UNT pro day tidbits, including some performances

Nearly a dozen pro football scouts attended the North Texas football team's pro day on Thursday at Apogee Stadium.

Nearly a dozen pro football scouts attended the North Texas football team’s pro day on Thursday at Apogee Stadium.

Nearly a dozen pro football scouts, including representatives from the Cowboys, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets came to UNT’s pro day this morning to get a look at the Mean Green’s top draft prospects.

It depends on the year in terms of what I am able to run down as far as unofficial results. Unfortunately, the scouts who came by this year went inside to a room set aside for them this year to exchange information on 40-yard dash times since it was cold out.

Here is what I came up with …

OL Cyril Lemon — 14 bench reps, 30 inch vertical leap, 8-4 broad jump

LB Derek Akunne — 19 bench reps, 35 1/2 vertical leap, 4.6 40-yard dash

OL Antonio Johsnon — five bench reps, 22 inch vertical leap, 8-2 broad jump

DB Sheldon Wade — 12 bench reps, 37 1/2 inch vertical leap, 10-6 broad jump

DB James Jones — three bench reps, 30 1/2 vertical leap, 9-6 broad jump

RB Reggie Peagram — 14 bench reps, 26 1/2 vertical leap, 8-2 broad jump

DE Daryl Mason — 11 bench reps, 27 1/2 vertical leap, 9-6 broad jump, 4.7 40-yard dash

The player who probably helped himself the most today was Akunne, who put up a good 40-yard dash time for a linebacker.

Only three outside linebackers ran in the 4.5s at the combine. All but two of the outside linebackers at the combine put up more than 19 bench reps, but three players finished with 20, so Akunne wasn’t way out of the range in comparison to the players in the combine.

UNT’s top prospect is probably offensive lineman Cyril Lemon. He looked good in position drills and moved well.

His broad and vertical jumps were in line with the players at the combine. I would love to know what his times were in the three-cone drill and shuttle runs that measure quickness in space. Lemon did have a tough go of it on the bench press, though, where he posted 14 reps.

A total of 10 guards competed in the bench at the combine and all of them posted at least 20 reps. Lemon said he has had better days on the bench.

Lemon is a terrific player and a great guy. You just hate it for him that he didn’t shine all the way around on pro day. He’s already a little on the short side and played at a school outside the Power 5 conferences. Nailing his pro day across the board would have really helped his cause. You just hope he did enough to work his way into the draft.

Johnson also probably hurt himself a little by posting only five bench reps. The lowest total among the 23 tackles at the combine was 16.

There is no doubt that UNT will have several players find there way into NFL camps. Craig Robertson, Patrick Cobbs and Zach Orr all made it in the NFL as free agents. Orr came to pro day to watch his former teammates.

UNT is hoping that not all of its players have to go that route this year. The Mean Green haven’t had a player drafted since linebacker Cody Spencer back in 2004. It would really help UNT to break that drought.

Wednesday night notes

North Texas softball coach Tracey Kee talks to her team during an 8-5 loss to No. 13 Baylor on Wednesday at Apogee Stadium. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas softball coach Tracey Kee talks to her team during an 8-5 loss to No. 13 Baylor on Wednesday at Apogee Stadium. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT hosted a couple of events events on Wednesday.

The Mean Green softball team took on No. 13 Baylor, a team UNT beat 1-0 earlier in the season, and lost 8-5 in the rematch.

UNT fell behind early before Kat Strunk whacked a three-run home run to tie the game up at 3-3. Baylor came back with five runs and then held off the Mean Green in the seventh inning.

It was a tough loss, but it’s important to remember UNT had won seven straight heading into the day.

UNT will host Western Kentucky this weekend in a vital Conference USA series. The Mean Green are 6-3 in conference play and 14-15 overall.

The UNT tennis team was also at home and beat UAB 5-2. The Mean Green are 5-10 on the season, but have played a tough schedule and are 1-1 in conference play.

UNT tends to play well late in the season and are looking to get on a roll late heading into the C-USA tournament.

MGB video: Dan McCarney talks about where UNT stands in spring

North Texas coach Dan McCarney took a minute or two to talk with me yesterday after the first workout in pads about where the Mean Green are at in the opening stages of spring practice.

We hit on a few topics, including the quarterback race, some of the players who have caught his eye early on and the Mean Green’s approach this spring.

Tuesday night coach search update

UNT has reached the point in its search for a new women’s basketball coach that it has identified the candidates it would like to speak with and found out what coaches out there are interested in the job.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said that has been a great amount of interest in the job. He’s getting 15 to 20 calls/e-mails a day from coaches who are interested and another 15 to 20 from people pushing candidates.

