UNT recruiting target series — Patrick Taylor Jr.

Taylor

Taylor

Patrick Taylor Jr. made a big impact for Humble Atascocita as a junior last season, rolling up 800 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

The decision Taylor makes in the next few months will determine if he will continue to carry the ball on the college level as a running back or spend his time chasing them.

UNT is among more than a half dozen teams recruiting Taylor, but is the lone program that is recruiting him as a linebacker. Colorado has offered Taylor as an athlete, while Colorado State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nevada, Texas State, UTSA and Nicholls State have all offered him as a running back.

UNT extended its scholarship offer to Taylor after he attended the Mean Green’s summer satellite camp in Katy.

The number of opportunities that have come Taylor’s way have prompted him to consider what is important to him in terms of his college future. The position he will play is just one part of the equation.

“Academics, how I fit into the scheme, playing time, the coaches and the team are important because they will be my family while I am away from home,” Taylor said. “I want to consider what I want to do and see what the best fit is for me.”

Taylor, who is 6-2, 210, has the size and athleticism that will allow him to help a team at a variety of spots on the field. He was a first-team All-District 16-6A selection as a running back last season. Here are his Hudl highlights.

UNT defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, one of the Mean Green’s most productive assistants in terms of recruiting, is heading up their efforts with Taylor and has already started selling him on the idea of playing linebacker in college.

“The coaches compare me to a guy they had who played running in high school, moved linebacker in college and went on to play in the NFL,” said Taylor, who couldn’t recall the name of the player. “I am open to doing that in college if it gets me on the field.”

Taylor has official visits lined up to Colorado and ULL in July with a trip to Nevada to follow in October. Taylor hasn’t visited UNT yet and doesn’t have a trip scheduled, but is trying to set one up for this fall.

Taylor will make a decision once he has a handle on where he would best fit in.

“I want to go where I am wanted and where I want to be,” Taylor said. “I plan on making a decision in October.”

UNT recruiting target series:
WR Kofi Boateng, Arlington Lamar
CB Ivan King, Snow College
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village
OL Jace Webb, Hollis, Oklahoma, High

And that’s how the story ends — Willy Kouassi to Arkansas

One of the intriguing stories of the offseason as far as UNT basketball goes was the Mean Green’s efforts to rebuild in the paint following the graduation of Colin Voss and Armani Flannigan, not to mention the departure of Muhammed Ahmed.

Well-traveled fifth-year senior Willy Kouassi visited UNT and was among the Mean Green’s targets. He ended up committing to Arkansas today.

UNT came out fine in the end with JUCO center Mike Thomas and prep school forward Khalil Fuller to go along with early commit Rickey Brice, but it is interesting to see where the players the Mean Green were in on end up.

Kouassi really blew up late and ended up back in the SEC. He started at Auburn and then spent time at Kennesaw State, where he graduated.

The best Dan McCarney quotes of the offseason, including his appeal for more fans

North Texas football coach Dan McCarney had some memorable things to say this offseason. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas football coach Dan McCarney had some memorable things to say this offseason. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas coach Dan McCarney had some memorable things to say this offseason following a tough 4-8 campaign. Here’s a look back …

Following UNT’s spring game …

“I like being around this team. I have been saying it all winter and spring long. There is a real renewed commitment to excellence. We want to get back to winning. No matter how tough the schedule is or where we play or who we play, let’s find a way to win games in the fall.”

– From an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle/The Dallas Morning News

Following a coaches caravan tour stop in Gainesville …

“These people are great. We know we have phenomenal people behind us. This is a step in the right direction to expand our fan base. We have to expand. We can’t stay where we are at. The fans we have are phenomenal. It has to grow if we want to compete for championships in every sport. This is the grass roots and what it’s all about.”

– From an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle

Following the final workout of spring practice when UNT had finished implementing a new defensive system under new coordinator Chris Cosh and increasing the tempo it is playing at offensively …

“It really did work out. We don’t take that for granted just because guys come out here and work hard. In the end, what are the results? What improvement did we make? What questions remain? How far did we go as far as learning the concepts defensively? Did we really come out of it this spring being able to run more plays and run them efficiently? I would say yes to all those things.”

