UNT media day notes, thoughts

Littrell

Littrell

North Texas held its annual media day at Apogee Stadium this morning.

UNT’s coaches and players were available and Seth Littrell conducted a little state of the union address. There were a few interesting tidbits of note …

It’s looking more and more like Mason Fine will be UNT’s backup quarterback

There was a point some time ago now when Littrell briefly commented on the fact that the optimum situation for a freshman quarterback is to redshirt and develop. More and more, it looks like that plan is out the window when it comes to Mason Fine

“Mason has had an unbelievable camp,” Littrell said. “I feel very confident in him. If he is the best guy – the best No. 2 – no we won’t redshirt him. It’s too long of a season. We have to make sure do everything we can to win football games. If he is the best guy, we won’t redshirt him.”

It seemed like a forgone conclusion once Alabama transfer Alec Morris arrived at UNT that he would start.

UNT brought in JUCO transfer Devin O’Hara, who looked like a perfect candidate to back up Morris while Fine developed.

It now appears like Fine could win the job.

UNT could line up a couple of different way along its offensive front

Sam Rice is UNT’s lone returning starter on its offensive line and will be the Mean Green’s rock up front. He moved from guard to center in the spring, but could play multiple positions this season.

Creighton Barr is UNT’s other center who has seen significant time in practice.

“A lot of it will depend on the style of defense we are playing if Sam or Creighton starts at center,” Littrell said.. “If one of them is at center, the other will be at guard.”

UNT is really coming together as a team

One big theme from media day was the way UNT’s players have come together as a team. The Mean Green have about 50 additions this year.

The more UNT’s players have worked together in practice, the better team chemistry has become. There is also a renewed sense of hope.

“It’s night and day compared to last year,” UNT wide receiver Terian Goree said. “I enjoy coming to practice and working with my brothers every day. I enjoyed it last year for the most part, but sometimes we didn’t want to be out here because we weren’t sure we could win.”

Saturday scrimmage notes, thoughts

North Texas conducted its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas conducted its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

Anthony Wyche, a running back from Los Angeles Valley College, continued to shine during North Texas’ second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

Wyche caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mason Fine and continued to work with UNT’s first- and second-team offense.

“Wyche had a great scrimmage brought some energy to our offense and made plays,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said.

UNT has its top running back in Jeffrey Wilson back and could have a solid one-two punch heading into the season.

North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell talks with his players before two-minute drills at the end of practice.

North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell talks with his players before two-minute drills at the end of practice.

Wyche is also returning punts and kickoffs.

I will have more on Wyche in tomorrow’s paper.

And in other news and notes …

– UNT’s defense came out of the gates well and dominated the early stages of practice before the Mean Green’s offense got rolling.

– Fine continued to draw the praise of Littrell. The freshman can really spin it and moved UNT’s offense. Alec Morris is clearly UNT’s starter and best option. What will be interesting to see is if UNT goes with JUCO transfer Devin O’Hara as its second-string quarterback to redshirt Fine. Littrell is on record saying he doesn’t want to play a freshman quarterback.

– UNT was without its regular deep-snapper Trey Enterline and saw its backups really struggle. UNT yanked Tim Ursery after he airmailed two over the punter’s head.

– Littrell said walk-on Spencer Edwards, a former Rockwall standout who was taken in the second round of the MLB draft, has elite speed and will play wide receiver.

– Tyler Wilson made a terrific catch on a ball from Morris.

– Freshman running back Nick Smith had a nice day..

UNT adds Dan O’Dowd to men’s basketball staff

O'Dowd

O’Dowd

North Texas coach Tony Benford has added veteran assistant coach Dan O’Dowd to his staff.

O’Dowd spent the last 10 years at Texas-San Antonio, including the last eight as the Roadrunners’ associate head coach.

O’Dowd replaces Scott Monarch, who left the staff after last season.