Villarreal would not identify the number of candidates UNT has decided it wants to talk with. It could be just one. It could be three, or even more than that.

At this point, UNT is trying to work around the schedules of the party or parties involved to get people to campus.

Once UNT gets that coach and or coaches to campus, it will be a matter of settling on the right fit for the job.

We have pointed to some of the issues UNT has endured in women’s basketball over the last few years. The Mean Green have gone through four coaches during nine losing seasons. The way the roster sets up makes for a long rebuild. Both of the Mean Green’s top players from a 5-24 team gone in BreAnna Dawkins and Briesha Wynn.

At the same time, it’s also important to note that there is a lot to like about the job. UNT has a good home venue in the Super Pit, a new basketball practice facility and a great location in one of the top talent bases for girls basketball in the country.

There is also the benefit of taking over when a program has reached a low point. This isn’t like a few years ago when UNT was looking for a men’s basketball coach after Johnny Jones left for LSU after six straight seasons with at least 18 wins, five 20-win seasons and two NCAA bids.

Winning 10 games next season would look like huge progress.

Don’t think there isn’t something to be said for that.

Tuesday practice wrap (four in the mix at QB)

UNT went through its first workout in pads this spring today. We had a live blog rolling, although I did duck out a couple of times so make sure I was able to grab a quote in advance of tomorrow’s UNT-Baylor softball rematch (see tomorrow’s notebook in the paper for more).

What I was able to do after practice is run down a bit of a status report on the UNT quarterback situation, which I will go into depth a little more in the paper later this week.

The key points …

– Andrew McNulty is the No. 1 quarterback. Head coach Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator Mike Canales both said that is the case.

– Right now, Josh Greer is working with the second team. Connor Means and Dajon Williams are also in the mix. And that’s it. There are four players in the race. Canales said that he is changing the depth chart every day based on performance. Dajon will rise after today’s workout because he performed well.

“If they turn the ball over, I’ll move them down,” Canales said. “There are no excuses.”

– Canales likes Means’ potential. The redshirt freshman has the size and arm strength UNT’s coaches are looking for in a quarterback. Means is going to get a shot to win the job this spring. Even if he doesn’t win it this time around, it looks like he will have his chance somewhere down the line.

– UNT is going to look to cut the quarterback field down to a couple of guys heading into the fall, largely because Canales and McCarney want to be sure they get a good look at DaMarcus Smith. UNT spent a midterm scholarship on Smith and likes his potential. Canales said it’s disappointing that Smith is ineligible to participate in spring ball and that it will hurt his chances, but UNT still has to find out what Smith can do.

– UNT is moving to more of a fast-paced offense that will be simplified from last season. The idea is to give UNT’s quarterbacks less to think about and allow them to go and play the game. That should help Williams, who UNT has always liked from the standpoint of his raw athletic ability.

– Canales also credited his quarterbacks’ work ethic in the offseason and the guidance of new strength coach Lewis Caralla for helping them all improve physically. McNulty has improved in terms of his arm strength. I met Caralla’s wife and young son today. The little guy is an highly energetic dude who was on the move all afternoon. Must run in the family.

And while this is not directly related to the quarterback race, Kevin Dillman, the former Guyer standout who signed with UNT in its last recruiting class, was at practice.

McCarney introduced Dillman to the team. I was too far up in the stands to hear all that was said, but it ended with Dillman talking about being at tight end.

A chorus of cheers went up.

For those of you hoping for this to change course, I don’t see it. McCarney is on record saying that Dillman is a tight end all the way. Dillman’s high school coach and noted quarterback guru John Walsh is on record saying Dillman is a tight end on the college level. And Dillman is on the record saying he is playing tight end on the college level.

It seems, at this point, there is a pretty good chance he’s going to be a tight end on the college level.

Tuesday spring practice running blog

It’s a beautiful day here at Apogee Stadium, where UNT is going through its first workout in pads of spring practice.

This is the first edition of the spring practice running blog. We have been tied up with basketball up until now. There are a ton of key questions UNT will look to address this spring, from the quarterback battle (the Mean Green are still trying to adequately replace Derek Thompson) to rebuilding an offensive line that lost several cornerstone players, including Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo.

UNT also has a new defensive coordinator in Chris Cosh. The Mean Green are running through the circle drill at the moment. There is an SMU helmet that is being flashed around as a motivational prop. Don’t think for a minute that UNT isn’t pointing to that game and its season-opener as a huge one for the program.

