Former UNT great quoted in story on NFL painkillers lawsuit

Cobbs

The Associated Press just released a story on former players joining a lawsuit against the NFLthat claims teams kept handing out painkillers and other drugs with few safeguards as recently as 2012.

The story includes a quote from former UNT great Patrick Cobbs. The UNT Hall of Famer joined the New England Patriots in 2006 as an undrafted free agent and then caught on as running back with the Miami Dolphins through 2010. Cobbs said he started taking painkillers to deal with hip and rib injuries in 2007-08.

“It seemed like the norm then,” Cobbs said. “Now, you know what that’s done to you and it seems so wrong.”

Cobbs recently joined the coaching staff at Denton Ryan.

Cobbs is the second-leading rusher in UNT history with 4,050 yards and won the national rushing title in 2003, when he rushed for 1,680 yards.

The 2003 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year sprained his knee in a loss to Florida Atlantic in the second game of the 2004 season, missed the next two games and then elected to take a medical redshirt. He returned to UNT’s backfield in 2005, rushed for 1,154 yards and broke the school’s career rushing record.

Cobbs career mark of 4,050 career rushing yards was subsequently passed by current Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar in 2011. Dunbar rushed for 4,224 yards in four seasons at UNT.

Cobbs had reconstructive knee surgery during his time with the Dolphins.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report

Friday afternoon notes (UNT players who will be at media day)

Akunne

Lemon

Conference USA sent out its annual notes today about who is going to be at media day in terms of players.

If you want a big indication that the season is getting pretty darn close, that’s a big one.

So who is going to be around to represent UNT?

Head coach Dan McCarney will be there, as always, and is bringing along linebacker Derek Akunne and offensive lineman Cyril Lemon.

Both have been terrific players for UNT for years. Lemon is also a favorite of the coaching staff.

Lemon and Akunne will be two of the guys UNT leans on this year in a lot of capacities. I would be surprised if Akunne doesn’t end up being a team captain this season.

The headliner of the whole affair will be Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, who was named to the Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list today. The senior quarterback is considered a Heisman candidate and will guide a team that many believe has a chance to go undefeated this year.

I will have some thoughts on media day as we get closer to the event, but what will be particularly interesting to see this year is how UNT is perceived and how much attention the team gets. McCarney mentioned that he could sense that people didn’t really take the Mean Green seriously last year.

That obviously will change this year, especially after UNT was picked to win the league’s West Division.

Follow-up notes, thoughts on beer sales at Apogee

UNT announced earlier today that it will begin selling beer on the concourse level at Apogee Stadium during football games this fall. I spent most of the day chasing down sources and banging out a story for tomorrow’s paper along with our higher educator reporter Jenna Duncan.

While we were doing so, we came across a couple of other points that are worth mentioning:

– UNT will sell beer at Mean Green football games, but won’t sell beer during high school games at the venue. That seemed like a pretty reasonable assumption, but it is worth pointing out.

– UNT doesn’t know exactly what the financial impact of selling beer will be at games, but the money will go back into the school’s athletic department. The assumption among UNT officials — and it’s a really safe one — is that the financial windfall will be pretty significant.

– UNT has not settled on how it will go about selling beer at games. The school has looked into different ways to go with cans, cups, et cetera.

As far as some thoughts go…

It’s a great move for UNT. People like to drink at games. That’s just the reality of it. I have no doubt that there will be more butts in the seats as a result — and isn’t that really what matters?

The revenue will also help UNT, which as a mid-major program can use every nickel it can get its hands on.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said he would have liked to have started selling beer when Apogee Stadium opened. I have no doubt that is the case, but the journalist/cynic in me wonders if UNT isn’t better off having already sold a ton of club seats before opening up beer sales throughout the stadium since beer sales up there seemed to be one of the key selling points for the club level in the first place.

There will no doubt be some who are concerned about the environment at games, but I don’t think there will be an overly negative impact.

One of the big topics of debate over the years at UNT games has been people drinking in the parking lot and not coming in. Selling beer will help in that regard. I wouldn’t expect the hill where students hang out to empty out, though. The bottom line is that there are always going to be students who are more interested in the social aspect of hanging out on the hill than the game.

And like a couple of us were talking about in the office, the parking lot will always have the lure of cheep beer from Walmart and the Texas/Texas A&M/Oklahoma/Texas Tech game on TV as opposed to the higher-priced variety of beer in the stadium/the UNT game.