– From an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle

This summer following a satellite camp in Tyler while talking about what UNT offers recruits …

“Can they win? Yes,” McCarney said. “Can they play in front of great crowds? Yes. Can they be on television? Yes. Can they go to bowl games? Yes. We have a track record of this stuff. It is not phony or pretend. It is real.”

– From an interview with KLTV in Tyler

Benford sees Shelton as a home run hire, hoops tidbits

Benford

Benford

UNT men’s basketball coach Tony Benford recently rounded out his coaching staff with the addition of director of operations Todd Shelton.

We touched on Shelton joining the staff briefly earlier today.

Here’s a link to the story that will be in tomorrow’s paper, where I had some time/space to delve a little more into Shelton’s background.

The interesting aspect of the story is Shelton has some ties to UNT, mostly from Johnny Jones’ tenure with the Mean Green. Shelton drove up to Denton to ask in person if he could work one of Jones’ camps after he finished his playing career at Texas Wesleyan.

Shelton also nearly took a grad assistant job at UNT before St. John’s came calling and offered to pay his tuition.

Shelton’s brother Terry Shelton played at UNT during the Mean Green’s four-year run run as Sun Belt Conference champions from 2001-04. He didn’t play a lot, but he is in some of the old media guides in my files.

Terry Shelton has a bowl ring from his days at UNT and was teammates with the late Andrew Smith, which would also have made him teammates with other Mean Green greats, including Patrick Cobbs and Scott Hall.

Shelton also has ties to UNT’s current staff. Benford has known Shelton for years. So has pretty much everyone else in the DFW high school/AAU basketball circuit. That was another key selling point for UNT when it came to Shelton, who coached at Haltom and a couple of Fort Worth schools.

Benford and his staff have started to develop a better pipeline to the Dallas area in terms of recruiting the last couple of years, landing Jeremy Combs and now Rickey Brice. Shelton should help in that regard.

Be sure to check out the story.

And while we are talking hoops, a couple of other tidbits of note …

– Allante Holston, UNT’s small forward signee out of Orlando West Oaks Academy, is on campus and in summer school.

– UNT’s entire roster will be on campus in July.

– Jeremy Combs is also working out on campus at the moment. He’s working to extend his shooting range and improve his free-throw shooting. Combs struggled a little at the line last season. UNT will need him to improve after it lost leading scorer Jordan Williams, not to mention another solid offensive forward in Colin Voss, who was a fantastic at the stripe. Both Williams and Voss were seniors last season.

Wednesday notes (Todd Shelton officially with UNT men’s hoops, et cetera)

North Texas men's basketball coach Tony Benford has hired Todd Shelton as his director of basketball operations.

North Texas men’s basketball coach Tony Benford has hired Todd Shelton as his director of basketball operations.

I am still getting back into the swing of things and running down a few items of interest that came up while I was out of town. There is always that break before the big push to get our annual football magazine done.

– First off, Todd Shelton, the former coach at Haltom, has officially joined the UNT men’s basketball team’s coaching staff as its director of operations. He has some interesting UNT ties that I will get into in the paper tomorrow and the blog later tonight.

– The UNT football team’s game at SMU will be played at 6 p.m. The game time was announced today. UNT’s season-opener will be played on Sept. 12. Night games are always better when it comes to those played early in the season when it can still be brutally hot out.

UNT recruiting target series — DeShun Qualls

DeShun Qualls has made quite a name for himself as a quarterback for Jersey Village over the last two years.

Qualls was a second-team all-district selection as a junior. His sophomore season was just as productive and ended with Qualls being named his district’s newcomer of the year in addition to being a first-team all-district selection. Here are his Hudl highlights.

If Qualls was 6-5, or even 6-2, he would be a highly sought after college quarterback prospect. Since he’s only 5-10 and 160 pounds, Qualls is looking at other options for his college career, including a move to wide receiver.

UNT is among the schools that is willing to offer him that opportunity. The Mean Green offered Qualls a scholarship during its summer satellite camp tour.

“North Texas offered me as athlete,” Qualls said. “They think my best position in college is wide receiver.”

New Mexico State and Abilene Christian have also offered Qualls who is being recruited by UNT safeties coach Perry Carter.

Qualls is expected to return to UNT for one of its events for priority prospects this week. He’s already been to UNT’s campus.