Stay tuned. I will update the blog all day.

3:55 — UNT is going through individual drills. The first quarterbacks up throughout the day have been Andrew McNulty, Josh Greer, Dajon Williams, Connor Means and Sam Wells. It’s just drills, but there seems to be a bit of a pecking order, at least at the top. Former Guyer standout Kevin Dillman is hanging around at practice today. He is expected to settle in at tight end at UNT. He certainly looks the part.

3:57 — Before anyone asks, Quinn Shabour and Caleb Chumley are working on special teams at the moment while the rest of UNT’s quarterbacks go through drills

4:06 — UNT’s secondary starters in drills today were: Kenny Buyers and Jamal Marshall with James Gray and Kishawn McClain. It was just in a drill, so I don’t know how much I would read into that lineup, although I would be surprised if Buyers, Gray and McClain don’t play a whole lot back there. Marshall is making the move from linebacker.

4:31 — I took a minute out to talk to Rick Villarreal a little bit about the search for a new women’s basketball coach. More on that later. As far as where we are at with practice, we are getting closer to team drills, where we will be able to see more.Offensive lineman Michael Banogu had a good turn through individual drills. Wide receiver O’Keeron Rutherford certainly looks the part.

4:41 — And first up for UNT at quarterback in 11-on-11 drills is once again Andrew McNulty, followed by Josh Greer. Defensive tackle T.J. Tauaalo made a nice play for a tackle for loss.

5:13 — I had to run across the street real quick, but I’m back. Just as I rolled in, Caleb Chumley missed on a short ball. Josh Greer just overthrew a pass over the middle.

5:15 — Jamal Marshall looks like he has dropped a ton of weight to prepare for the move to cornerback.

5:16 — Dajon just hit a deep ball on a busted coverage in a drill with only the wide receivers and defensive backs on the field.

5:19 — Andrew McNulty hits Marcus Smith for a first down on his first play of a scrimmage to end practice.

5:20 — Jeffrey Wilson had a nice run to the outside followed by a McNulty pass to Turner Smiley over the middle. That was a nice grab by Smiley.

5:22 — Darvin Kidsy caught a ball over the middle on the last play of McNulty’s series. That was a nice showing for McNulty right there.

5:24 — Josh Greer is up second in this practice-ending scrimmage.

5:26 — Mustafa Haboul made a nice play to post a tackle right at the line of scrimmage with the second team

5:27 — Connor Means is up with the third team offense.

5:28 — Andrew McNulty is back out with the first team. It looks like we have a clear three-player pecking order at quarterback of McNulty, Greer and Means, which is what I expected.

5:30 — Rex Rollins is seeing some time at running back with the first-team offense.

5:32 — And we have a Dajon Williams sighting in today’s scrimmage.

5:33 — Antoinne Jimmerson just broke free through the middle on a good run.

5:35 — We are back to UNT’s starters. Michael Banogu, Micah Thompson, Connor Trussell and Kaydon Kirby at on UNT’s offensive line.

5:38 — Connor Means is in with the second team at quarterback.

6:00 — I had to run across the street to softball practice. Andrew Tucker just had a pretty good carry with the second-team offense. Josh Greer is in at the moment.

6:01 — Daniel Kahn just caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone on a ball from Josh Greer. That was a good throw and a nice job of Kahn to get his foot down.

6:03 — Josh Greer with a quarterback draw for a touchdown. And that looks like it. I will be back later.

Tuesday afternoon tidbits

Lemon

Lemon

I am going to head out to UNT’s afternoon spring football practice to do a little live blogging.

Get your refresh, trigger finger ready, but until then, here are a couple of Tuesday afternoon tidbits.

– I haven’t mentioned it recently, but UNT’s Pro Day is coming up on Thursday. UNT has a few players who will get a gander from NFL scouts. Offensive lineman Cyril Lemon is probably UNT’s top prospect. UNT hasn’t had a player drafted since linebacker Cody Spencer back in 2004.

– This is just a gut feeling, but after talking with a couple of more people it seems more and more likely that UNT will give serious consideration to hiring Texas assistant and UNT Hall of Famer Jalie Mitchell to take over its women’s basketball program.

– We are also into the time of the year when the transfer market is flooded in college basketball. I bring it up because UNT has a couple of scholarships open as we head toward the late signing period. Iakeem Alston, a Sheridan (Wyoming) Community College product UNT was involved with a while back is leaving St. Bonaventure. He’s just another name to keep in mind. Here is the full transfer list as it stands from Verbal Commitments.