“I am very excited to join coach Benford and his staff,” O’Dowd said in a prepared statement. “I am looking forward to helping the North Texas men’s basketball program compete for conference championships. I want to help build a product that the community, alumni, and fans can be proud of.”

UNT’s staff has several connections with O’Dowd, who was an assistant coach at Arizona State and Ole Miss under UNT associate head coach Rob Evans.

“I’ve known Dan for over 20 years,” Benford said. “He has a tremendous amount of coaching experience and has great recruiting connections throughout the state and internationally.”

UTSA fired head coach Brooks Thompson and his staff after last season.

O’Dowd will now try to spark a UNT program that has struggled under Benford, who has yet to post a winning season in four years at the school. UNT finished 12-20 in the 2015-16 campaign.

Benford is 54-73 at UNT and is entering the final year of his contract.

UNT returns all of its key players other than Eric Katenda and is hoping to break out this season behind a veteran cast of players, including junior forward Jeremy Combs.

UNT picks up Spencer Edwards, former 2nd round MLB pick

Spencer Edwards, a former baseball standout at Rockwall, has joined the UNT football team. (The Dallas Morning News/John F. Rhodes)

Spencer Edwards, a former baseball standout at Rockwall, has joined the UNT football team. (The Dallas Morning News/John F. Rhodes)

Spencer Edwards, a former two-sport standout at Rockwall, has joined the North Texas football team.

Edwards was selected with the 88th overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

A UNT spokesman said Wednesday night that he would be added to the roster.

Edwards played center field and hit .210 in three minor league seasons.

UNT has enjoyed great success with walk-ons in the past and will now give a top former Dallas area baseball standout a chance to play football.

UNT Wednesday practice notes

North Texas  conducted a scrimmage at the end of its workout on Wednesday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas conducted a scrimmage at the end of its workout on Wednesday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas worked out in the rain this morning at Apogee Stadium, where the Mean Green conducted a full scrimmage at the end of its session.

UNT brought in officials for the scrimmage

Alec Morris hit Tee Goree for a 65-yard touchdown pass in his first series of the day and had a solid day. UNT worked in its backup quarterbacks with its first-, second and third teams. Each had their moments.

Devin O’Hara threw an 11- yard touchdown pass to Rico Bussey to cap the workout. Mason Fine hit Tee Goree for a touchdown, while Quinn Shanbour connected with Turner Smiley for a 53-yard scoring strike.

The pecking order still appears to be Morris, O’Hara/Fine, Shanbour.

And in other news and notes …

North Texas quarterback Alec Morris talks to his offensive linemen on the sidelines during practice on Wednesday.

North Texas quarterback Alec Morris talks to his offensive linemen on the sidelines during practice on Wednesday.

– Freshman cornerback Jameel Moore continues to stand out in camp. Moore saw time with the first team. UNT should get Chad Davis back and Eric Jenkins will soon be a full go for practice after qualifying late. Those additions will make the competition tougher. Nate Brooks is also UNT’s best cornerback, but Moore looks like he has a bright future.

– Graduate transfer defensive lineman Demonte Hood is going to help this team. 

– UNT really needs to hope its starting offensive line stays healthy. The Mean Green’s second team struggled today. UNT has just one returning starting offensive lineman in Sam Rice. Offensive line coach Brad Davis was all over his second team today.

– Defensive end Jarrian Roberts continues to return to form after missing UNT’s spring game with a leg injury. He is working with the Mean Green’s first team.

– We are getting to the point in camp,where it becomes a grind for players. Special teams coordinator Tommy Perry yelled at UNT’s players to bring more energy.

– Sophomore linebacker Brandon Garner seems to come up with a big hit every practice. He had another today on running back Anthony Wyche.

– UNT’s wide receivers struggled with catching rain-soaked balls today.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday practice notes

New North Texas cornerback Eric Jenkins walks down the sideline at the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility on Tuesday..