Dan McCarney and his team are doing a wiz-bang job of helping rectifying that problem. The Heart of Dallas Bowl win really helped boost UNT’s profile. McCarney and UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal meeting with freshmen has also really helped. There is pretty much no chance now that a young impressionable 18-year-old can sneak into college algebra without having the UNT fight song drilled into his head while being bear hugged by Scrappy.

Throw in a little beer and UNT may have a winning formula on its hands — and a Budweiser/Coors can.

UNT to sell beer at Apogee

UNT will begin selling beer at Apogee Stadium this fall, the school announced on Thursday.

Metzler’s Catering will handle the sale of beer at the venue. UNT applied for a license to sell alcoholic beverages throughout Apogee Stadium before it opened in 2011.

UNT will begin selling beer on the concourse level for its home-opener against SMU on Sept. 6.

UNT officials have yet to determine the size and containers in which beer will be sold in the stadium.

The school previously only sold beer in the club level of Apogee Stadium. UNT sold beer on a deck at Fouts Field, where access was also limited.

“We carefully studied all issues related to making beer available in Apogee Stadium, and from every angle, it makes sense,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said in a statement. “At UNLV, my experience was that selling beer helped to more carefully regulate alcohol consumption and encouraged more fans to watch the game in the stadium. It also cumulatively improved revenues and had no negative impact on the overall experience of all fans.”

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said the school is hoping selling beer will help boost attendance and enhance the entertainment experience at UNT football games.

All revenue generated from the sale of beer will go to the UNT athletic department.

Thursday afternoon notes (UNT picks up a few more TV games, et cetera)

Conference USA announced an agreement with the Sinclair Group today that landed UNT four additional television games.

UNT’s buy-a-win game against Nicholls State, plus its C-USA games against UAB, Southern Miss, and Florida International will all be broadcast as part of the new contract.

Of UNT’s 12 games, 11 are now set to be televised. The only one that is not already scheduled to be on TV is the Indiana game, which I would have to think will end up on TV as well.

In a side note, the kickoff times for those four games have been set as well. The Nicholls State, UAB and FIU games will all kick at 2:30, while the Southern Miss game will kick at 6 p.m.

Here’s the full release on the new TV deal from C-USA.

This is obvious, but it’s a great deal for UNT any time games are on TV. The exposure helps the program immensely.

And in other news …

The Doak Walker watch list was released today. The award goes to the nation’s top running back. UNT didn’t have a player nominated, but there were a couple of players from C-USA who made the list, including Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon. UNT will face Dixon in its third game this season.

– It’s getting to be that time of year when we really hunker down and work on our preseason football magazine. I bring it up because we had the first of our photo shoots this morning. Argyle coach Todd Rodgers talked again about what a good job UNT’s staff is doing in recruiting players from his program. We hear that from a lot of coaches from the area. The Argyle players know UNT offensive line coach Mike Simmonds by name. He’s like Norm on Cheers on that bar when it comes to the Argyle field house. If you’re a UNT fan, that’s a very good thing.

Cobbs joins staff at Ryan

Cobbs

This has been rumored for some time and now Ben Baby, one of our high school writers, has tracked it down.

Patrick Cobbs is joining the staff at Ryan High in Denton.

Ben talked to Cobbs, so be sure to check out what the UNT Hall of Famer had to say.

What’s also important to note here is the increasing number of former UNT players who are coaching in the area and beyond in Texas high schools these days.

Derek Thompson recently joined the staff at Denton High, where Kelvin Drake is also working. Nathan Tune was on Denton’s staff for a while, but has since left to go into private business.

And don’t forget, Cody Spencer, one of UNT’s great linebackers from the New Orleans Bowl run, is on the staff at Texarkana.

UNT is recruiting several players from Denton High, including a pretty key target in defensive end Dailon Holmes. UNT has also offered Judd Terry and Rowdy Clark. When I talked to those guys, they mentioned how Drake spoke highly of UNT and his time at the school.

That will only help UNT’s efforts to develop a pipeline to the Denton schools.

UNT’s recent success also helps.

There was a lot of grumbling over the years that area coaches didn’t exactly endorse UNT as a potential college destination.

Let’s just say that there was a nearly four-year long span when those coaches had a darn good reason not to push UNT.

That’s changed. Having a few more former players in the high school ranks in Denton will only help get the word out.

Recruiting tidbit — UNT target Moore will release top five soon

The big news of the day is that UNT was picked to win Conference USA’s West Division in the preseason coaches’ poll, but there is an interesting recruiting tidbit that has come down as well.

