when it comes to the where UNT stands at this point.

Here are a few thoughts …

– UNT’s key recruits are panning out on its offensive line

The Mean Green nearly signed Sam Rice out of high school before he flipped to SMU. The Mean Green anticipated Rice becoming a key player when he transferred in. Rice has been everything UNT has hoped for and is all but a lock to start.

Redshirt freshman Chris Miles has also played well and is in line to start at right tackle. UNT’s staff has raved about him ever since the Mean Green signed him out of Flower Mound in what looked like an absolute steal in recruiting.

Creighton Barr graduated early and enrolled at semester in the hope that he could play as a freshman. That move appears to have paid off for Barr, who is listed as a backup at center.

– Josh Greer appears to have taken the lead at backup QB

We have been saying for weeks that Andrew McNulty has opened up a big lead at quarterback. So have UNT’s coaches.

The only real question the last few days of spring practice has been who would win the backup quarterback job, Dajon Williams or Josh Greer.

At this point it’s Greer.

There is still a lot to be decided in the fall when UNT hopes JUCO transfer DaMarcus Smith will be eligible. He’s at UNT taking classes.

Key point — Offensive coordinator Mike Canales said he wants to cut the field of guys competing for the quarterback job to two heading into the fall, when Smith will get a lot of reps. McNulty is sure to be of those players. Greer appears to be in line to be the other.

– UNT’s defensive line has a surprise look

UNT has a few holes to fill and a few options in terms of how it will line up on its defensive line. Andy Flusche wasn’t even on UNT’s two deep last season, but is in line to start at defensive end. That could change when Jareid Combs, a JUCO signee who will arrive in the fall, jumps into the mix, but it is a sign Flusche has played well.

The return of Tillman Johnson, who shined in limited action as a freshman, will also change things up a bit at defensive end. Johnson looked like a sure-bet to start before he went down with a right knee injury in practice.

Mustafa Haboul has also risen to the top of the depth chart at defensive tackle

– UNT makes the switch at linebacker

UNT has said ever since last season that it wants to upgrade its play at linebacker and made a couple of switches in an effort to reach that goal. UNT moved middle linebacker Fred Scott outside, where he is in line to start alongside Blake Bean. The Buffalo transfer is UNT’s starting middle linebacker at this point. McCarney told us earlier this spring he wouldn’t be surprised if Trinity Valley College transfer Cortney Finney moves into the starting lineup. Finney is sitting second team behind Scott.

– Chad David leads at cornerback

One of the interesting stories of the spring was Jamal Marshall’s successful move from outside linebacker to cornerback where he played in high school. He is battling Chad Davis for the starting cornerback job opposite of Kenny Buyers. As of now, Davis is UNT’s starter.