New North Texas cornerback Eric Jenkins walks down the sideline at the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility on Tuesday..

The debut of highly regarded cornerback Eric Jenkins was the highlight of North Texas’ Tuesday afternoon practice at the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility.

Jenkins, a LA Valley College product, was one of the more highly regarded players in UNT’s 2016 recruiting class. He missed more than a week of drills while waiting to be cleared academically.

“We keep getting quality players to come in and compete,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said. “Eric is very versatile and his abilities in the return game will help us. He has quick feet and good hips. He is a quality corner.”

Jenkins will bolster an already deep secondary. Nate Brooks may be having the best camp of any UNT player. Fellow cornerback Chad Davis has missed some time, but is on his way back.

Jenkins could challenge Davis for a starting job. One area he could really help is in the return game. Jenkins fielded punts in practice and looked very fluid.

There are guys who look like they know what they are doing and are comfortable doing it in the return game.

Jenkins is one of those guys.

North Texas legend "Mean" Joe Greene watches practice on Tuesday.

North Texas legend “Mean” Joe Greene watches practice on Tuesday.

And in other news …

– UNT legend and NFL Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene addressed UNT’s players after practice.

– Defensive tackle Demonte Hood, a Kansas State graduate transfer, worked with UNT’s second-team defense.

– Alec Morris continues to play consistently well at quarterback.

– UNT is still waiting on grades for defensive back Darius Turner, who was at practice today.

– Freshman cornerback Jameel Moore made a nice play on the ball to break up a pass.

– Freshman walk-on Michael Lawrence made a terrific grab in team drills.

– Freshman quarterback Mason Fine continues to throw the ball well.

– Linebacker Brandon Garner made the hit of the day, leveling a receiver in team drills.

– LA Valley transfer Anthony Wyche continues to be impressive and broke a long touchdown run.

– Quinn Shanbour, who has fallen down the depth chart pretty quickly, saw some time in team drills.

Eric Jenkins has been cleared

Jenkins

Jenkins

Eric Jenkins, a cornerback from Los Angeles Valley Community College, has been academically cleared and will practice this afternoon, a North Texas spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

Jenkins will have to go though the NCAA’s mandated acclimation period before being a full go in workouts. He was waiting on his grades from LA Valley to post.

Jenkins is the second junior college transfer UNT signed who has been cleared since the beginning of practice.

Safety Dee Baulkman was also cleared was week.

Jenkins was considered one of UNT’s top playesr in its incoming recruiting class. He originally signed with Cincinnati.

The addition of Jenkins will further strengthen one of the deepest and most talented position groups on UNT’s roster. UNT has our starters set to return in its secondary in cornerbacks Chad Davis and Nate Brooks in addition to standout safeties Kishawn McClain and James Gray.

Jenkins was expected to push for a starting job, but is getting a late start in practice in advance of UNT’s season-opener against SMU on Sept. 3

 

UNT track venue, Fouts demolition on regents agenda

North Texas demolished a section of Fouts Field in the summer of 2013. The school's board of regents will consider tearing down the remainder of the venue and building a new track facility on the other side of Interstate 35 this week. (DRC file photo)

North Texas demolished a section of Fouts Field in the summer of 2013. The school’s board of regents will consider tearing down the remainder of the venue and building a new track facility on the other side of Interstate 35 this week. (DRC file photo)

The North Texas board of regents will consider a capital improvement plan for 2017 on Thursday that includes the demolition of the remaining half of Fouts Field and the construction of a new track venue at the school.

Both items are included on the regents agenda.

UNT’s football team gradually moved out of Fouts over the last 15 years. The Mean Green moved to the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility for workouts in 2005 and then opened Apogee Stadium — its new home field — for the 2011 season.

UNT’s track team has used one of the old football locker rooms since 2005. UNT has long wanted to move the team out of the venue to clear the way for the school to develop the large chunk of land Fouts occupies.