Tyler Moore, an offensive lineman from Galena Park North Shore, said today that he will release a list of the five schools he is still considering some time before the start of the season.

We wrote about Moore in our on-going UNT recruiting target series.

Texas offered Moore after UNT. He is considered a heavy Texas lean at this point, but he has not committed.

UNT picked to win the C-USA West in preseason coaches’ poll

UNT was a narrow pick to win Conference USA’s West Division in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll that was released this morning.

UNT received 66 points in the poll, just edging out Rice and UTSA, which received 65 and 62 points, respectively.

The Mean Green had two players named to the preseason all-conference team in senior guards Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo.

The honors come after a breakout season that saw the Mean Green finish 9-4 and beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Here is the full West Division poll:

Team Points
1. North Texas 66
2. Rice 65
3. UTSA 62
4. Louisiana Tech 38
5. Southern Miss 24
6. UTEP 18

So what does the poll/team tell us?

Well, for one, UNT enters the season as the target for everyone else in the league.

The situation will be something new for a team that lost several of its key players and leaders after last season, including Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP Derek Thompson at quarterback and first-team All-C-USA selections in linebacker Zach Orr and safety Marcus Trice.

Those players helped UNT break a string of eight straight losing seasons a year ago, when UNT won a bowl game for just the third time in program history

The question will be how the Mean Green handles that challenge of being the team everyone is trying to take down.

The all-conference team reflects what we already know. UNT has a ton of talent and experience on its offensive line and a host of questions everywhere else.

UNT’s offensive line will provide a solid foundation. The Mean Green also has a few experienced skill position players who are productive, including running back Antoinne Jimmerson and wide receiver Carlos Harris, but no proven all-conference caliber talent at running back or wide receiver.

And UNT has big questions/issues at quarterback and in its front seven on defense.

Can Andrew McNulty or Josh Greer handle the quarterback job? And what about guys like Alexander Lincoln and Daryl Mason on UNT’s defensive line?

Those players will have to step forward in a major way.

The coaches who voted in the poll and for the preseason all-conference team knew those issues were there, just like they knew UNT had some really good offensive linemen coming back.

In the end the positives far outweighed the questions.

That’s how UNT ended up No. 1 in the poll — and with a big target on its back heading into the season.

Here’s the Preseason All-C-USA team:

Offensive Player of the Year
Rakeem Cato, Sr., QB, Marshall

Defensive Player of the Year
James Rouse, Sr., DL, Marshall

Special Teams Player of the Year
Hunter Mullins, Sr., P, UAB

First Team Offense
QB Rakeem Cato, Sr., Marshall
RB Kenneth Dixon, Jr., Louisiana Tech
RB Aaron Jones, So., UTEP
OL Scott Inskeep, Sr., UTSA
OL Chris Jasperse, Sr., Marshall
OL Cyril Lemon, Sr., North Texas
OL Clint Van Horn, Jr., Marshall
OL Mason Y’Barbo, Sr., North Texas
WR Jamarcus Nelson, Sr., UAB
WR Tommy Shuler, Sr., Marshall
WR Jordan Taylor., Sr., Rice
TE Eric Tomlinson, Sr., UTEP

First Team Defense
DL Vernon Butler, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DL Christian Covington, Jr., Rice
DL Ra’Shawde Myers, Sr., Marshall
DL James Rouse, Sr., Marshall
LB T.T. Barber, Sr., Middle Tennessee
LB Evan McKelvey, Sr., Marshall
LB Andrae Kirk, Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB Kevin Byard, Jr., Middle Tennessee
DB Bryce Callahan, Sr., Rice
DB D’Joun Smith, Sr., Florida Atlantic
DB Triston Wade, Sr., UTSA

First Team Special Teams
K Sean Ianno, Sr., UTSA
P Hunter Mullins, Sr., UAB
KR Autrey Golden, Jr., UTEP
PR Kenny Harrison, Sr., UTSA
LS Jesse Medrano, Sr., UTSA

UNT recruiting target series — Davion Freeman

Davion Freeman has shown the ability to do a little of everything during his high school career at Del City High in Oklahoma City.

Freeman has played cornerback and slot receiver, where he is often involved in the running game on sweeps and option plays. He also returns kickoffs and punts.

That versatility has attracted the attention of colleges across the country, including UNT.

The Mean Green offered Freeman in January and is squarely in the race to sign the 5-foot-9, 157-pound standout who also has offers from Arkansas State, New Mexico State, New Mexico and Wyoming. Here are his Hudl highlights.

