MGB video: McCarney talks spring game, Is this UNT’s deepest batch of backs ever?

The video at the top of this blog is of Dan McCarney and I chatting a little about the spring game and how spring practice went in general for the Mean Green. McCarney has some interesting things to say, as always.

And while we are at it, I’m going to break one of my unwritten rules and allow myself to be drug into a ridiculous debate after being called out for not agreeing with a reader’s opinion on a topic that really doesn’t matter in the large scheme of things.

The topic? Is this the deepest batch of running backs UNT has ever had going into the 2014 season?

First off, I really like UNT’s running backs. Antoinne Jimmerson is a dynamic player and should really shine. Erick Evans has been a great find and UNT will only be deeper when Reggie Pegram comes back from knee injury he suffered last season.

UNT is deep and talented, but there is no way this is deep as the Mean Green has been. It’s not even close.

Let’s look at what UNT has this season:
Antoinne Jimmerson, 446 rushing yards in 2013 as a backup, 990 yards in two-year career, no starts
Reggie Pegram, 338 rushing yards at UNT in 2013, 116 yards in two seasons at Purdue, no starts at UNT, coming off a major knee injury
Rex Rollins, 92 rushing yards at UNT in 2013, spent time working as a defensive back, no starts at UNT, missed the spring due to injury
Mark Lewis, 63 rushing yards as a backup on 18 carries in 2013, no starts at UNT
Erick Evans, never played a down at UNT, walked on and has suddenly shot up to second string behind Jimmerson in the spring
Andrew Tucker, converted safety, no carries at UNT
Jamaine Wilhite, never played

Again, I like the group. Let’s compare it to what UNT had heading into 2004:

Patrick Cobbs, 2003 national rushing champion with 1,680 yards, 2,840 career rushing yards heading into the season
Jamario Thomas, freshman ranked No. 21 among high school running backs nationally, would go on to win the national rushing title as a freshman
James Mitchell, career backup who came into the season off a 46-yard year in 2003, went on to rush for 274 yards in his career, including 166 against Arkansas State in the 2004 season when Cobbs and Thomas were out
Kevin Moore, backup who rushed for 408 yards in his career and entered the 2004 season off a 267-yard season in 2003
Thomas Pratt, ranked No. 52 on the Dallas Morning News Area Top 100. Left the program when he realized he would never play because of all the talent in front of him.

What do we have? UNT’s running backs head into the 2014 season with 1,599 career rushing yards and no starts. Two of the guys who are expected to contribute — Pegram and Rollins — missed all of spring practice and there is some doubt to how healthy Pegram will be at the beginning of next season after suffering a major knee injury late last year. Rollins has minimal practice time at running back after spending time working out at defensive back. Lewis played a little last season, while Evans, Tucker and Wilhite have never played for UNT.

In 2004, UNT had a returning national rushing champion in Cobbs, who had more yards in 2003 than the Mean Green’s entire running back roster for 2014 combined in their entire careers. UNT also had arguably the most highly regarded player to sign with the Mean Green in the ratings era in Thomas arriving and two backups who had played in Mitchell and Moore. It also had Pratt heading into the season.

One could make the argument that we won’t know for sure until the end of the season how it all plays out, but the bar is set pretty high up there.

In 2004, UNT lost a national rushing champion in Cobbs to injury. Meh, UNT rolled out Thomas. He won another rushing title. When Thomas got hurt late in the year, meh, UNT rolled out Mitchell and watched him go for 166 against Arkansas State. Kevin Moore also rushed for 141 yards that season.

UNT became the only team in college football history to have two returning national rushing champions in 2005 because of the remarkable depth it had in 2004.

UNT has four guys who have played heading into next season, none of whom have started, two of them coming off injuries.

UNT has the potential to be deep and productive at running back, but saying it’s the Mean Green’s deepest group ever based on what one sees in spring practice is a huge stretch at this point. That is what they call wishing and hoping. There is a big difference between that and looking at what history tells us about what UNT has now and the performances of the past that set the bar for the program.

Spring game thoughts (video coming)

UNT quarterback Josh Greer throws a pass during the Green-White spring game on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. Greer, who is competing with Andrew McNulty for the starting job, thew for 152 yards. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT went through its annual spring game today over at Apogee Stadium, where the White edged the Green 35-31 in front of 5,235.

As with any spring game, there were good signs and things that UNT probably wished would have gone differently (better).

The big battle of the spring was at quarterback. Coach Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator Mike Canales both said UNT came out of the spring without a starter.