“I came up right after the football season in December for junior day,” Qualls said. “North Texas has been recruiting me for a while.”

Qualls is planning to commit to a school in August before the beginning of his senior season and has already considered what the key factors will be in his decision.

Qualls wants to major in forensic science. UNT has a program.

“I like UNT and have been up there,” Qualls said. “I like everything I have seen.”

UNT recruiting target series:
CB Ivan King, Snow College
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak
WR Kofi Boateng, Arlington Lamar
OL Jace Webb, Hollis, Oklahoma, High

UNT recruiting target series — Jace Webb

Hollis, Oklahoma, standout Jace Webb is among the offensive linemen North Texas has offered in the Class of 2016.

Hollis, Oklahoma, standout Jace Webb is among the offensive linemen North Texas has offered in the Class of 2016.

There is often a stereotype when it comes to college offensive line prospects from rural parts of the country.

Jace Webb fits several of them.

The Hollis, Oklahoma, guard has lived on a farm all his life and helps his family raise cattle. Webb has grown into FBS prospect along the way, one UNT has interest in. UNT’s coaches talked to the staff at Hollis, a small Oklahoma town southwest of Oklahoma City, recently and informed them that they were set to offer Webb.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound guard had yet to talk to UNT’s coaches as of a few days ago, but has started considering what he is looking for in a college program.

“I am looking for good academics, a good football team and just a good all-around school where I can get a good education,” Webb said.

Webb will have plenty of options when it comes time to choose a school after earning first-team all-district honors last season. Army, Ohio, Wyoming, Tulsa and Louisville have all offered, along with UNT.

Webb projects as a guard in college. Here are his Hudl highlights.

“I’m going to try to wait it out and see if a Big 12 school will come in and offer,” Webb said. “I have a lot of good offers now. It’s a blessing.”

Webb said he would like to stay close to Hollis, but wouldn’t mind going to college in a bigger city like Denton.

Other factors will play a bigger role than location.

“I want to go somewhere I can play right away,” Webb said.

UNT could end up being that place, depending on what Webb finds out about the school and program and how much interest the Mean Green’s staff shows in the small school standout.

UNT recruiting target series:
CB Ivan King, Snow College
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak
WR Kofi Boateng, Arlington Lamar

 

UNT recruiting target series — Kofi Boateng

Kofi Boateng became a popular man in the world of college football recruiting back in December of 2014.

College offers started to arrive about that time for the Arlington Lamar wide receiver. At last count, the 6-1, 177-pound standout had 28 offers from programs that rank among the national elite like Ole Miss and TCU and in-state programs like Texas Tech and Houston.

UNT has entered the race as well.

“A lot of the offers came a lot from January to March,” Boateng said. “It’s been exciting.”

The number of opportunities Boateng has received has also prompted him to consider what is important to him in terms selecting the college where he will continue his career.

“First off, I’m looking for a good education,” Boateng said. I’m also looking for a good atmosphere with the coaches. I want to see that I can be there for three or four years.”

UNT cornerbacks coach LaMarcus Hicks is recruiting Boateng and was up front with him from the start.

“He said that North Texas was interested and that they knew that I have a long offer list, but they were going to offer anyway,” Boateng said.

Boateng was an All-District 4-6A selection and an honorable mention All-Class 6A all-state selection last season. He caught 66 passes for 1,023 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. Here are his Hudl highlights.

“To me it’s about whether I can see myself there and if the coaches can develop me to go to the league,” Boateng said of the NFL.

Right now, Ole Miss sits atop Boateng’s Top 10 list that does not include UNT.

“Ole Miss is my leader,” Boateng said. “They are the team to beat right now.”

UNT recruiting target series:
CB Ivan King, Snow College
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village
CB Nygel King, Klein Oak

UNT recruiting target series — Nygel King

Nygel King is going to see a whole lot of college campuses by the end of the summer.

The Klein Oak cornerback is set to visit Louisiana-Lafayette, SMU, Utah, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, and possibly UNT by this fall.

The Mean Green offered King, who is 6-1 and 175 pounds, a scholarship this spring and are in the race to land him, along with the schools he is visiting. Texas State has also offered a scholarship.