UNT tight ends coach Nick Quartaro is recruiting Freeman as a cornerback.

“My versatility is one of my strengths with my speed and the way I see the field,” Freeman said.

That versatility has opened a wealth of options for Freeman, who is carefully considering not only where he wants to play, but also the position he will play on the college level.

Freeman scored four receiving touchdowns as a junior and also intercepted two passes.

“The type of role I will play is important to me and so is the environment,” Freeman said. “Right now, I don’t know which side I will play on, but I like to catch the ball and score.”

Freeman attended an event for juniors at UNT in February and said he likes what he sees in the school. He has also developed a solid relationship with Quartaro.

The proximity of UNT to Freeman’s home could give the Mean Green an edge in the recruiting process.

“I want to go somewhere where my mom and family can come see me play,” Freeman said.

UNT already has commitments from two cornerbacks in Ashton Preston, another Oklahoma product, and Nate Brooks of Whitehouse.

UNT’s coaches have told Freeman that they plan to sign three or four cornerbacks in their 2015 recruiting class.

Freeman is one of the players UNT is looking at for one of those final cornerback spots, but he’s in no hurry to make a decision on where he will play in college.

“I want to see how the season goes and then go from there,” Freeman said. “I want to play my senior season before I decide.”

UNT football commitments
DB Ashton Preston, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe
WR Rodney Bendy, Tyler John Tyler
DB Nate Brooks, Whitehouse
DE Sam Miller, Canton

Mean Green blog recruiting series
DE Dailon Holmes, Denton
WR D’erren Wilson, Dallas Bishop Dunne
OL Bryce Wilds, Brazosport
DL Dustin McWhorter, Graham
DB Ashton Preston, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe
DB Hayden Davidson, Richland
DB Cade Erwin, Flower Mound Marcus
OL Tyler Moore, Galena Park North Shore
OL Abdul Beecham, Converse Judson
WR Israel Williams, Waco Connally
OL Creighton Barr, Flower Mound Marcus
DB Niko Small, Arlington Bowie——————————–Committed to TCU
OL Shane Block, Yukon, Okla.
OL Ken Marks, Beaumont Central———-Committed to Louisiana-Lafayette
OL Rowdy Clark, Denton
OL Judd Terry, Denton
CB Jerbrell Lipscomb, Navasota
LB Diamon Cannon, Killeen Shoemaker
DE Sam Miller, Canton
WR Jarvis Baxter, Trinity Valley JC
DT Motekiai Maile, Tyler JC ———————– Committed to Oklahoma State
CB Taylor Robinson, Keller Central
OL Joseph Gonzales, Waco
OL Matt Hiter, Argyle
DB Nate Brooks, Whitehouse
LB Jordan Williams, Paris
OL Erik McCoy, Lufkin
OL Riley Daniel, Ringling, Okla.
DL RD Wegmann, Wichita Falls Rider
OL Evan Curl, Flower Mound
ATH Keith Washington, Brazoswood————————-Committed to Duke
OL Kaden Jackson, Kingfisher (Okla.)High
LB Angelo Garbutt, Lewisville Hebron
LB Clay Holford, Lewisville Hebron————-Committed to Eastern Michigan
ATH Billy McCrary, Leander Rouse —————————– Committed to SMU
QB Chris Riddle, University Christian, Jacksonville, Fla.
CB Nafees Lyon, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek———-Committed to Charlotte
DL Carl Thompson, Guyer—————————————Committed to Kansas
OL Beau Hott, Plano——————————-Committed to Oregon State
WR Akile Davis, DeSoto
ATH Jonathan Giles, Fort Bend Elkins ———— Committed to Texas Tech
OL Clayton Woods, Highland Park———————–Committed to UTSA
DL Keenan Kelly, Cedar Grove, Ga.

Tuesday morning notes (looking for a few students who sat behind the visitor’s bench)

Conference USA media days are just around the corner, but before we get to that point, it’s time to finish off a few summer projects.

At the top of the list is a look at the seating change policy at Apogee Stadium.

I’m looking for a few students who sat behind the visitor’s bench at Apogee Stadium last year to talk about the change.

If anyone out there in Mean Green Land is interesting in talking about the seating policy change who sat in the student section last year, drop me a line at bvito@dentonrc.com.

I have been running a few other sources down now that I am back from vacation and have my summer series on UNT’s first season in Conference USA done.

And in other tidbits of the morning …

The watch list for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s top receiver came out today. It included three players from Conference USA, but none from UNT.