Part of what McCarney had to say will be a talker:

“We have a really good example of how we can win last year with Derek Thompson, who not a lot of people said positive things about. All he did was lead us to a bowl championship. This time last year he didn’t look like Fran Tarkenton or Brett Favre. I want all these guys to keep the edge, never be satisfied and find a way to go have a really good season.”

Interpretation: UNT has a couple of guys who looked solid in the spring in Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty, but neither set the world on fire. UNT is hoping one can be what Thompson was last year, a good manager of the offense who can make some plays throwing the ball, and — more importantly — not lose games. Thompson was perfect at that, and McCarney’s right. Thompson didn’t get as much credit as he deserved.

Hoping for a gunslinger? Don’t count on it.

I wrote mostly about Greer in tomorrow’s paper. My personal take is that Greer has a higher ceiling, but McNulty has the edge in experience. The fact that Greer has only been around since December and is right there with McNulty speaks of how far Greer has come in a short time.

What surprised me a little was that both McCarney and Canales said it was important to get Dajon Williams back from an ankle injury and into the race. Both talked about how much talent he has.

I had the feeling the door was closed on Williams for 2014, especially after he missed some time late in the spring with a sprained ankle. There are only a few weeks of practice in the fall before UNT opens at Texas in late August. I have a hard time seeing UNT giving meaningful snaps to three players again. Could it be a matter of keeping Williams motivated? Could UNT change course at this point?

It’s something to watch, that’s for sure.

Another factor to consider is that Connor Means looked good with the White team (second, fourth teamers). That could be a positive sign for the future.

Now for the bad news …

UNT’s offense didn’t exactly light it up against a defense made up of backups from a team that lost six of the seven members of its front seven. I’m not going to read too much into it, but the Mean Green is going to be a work in progress without Thompson … and Brelan Chancellor … and Brandin Byrd … and you get my point.

McCarney said this is the first time in his coaching carer the backups battled the starters and never let them back in the game. Granted, the backups started out up 21-0, but that is pretty telling comment. It’t not like McCarney is new to this.

And back to the good news …

Part of the reason UNT didn’t have a great day offensively is that the Mean Green appears to have some good young defensive players.

McCarney said linebacker Sed Ellis is the real deal. He looked the part while returning a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown.

Ellis just needs to put on weight, which is something he should have a chance to do over the summer.

Defensive end Jarrian Roberts, defensive tackle Sid Moore and linebacker Calvin Minor also showed a ton of potential, as they have throughout the spring.

And since I know people would love to see them, here are the stats that were passed out by UNT after the game:

Antoinne Jimmerson 9 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs, long 54
Mark Lewis 8 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD, long 24
Carlos Harris 1 carry, 7 yards
Josh Greer 3 carries, minus 14 yards
Andrew McNulty four carries, minus 25 yards

Andrew McNulty 15-for-24, 0 Ints, 217 yards, 1 TD
Josh Greer 10-for-16, 0 Ints, 152 yards, 0 TD

Carlos Harris 9 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD
Darius Terrell 3 catches, 74 yards
Darvin Kidsy 5 catches, 60 yards
Jarrod Lynn 1 catch, 58 yards
Andrew Tucker 2 catches, 57 yards
Antoinne Jimmerson 2 catches, 12 yards
Roderick Lancaster 1 catch, 11 yards
Clayton Adams 1 catch, 8 yards
Mark Lewis 1 catch, 3 yards

Erick Evans 5 carries, 51 yards
Jamaine Wilhite 8 carries, 38 yards
Andrew Tucker 10 carries, 29 yards
Josh Cousins 1 carry, 2 yards
Connor Means 7 carries, minus 1 yard

Connor Means 9-for-15, 0 Ints, 125 yards, 1 TD
Josh Cousins 1-for-2, 0 Ints, 8 yards, 0 TDs

Turner Smiley 4 catches, 42 yards
John Chelf 3 catches, 37 yards
Jones 1 catch, 33 yards
Willie Hubbard 1 catch, 13 yards
Mike Marshall 1 catch, 8 yards

Spring game running blog

5:06 — Antoinne Jimmerson just scored on an 11-yard run and then caught the shuffle pass for the two-point conversion. The White is up 35-31.

11:32 — Antoinne Jimmerson just scored on a 13-yard run. The Green has pulled to within 35-23. I don’t think they are going to run the clock now. Greer was on the field for that drive and went 5-for-5.

