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.

 

UNT picks up 17 safety Micahel Sewell Jr.

North Texas got an early jump on its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday when LA Valley College safety Michael Sewell Jr. committed to play for the Mean Green.

Sewell (6-2, 197) originally committed to Cal during his freshman season and intended to begin his career with the Bears as a sophomore.

Those plans changed over the last few weeks. UNT defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler recruited Sewell and convinced him to become the latest LA Valley player to commit to UNT.

“I wasn’t going to be eligible,” Sewell said on Sunday night. “I decided to come back to LA Valley and transfer in December. Coach Ekeler has stuck with me. I love North Texas and the love that they have shown me.”

UNT signed running back Anthony Wyche out of LA Valley and is waiting to see if cornerback Eric Jenkins will qualify. Jenkins committed to UNT over the summer and is on campus.

The Mean Green have a pair of experienced safeties it will lean on this season in Kishawn McClain and James Gray, who will be a senior this fall. Sewell could fill the void the departure of Gray will present.

“I definitely fit in,” Sewell said. “I could end up moving into Gray’s spot.”

Sewell was also offered a scholarship Indiana State, Pairie View A&M and Louisiana-Monroe, but decided UNT was his best option to continue his career after one more season in junior college.

“I’m looking forward to playing one last season at LA Valley,” Sewell said.

The junior college safety will be on his way to UNT shortly after that season concludes.

Video, scrimmage notes from Saturday’s workout

North Texas scrimmaged for about two hours this morning at Apogee Stadium.

The big news of the day was the last piece of news I picked up. As expected, highly regarded defensive end recruit Raveon Hoston isn’t in the Mean Green’s plans any longer. Hoston failed to qualify academically.

We discussed it earlier on the blog.

UNT rolled the dice on some high-risk, high-reward recruits from the junior college level and missed on three in Hoston, linebacker William Johnson and offensive lineman Cody Hayes. None qualified academically.

UNT did land several quality players from junior college and from the high school ranks this year. The Mean Green just didn’t hit on 100 percent of them.

As far as the scrimmage went, UNT coach Seth Littrell was pleased with the overall performance of his team. Littrell again pointed to the play of his defensive line and tackle Roderick Young as a bright spot.

The video at the top of this post is of Littrell giving his thoughts. It got a little windy in the middle.

And in other news and notes …

– Littrell said that he is excited about the impact Kansas State transfer Demonte Hood can make this season. The senior will give UNT another option at a position of strength.

– Defensive end Jarrian Roberts is coming on after recovering from a broken ankle that shelved him for UNT’s spring game.

– Freshman cornerback Jameel Moore is seeing time with UNT’s first team. The Mean Green are missing some of their regulars in the defensive backfield who are out with injuries. UNT is prohibiting reports on injuries, but Littrell did go on the record that Chad Davis and Cedric Fernandez are out at the moment.

– Sam Rice is still adjusting to playing at center after moving over from guard. He missed on a few snaps today. Running back Andrew Tucker caught one and tossed it to quarterback Alec Morris.

– Devin O’Hara and Mason Fine continued to play well at quarterback. Fine his his old Locust Grove teammate Jason Pirtle for long touchdown. UNT appears to be set with Alec Morris as its starter. UNT would like to redshirt Fine. It’s playing out just like I expected. Morris will start, O’Hara will be the backup and UNT will try to redshirt Fine.

– Michael Lawrence, a freshman walk-on from Sweetwater, made the catch of the day, a leaping grab in the end zone.

– UNT had a tough day on special teams. The Mean Green fumbled a couple of punts and Trevor Moore had a rare off day kicking.

– Linebacker Cortney Finney intercepted a pass over the middle.