UNT’s safeties coach Perry Carter is recruiting King. Here are his Hudl highlights.

“I am looking for a family oriented school in a good place to live,” King said.

Academics are also important to King.

“I see how important academics are,” King said. “I want to buckle down. I know that education can get you far in life.”

UNT has consistently ranked among the top performing football teams in Conference USA when it comes to academics. That could bode well for UNT in its pursuit of King, who is trying to make a decision by the end of what will be a busy summer.

UNT recruiting target series:
CB Ivan King, Snow College
ATH DeShun Qualls, Jersey Village

Projecting UNT’s starting defensive lineup

Cornerback Kenny Buyers will be among North Texas' top returning defensive players in the fall when he will anchor a rebuilt secondary. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

Cornerback Kenny Buyers will be among North Texas’ top returning defensive players in the fall when he will anchor a rebuilt secondary. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas took a step back defensively last season and will have to rebuild on that side of the ball in 2015, both on the field and the sideline. John Skladany, a long time college defensive coordinator who spent a large chunk of his career serving as UNT head coach Dan McCarney’s right-hand man retired at the end of last season.

UNT will also have to replace its best defensive player in All-Conference USA linebacker Derek Akunne and three of its four starters in the secondary.

That won’t be an easy task after UNT allowed 27.2 points a game last season, up from 17.8 in 2013 when UNT ranked among the nation’s most productive defensive teams. Here’s a look at UNT’s projected lineup:

DE: Chad Polk. The senior is tiny by major college standards for a defensive end at 6-0, 231, but the Mean Green didn’t have a more productive defensive lineman last season. Polk led the Mean Green with 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. UNT will use a host of defensive linemen, but Polk should get the starting nod.

DT: Austin Orr. The senior moved into the starting lineup late last season when Alexander Lincoln went down with an injury in his final year with the Mean Green. Orr has good size at 6-4, 277, and should be at the top of a deep rotation.

DT: Sir Calvin Wallace. The big 296-pound tackle is a run-stopping plug in the middle of UNT’s defensive front and could provide leadership for a group of young tackles the Mean Green are hoping to develop quickly.

DE: Jareid Combs. UNT went all the way to Iowa Central Community College to land Combs, who finished with 17 sacks last season. He won’t arrive at UNT until this fall, but once he gets to town, he should quickly earn a starting job in a rotation that will also include Jarrian Roberts and Tillman Johnson.

MLB: Blake Bean. UNT shuffled its linebacker lineup during spring practice to account for the loss of Akunne. When it was all said and done, Bean was a starter in the middle entering his first season after transferring from Buffalo.

OLB: Cortney Finney. The Trinity Valley Community College standout was the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year last season and was arguably the star of UNT’s spring game. Finney finished with 10.5 tackles, prompting McCarney to predict he would end up a starter by the time UNT opens the season.

OLB: Calvin Minor. The athletic sophomore came on toward the end of last  season and started the last three games. Minor will split time with Sed Ellis, but should end up earning the starting nod.

CB: Kenny Buyers. UNT will count on the lone returning starter in its secondary to help it recover from the loss of several key contributors. Buyers is a terrific tackler. No returning UNT player had more than the 55 stops Buyers posted last season.

CB: Jamal Marshall. In what seemed like an odd move at the time, Marshall moved from outside linebacker to cornerback in spring practice. Marshall was a cornerback in high school, but struggled with the nuances of the position when he first arrived at UNT and at 6-2 looked like a potential linebacker. Marshall made the move early in his career and started three games last season at outside linebacker. He asked to move back to cornerback in spring practice and thrived once he returned to his roots. Marshall will have to hold off Chad Davis in the fall, but has a good chance to start.

SS: James Gray. UNT signed Gray out of Fort Scott Community College in Kansas in the hope that he could contribute right away. He is listed second on the depth chart at free safety heading into the fall, but will likely move into the starting lineup at strong safety by the time the season starts.

FS: Kishawn McClain. The former Rosenburg Terry standout was one of UNT’s top freshmen last season, when he started three games while senior Sheldon Wade was out with a shoulder injury. McClain finished with 39 tackles and seems destined to take over as a full-time starter this fall.

P: Eric Keena/Blake Macek. The pair split time last season and will likely do so again this year.