End of third quarter — The White will take a 35-16 lead in the final quarter. The Green is driving behind Josh Greer. He has hit on four straight passes.

4:28 — That was ugly. Andrew McNulty went to throw the ball, pulled it back and had it pop straight up in to the air. The defense recovered.

5:39 — Today’s official attendance comes in a 5,235.

9:22 — Andrew McNulty led the Green on a 75-yard touchdown drive on the opening series of the second half. Mark Lewis capped the drive with a 24-yard run. The Green pulls to within 28-16.

Halftime — The White leads 28-9 at halftime of the spring game. UNT’s defense has generally controlled the game so far. Josh Greer had a nice long ball and drove UNT down the field before the drive stalled out.

1:20 –Josh Greer led a long drive off the Green’s goal line that ended in an Eric Keena field goal. It’s 28-9 White. Greer connected on a 58-yard pass on the first play of the drive.

6:19 — Andrew McNulty goes 5-for-5 on a 90-yard drive and hits Carlos Harris for a 6-yard touchdown. McNulty really helped his cause on that drive. He hit Darius Terrell for a 23-yard gain down the sideline on the first play of the drive.

End of the first quarter — The White is up 28-0. In a bit of a twist, the star of the game so far, at least offensively, has been Connor Means, the only healthy quarterback not in contention for the starting job.

5:05 — UNT’s defense is controlling this game so far. Antoinne Jimmerson broke off a 46-yard run, but the drive stalled out. Chad Polk sacked Josh Greer to help kill the drive.

8:35 — Conner Means hit Turner Smiley for a 17-yard touchdown from Connor Means. By the way, Mason Y’Barbo is out for today’s game due to injury.

10:56 — Connor Means is in with the second team and missed on his first throw.

UNT is about ready to kick off its spring game here at Apogee Stadium.

Andrew McNulty is up first. He missed on his first throw and was sacked twice by Jarrian Roberts.

Spring game preview (thoughts and links)

UNT’s annual spring game is coming up in a few hours. I’m here at the Hall of Fame Luncheon, which is going to be well-attended again this year.

As far as the main event goes, here are a few notes and thoughts on what to watch:

– The key battle of the day will be between Andrew McNulty and Josh Greer for the starting quarterback job. We wrote about where things stand in today’s paper. A number of people have asked about what my gut feeling is. To be honest, I just don’t know. Every time one guy seems to take the lead, he fails to push away. Greer might have the higher ceiling. McNulty has far more experience. I don’t think UNT’s coaches are sure who will win the job, either.

– One of the big concerns heading into spring practice was the state of UNT’s front seven. That hasn’t changed heading into the spring game and won’t change before UNT kicks off against Texas. Derek Akunne is rock solid at linebacker. Alexander Lincoln is among a few players who has experience on UNT’s defensive front returning. Will that front seven hold up next year? Today’s game could provide a glimpse.

– Who will be that fifth offensive lineman? UNT knows what it has in Mason Y’Barbo, Cyril Lemon and Antonio Johnson, who will be seniors in the fall. Center Kaydon Kirby has come on quickly to be a solid player and will start again at center. The question is who will be that fifth guy. Tackle Ryan Rentfro and guard Shawn McKinney are battling for that fifth spot. Today’s game could help put one of those two guys over the top.

– UNT lost a lot of key playmakers off last season’s team on both sides of the ball from running back Brandin Byrd and wide receiver Brelan Chancellor to safety Marcus Trice. Who will fill those guys’ spots? We already know who some of those players are from wide receiver Carlos Harris to Akunne. We could have a better idea who some of the other guys who will fill those roles are after today.

UNT recruiting target series — DeSoto WR Akile Davis

DeSoto wide receiver Akile Davis breaks free for a touchdown during a game between DeSoto and Tulsa Union at Southlake Carroll's Dragon Stadium in Southlake last season. e (The Dallas Morning News/Garett Fisbeck)

DeSoto wide receiver Akile Davis and linebacker Chris Orr haven’t talked too seriously about playing together beyond high school, but when it comes to joking around, the idea of being teammates at North Texas comes up every once in a while.

UNT has been recruiting Orr, the younger brother of former Mean Green linebacker Zach Orr, over the last few months.

Mean Green recruiting coordinator Mike Grant told Davis about three weeks ago that UNT was ready to offer him as well in the hope that he would carry on the school’s tradition of featuring former DeSoto players.

UNT wide receiver Darius Terrell is also a DeSoto graduate.