Cleaning out the notebook (recruiting expense study, Flannigan back in Texas, et cetera)

Cornerback James Jones was one of North Texas’ most productive signess in 2013, when the school spent $145,280 on recruiting expenses, according to a USA Today survey. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Cornerback James Jones was one of North Texas’ most productive signess in 2013, when the school spent $145,280 on recruiting expenses, according to a USA Today survey. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT’s search for a new women’s basketball coach has dominated the news cycle for the last couple of days.

UNT is still examining its options as of late this afternoon. Here’s our update from earlier today. 

While we wait for white smoke to rise from the athletic department, here are a couple of other items of interest that we have been holding on to the last few days.

First off, USA Today came out with its annual rundown of what each school in the country spent on football recruiting for the 2012-13 school year. What schools spend is always interesting, especially when you compare them.

UNT had the lowest overall expenses in comparison to other Conference USA schools, which makes a lot of sense when one thinks about it. UNT heavily recruits the immediate area that is one of the best in the country when it comes to talent. The Mean Green land a big chunk of their recruits from within driving distance.

Marshall and Middle Tennessee spend a lot of time in Florida and rack up the travel expenses flying back and forth.

Here’s a look.

C-USA school Recruiting expenses
1. Old Dominion $241,647
2. Middle Tennessee $237,383
3. Marshall $226,348
4. UTSA $207,577
5. Florida Atlantic $206,011
6. Western Kentucky $186,044
7. Southern Miss $164,436
8. Florida International $160,280
9. Louisiana Tech $154,951
10. UTEP $155,922
11. North Texas $145,280

And in other football news, Ramon Flannigan is back in Texas. UNT’s former offensive coordinator and one of the key figures in the Miracle Bowl Run of 2001-04 when the Mean Green went to four straight bowls while playing in Fouts Field, is now the quarterbacks coach at Lamar. 

We are also getting into that part of the spring when publications begin looking ahead to next football season. I bring it up because there was a pretty detailed look at Tennessee that came out this week.

UNT plays the Volunteers on the road on Nov. 14 in one of its two body bag/opportunity games. The Mean Green also play at Iowa.

And finally, Dickey Nutt, the longtime coach at Arkansas State, has been let go at Southeast Missouri State. UNT and ASU had some epic battles in his tenure with the Red Wolves.

 

Monday morning UNT search update

UNT’s search for a new women’s basketball coach continued Monday.

Here are a couple of quick tidbits.

– Swish Appeal, an SB Nation site that covers college basketball, is reporting that Edwina Brown, an assistant coach at TCU, will interview for the job. UNT has not spoken with her yet, but she is another person who would make sense. She has been an assistant at New Mexico, Texas and now TCU.

Stetson coach Lynn Bria is in the offseason after her team lost in the WNIT to Richmond. Bria interviewed for the UNT job the last time it came open. UNT officials have not reached out to Stetson officials to ask for permission/inform them that they would like to talk with Bria as of this morning. Stetson officials said Monday morning that they anticipate that UNT will reach out to them in the next few days.

– Texas won again last night, beating Cal 73-70. That extends the Longhorns season another week and keeps UNT Hall of Famer and Texas assistant Jalie Mitchell off the market a little longer. Mitchell is another person who UNT appears to be interested in talking to.

– Former Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson was another name that came up from within the coaching community as someone UNT might look at. It does not appear that Henrickson is in the mix for the job

Sunday night notes (Texas/Mitchell in action, softball wins again)

Wade

Wade

The Texas women’s basketball team is in action tonight against California. Former UNT coach Karen Aston is looking to lead the Longhorns to the Sweet 16.

That would be of interest to UNT supporters considering there are a few who still follow along with Aston. UNT’s former coach still has a lot of fans in Denton.

What makes it all the more interesting is that Aston’s assistant and UNT Hall of Famer Jalie Mitchell seems like a logical target for the Mean Green’s opening for a head  coach. I expect her to at least get a call to gauge her interest after Texas is done for the season, whenever that is.

And in other news, the UNT softball team completed a weekend sweep of Florida International with a 4-0 win on Sunday and has now won seven straight. UNT is 6-3 in Conference USA play.

Bryana Wade  hit a big home run for UNT.

The Mean Green will face Baylor again on Wednesday. The Mean Green pulled off the upset earlier this season. Baylor will be out for revenge.

That one sets up to be an interesting showdown.