The property sits in a prime location near Interstate 35.

UNT demolished a large chunk of Fouts in the summer of 2013.

The school has a plan in place to build a new track venue near the Mean Green Athletic Center. UNT track coach Carl Sheffield said this summer that the school expected to break ground on the venue this fall.

The direction UNT would take on a number of issues came into question over the last few months after long-time athletic director Rick Villarreal stepped down this spring.

Wren Baker, the former interim athletic director at Missouri, will take over at UNT later this month.

UNT’s regents will vote this week on approving two key projects that would take place early in his tenure.

Tuesday morning notes (UNT-MT picked up for streaming, Hoston still in Denton)

North Texas’ game against Middle Tennessee on Oct. 1 at Apogee Stadium has been picked up for online streaming by Campus Insiders.

C-USA has said over the last few weeks that it would add internet streaming to supplement its television partnerships. The league announced a partnership with the service today.

A total of six football games are included in the agreement. Campus Insiders will also stream other C-USA games in other sports as well as feature stories.

Here is the full release. 

And in other news, JUCO defensive end Raveon Hoston posted a message on his Twitter account that he is still hoping to become eligible to play for UNT.

Hoston is in Denton, but has not been at practice.

UNT coach Seth Littrell indicated this week that Hoston isn’t expected to join the team following Saturday’s scrimmage.

We are now into the second week of fall camp. Time is running short.

Word at practice is that UNT should receive news on the JUCO grades for defensive backs Darius Turner and Eric Jenkins today.

Stay tuned.

UNT Monday practice notes (Morris, Fine shine)

North Texas defensive coordinators Mike Ekeler, right, and Troy Reffett watch UNT's linebackers run through drills on Monday.

North Texas defensive coordinators Mike Ekeler, right, and Troy Reffett watch UNT’s linebackers run through drills on Monday.

Alec Morris continued to shine during fall practice on Monday, when the Alabama transfer quarterback hit O’Keeron Rutherford and Rico Bussey Jr. for touchdown passes during team drills at the end of North Texas’ Monday morning practice session.

Morris and backup quarterback Mason Fine both led touchdown dives during team drills and had good days.

North Texas Alec Morris waits for his turn during quarterback drills during practice on Monday.

North Texas Alec Morris waits for his turn during quarterback drills during practice on Monday.

The pecking order remains pretty clear at the quarterback at this point. Morris is UNT’s starter with Devin O’Hara looking more and more like the Mean Green’s best option for a backup. Fine had a good day and is making things interesting, but he seems like a perfect candidate for a redshirt year. He is small, but fast and looks good running the ball.

O’Keeron Rutherford came up with a nice catch on a ball from Fine just before the beginning of team drills.

And in other news and notes …

– Kansas State transfer defensive tackle Demonte Hood worked out in full pads today. He is a really big guy who will be tough to move in the middle. The senior made a nice play and recorded a tackle for loss while working with the second team.

North Texas wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. walks back to the line of scrimmage during practice on Monday.

North Texas wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. walks back to the line of scrimmage during practice on Monday.

– In a bit of good news, cornerback Chad Davis was running today and appears to be on his way back. UNT coach Seth Littrell mentioned this week that he has missed some time due to injury.

– Safety Dee Baukman worked out today. He was one of UNT’s late arriving junior college players.

– Eric Jenkins and Darius Turner were at practice today, but did not work out. UNT could receive word on their grades from junior college in the next day or so.

– JUCO transfer running back Anthony Wyche continues to play well in practice.

– Sam Rice is still working on perfecting his snapping technique after moving over from guard.

– Defensive end Jarrian Roberts is seeing time with UNT’s first-team defense after recovering from the leg injury that kept him out of the Mean Green’s spring game.

– Cornerback Nate Brooks intercepted a pass in team drills and continues to have a really good camp.

– Defensive end TIllman Johnson shot through the line and recorded a tackle for loss in team drills.