“I know Darius, Zach and all of those guys,” Davis said. “They were excited about it when North Texas offered me. They are hoping North Texas will have another DeSoto guy coming.”

Davis is headed to Denton for the Mean Green’s spring game on Saturday afternoon. He attended a junior day at UNT in February.

“I’m excited about it,” Davis said. “I want to see the game type of environment and what that is like.”

Davis already has a positive opinion of UNT and feels like he could fit in well at the school and with the team.

“I like the offense they run,” Davis said. “They spread the ball around to a lot of different receivers. I also like the school. I want to study education and they have a good program.”

Davis caught 33 passes for 407 yards and five touchdowns last season, when he was a second-team All-District 7-5A selection.

Indiana has also offered Davis, while LSU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State have shown interest.

“I want to see who else will come in,” David said. “I want to make a decision late this summer or early in the season.”

Mean Green blog recruiting series
CB Nafees Lyon, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
DL Carl Thompson, Guyer
OL Beau Hott, Plano

Muhammed Ahmed named NJCAA All-American, a little perspective

Muhammed Ahmed, a forward from Gillette (Wyo.) College who committed to UNT earlier this month was named a third-team NJCAA All-American this week.

I haven’t gotten around to mentioning it until now because I think it deserves more than a mention.

On the surface, having a recruit named to the NJCAA All-American team might not sound like a big deal.

A look at this year’s team and the history of players who have been named JUCO All-Americans, even at UNT, shows that it is a very big deal.

There are guys all up and down this year’s team who are headed to big-time schools in major conferences.

For example, Williston State guard Trey Dickerson is on the third team with Ahmed and is headed to Iowa. Fellow third-teamer Willie Atwood of Connors State is visiting both Florida State and Iowa. Eastern Arizona’s Taylor Stafford is headed to Evansville.

Among the honorable mention picks, Harcum center Ivan Uceda is going to Miami and Kilgore guard Stefan Moody, a former Florida Atlantic guard, to Ole Miss.

Long-time UNT fans fondly remember Eric Tramiel, who was the MVP of the 2010 Sun Belt Conference tournament. He was a first-team NJCAA All-American from Paris JC. When we named the Johnny Jones All-Decade Team a few years ago, Jones immediately named Tramiel one of the five best players he coached at UNT, and that’s saying something considering what Jones built in his (one day will be) UNT Hall of Fame career.

The point is landing a player who was a third-team NJCAA All-American is about as close to a guarantee of getting a solid player one is ever going to find in college basketball recruiting.

UNT improved in the second year of the Tony Benford era after a tough start. I’m not saying that UNT doesn’t have a long way to go, but I am saying that a player like Ahmed could be a very important part of the building process.

MGB video: John Skladany talks about the progress of UNT’s defense

Here is a video I shot with UNT defensive coordinator John Skladany this week, when we discussed the progress of the Mean Green’s defense.

There are some highlights from drills on the front as well.

UNT seems to have come a long way this spring, thanks to the development of a few players who could fill key roles in the fall. Skladany talks about a few of those players.

UNT’s spring game is at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Apogee Stadium.

Thursday night tidbits

There were a couple of items of note to come out late today. To review:

– From our university reporter Jenna Duncan: Two key bond rating agencies have downgraded the University of North Texas System’s ratings outlook from stable to negative. The news comes in the wake of the ongoing review of some of the university’s financial practices. I doubt the issues end up hindering UNT long-term, but it is something to watch.

– A few sharp UNT fans have pointed this out, but it is worth mentioning here that Tony Mitchell pulled down six rebounds in the Pistons’ loss to the Cavaliers this week. I have said this ever since Mitchell left UNT and landed in the NBA: He is the kind of player who could improve in a hurry. Mitchell has missed a lot playing of time since he left high school for a variety of reasons. He hadn’t come close to reaching his ceiling when he left UNT. There were people who thought he wouldn’t stick in the league. It’s getting to the end of the season now. He’s stuck. Hopefully, he will get a lot of playing time in the last couple of games of the season.

– And don’t forget, UNT will have a key basketball recruiting target in beginning tomorrow. It’s something we covered in the last day or so:

UNT recruiting target series — Plano OL Beau Hott

Editor’s note -- Since we launched the Mean Green Blog several years ago, we have put an emphasis on covering recruiting when we get the chance. In the past, we have written several posts that we later turned into stories that appeared in the paper on recruits who have committed to UNT. What we haven’t done — until now — is write a lot about prospects UNT is pursuing. I will make an effort to get more material on the blog on prospects going forward. We have already written a about a few UNT targets. Today, we continue the series after talking with Plano offensive lineman Beau Hott.

North Texas head coach Dan McCarney made quite an impression on Plano offensive lineman Beau Hott during one of the Mean Green’s workouts this spring.

Hott, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound lineman, has been a regular at practice throughout the spring and has been in contact with special teams coach Tommy Perry for months. Hott knew that McCarney knew who he was.

What blew Hott away was just how much McCarney knew about his family.

Hott and his father had yet to put name tags on that recruits and their parents typically wear at practice recently when McCarney walked up to say hello.

McCarney knew Hott’s father’s name even though they were meeting for the first time.

“It really means a lot to me that he takes the time to talk with me at practice and that he knew my dad’s name before they had ever met,” Hott said. “He knew who I was and who my dad was even before we put our name tags on.”

The encounter was just the latest indication to Hott that he is a priority for UNT in the 2015 recruiting class.

UNT offered Hott a scholarship in February in the days following a junior day event at the school. Hott was a second-team all-district selection as a junior and an honorable mention pick as a sophomore in one of the most competitive districts in the state.

Arkansas State is recruiting Hott heavily. Louisiana Tech, SMU and UTSA are among the other schools that are showing interest.

“Beau could be a great center in college, but could also play a lot of other positions,” Plano coach Jaydon McCullough said. “He’s smart and has Ivy League level grades. So much is done now on the field in terms of adjustments with centers. He’s the kind of player who can handle it.”

Some recruiting websites list Hott as a center, but he said he could end up playing multiple positions in college depending on the way he develops.

Hott said he can see himself playing for the Mean Green after spending so much time with the team this spring.

“I have become really familiar with the offensive coaches,” Hott said. “Coach Perry is recruiting me, but I have also gotten to know [offensive line coach Mike] Simmonds pretty well and have met [offensive coordinator Mike] Canales. Coach McCarney has talked to me every time I have been at practice.”

Hott has already established a time window in which he would like to commit that will start after Plano’s spring practices and will end in the third week of the season. His preference is to make a decision in July or early August.

The more Hott has learned about UNT, the better he has felt about the situation. The impression McCarney made when he knew Hott’s father’s name made him feel even more comfortable with the idea of playing for the Mean Green.

“I like UNT a lot,” Hott said. “What coach McCarney is doing is awesome.”

Mean Green blog recruiting series
CB Nafees Lyon, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
DL Carl Thompson, Guyer

Thursday morning running blog

Update 7:16 — UNT is done. I am going back to bed. UNT’s players are headed to their 8 a.m. classes. Thanks for joining us on the old MGB.

Update 7:15 — Another good throw by Greer, who hit Carl Caldwell to set up a 40-yard field goal. UNT missed it.

Update 7:12 — Nice throw by Greer, who lofted the ball over a defensive back and hit Darius Terrell on the sideline. Daryl Mason just killed that drive with a sack. It’s been a tough day for UNT’s offensive line.

Update 7:11 — We are headed into the two-minute drill.

Update 7:10 — Jarrian Roberts sacked Andrew McNulty, who is working with the second team. McNulty and the second team go three-and-out.

Update 7:07 — Calvin Minor is seeing some time with the first-team defense and just picked up a sack. Josh Greer is up with the first team. UNT goes three-and-out. Carlos Harris did a good job of coming back toward Greer as he scrambled on third down.

Update 7:04 — UNT’s second-team offensive line is struggling a little bit. Just as I say that Jerrian Roberts comes up with a sack.

Update 7:02 — Nice play there from Chad Davis to tip a ball away from a receiver on the sideline.

Update 7:01 — Zac Whitfield just intercepted an Andrew McNulty pass and took it back for a touchdown. It looked like the ball was tipped.

Update 6:58 — Josh Greer just hit a deep ball down the sidelines where John Chelf grabbed it with a clear path to the end zone.

Update 6:55 — Here we go with a third-down ladder with the first team. Andrew McNulty is up first. Turner Smiley catches a deep ball down the middle. I am starting to think that Freddie Warner might start at safety this year. He is out there quite a bit.

Update 6:54 — Andrew McNulty is up with the second team. He threw a ball just a bit behind Turner Smiley down the middle. He dropped it. McNutly comes back to hit John Chelf down the middle.

Update 6:51 — We are back into a scrimmage situation with Josh Greer up. He hit Carlos Harris for 7 yards on first down. This is a series with set downs and distances. Zac Whitfield just dropped an interception. Great guy. Good player. Just really struggles to catch the ball. Greer comes back to throw a good ball to Harris again.

Update 6:50 — Connor Means tried to fit one into a tight window. AJ Smith broke it up.

Update 6:48 — Greer dropped a nice ball in to Erick Evans on the wheel route. Evans dropped it, but Greer couldn’t have placed it much better. He seems really accurate when he can just sit back there and chunk it.

Update 6:45 — Andrew McNulty is up and just hit Derrick Teegarden across the middle. Solid series there for McNulty with the second team.

Update 6:42 — We are into passing drills, wide receivers vs. defensive backs. Josh Greer is up first and zinged two good throws downfield. There is another good ball to Turner Smiley. That was a good series for Greer.

Update 6:39 — The sun is starting to come up from behind the stands. UNT is still working on special teams drills. Punt block is the big emphasis so far. Turner Smiley is getting a look returning punts.

Update 6:33 — UNT is now working on punt block drills. The Mean Green’s tackles and interior offensive linemen are working on the other end of the field.

Update 6:31 — Josh Greer is in with the second team. This is a limited contact set of first-down plays, by the way.

Update 6:30 — Erick Evans breaks one on a run to the outside. Lairamie Lee is out there with the first team defense and comes up to make a tackle.

Update 6:29 — And now for some scrimmage time. Andrew McNulty is up with the first team. Nice play by Zac Whitfield covering the wide receiver screen.

Update 6:27 — UNT is working on patters with its quarterbacks throwing to receivers with no defensive backs on the field.

Update 6:22 — There are always players teams can ill afford to lose. The starting quarterback is always No. 1. I wouldn’t put center Kaydon Kirby too far down the list. UNT has struggled with shotgun snaps when he isn’t in there. Just as I say that offensive line coach Mike Simmonds has some choice words about the snap.

Update 6:20 — UNT is working on inside drills. Lairamie Lee has been back out there on the field the last couple of days after being MIA for most of the spring.

Update 6:16 — One guy who we haven’t talked much about who seems to be moving up a bit on the depth chart this spring is Turner Smiley. He has played pretty well and made a few plays. He could be a guy who contributes this year. His dad played for McCarney at Iowa, which we covered back when he committed.

Update 6:11 — Believe it or not, I am not the only one in the stands this morning. Hebron offensive lineman and UNT recruiting target Stephen McHardy is on hand today, thanks to his mom, who is chilling (and I mean that in the temperature sense) along with me. Ms. McHardy gets the unofficial “Mom of the Day” award and a MGB shout-out for making the haul to Denton before dawn.

Update 6:04 — UNT’s special teams just blocked a punt. It will be interesting to see who emerges in some of those special teams roles in terms of coverage and going after kicks that Marcus Trice excelled in last season.

Update 6:03 — Darvin Kidsy and Carlos Harris are returning punts this morning. Those guys seem to be emerging as UNT’s top options back there. Tee Goree could figure in there when he arrives in the fall.

Update 6:00 — In a side note, I have been meaning to mention that Derek Thompson is heading to a regional combine to throw for NFL scouts in the next few days. I talked to DT this week. He is pretty excited about it. He should be. It’s pretty amazing to think about how far he came to get an opportunity like that.

Update 5:58 — UNT typically works quite a bit on special teams in this workout. It makes sense. This is a time when UNT has time for it. UNT is going through punting drills.

Update 5:57 — Dan McCarney and his coaches are trying to wake his players up. Mac is always full of energy. Even now.

It’s 5:48 a.m. and UNT’s players are rolling out on to the field at Apogee Stadium for practice.

We are along for the ride. This is an open practice. If we didn’t show that would all but insure that there would be an alien landing in period six and we would miss it.

This is one of the final workouts before Saturday’s spring game.

UNT usually works out before dawn in this last workout before the spring game. One of the side benefits is the fact that practicing early gives the players some extra recovery time before the spring finale.

There will be a lot on the line in that workout in terms of positional battles, including the quarterback duel between Andrew McNulty and Josh Greer.

Dan McCarney acknowledged in his spring press conference that Dajon Williams has a sprained ankle and is doubtful. I would be shocked if we see him play.

I don’t expect anything terribly interesting to happen this morning, but we should see some one-one-one passing drills. Check back for a few updates — if anyone is up, that is.