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  1. 10Eagle10

    James Jones

    My adopted player with the heads up awareness to cover that ball and score the year's first TD. Way to go #13!
  2. I was able to watch UNT's 2nd practice of the 2014 Spring Training from start to finish and am posting some of my thoughts. I will also be posting some pictures I took throughout the evening and tomorrow. These are the initial thoughts that stick out, I will answer questions that are posted and may post a few other things I saw and learned later on. First off -- unbelievably nice weather today. The team used the practice fields and for the first time I can remember in a long time the wind turbines sat still. It was a shorts and helmets type of practice as Coach Mac and the assistants are working their way towards the first full pad scrimmage which I anticipate will begin next week. Don't let the shorts and helmets thing fool you though, it is very physical and there was at least one minor injury directly from contact so it's not like a walk in the park. Keep in mind, this was just one day and as such all of these opinions should be tempered as such... I don't dispute a bit of the opinions shared by Mr. Silver Eagle or the other generous contributors from the 1st scrimmage. These are just my impressions from today and they can and will surely change as we move deeper into this Spring schedule. Quarterbacks I was extremely impressed with Dajon Williams today in particular. I really like the depth and players behind Williams (who ran with the first team mostly today) as well but more on that later. Williams throws a beautiful pass, has a nice quick release and accuracy in the longer range passes. He made a picture perfect pass to Darvin Kidsy on a deep sideline pattern that was the offensive play of the day, about a 55 yard touchdown that Kidsey took in stride. He seems to excel in the pressure situations and as one person shared with me has "ice water in his veins... Williams stands every bit of 6-4, but is extremely lean. I don't know if he has a body type that will ever become Derek Thompson big but he could stand to gain another 10-15 pounds. In terms of his durability, it is certainly a concern, but then again - who really knows until we see him take some big hits which likely won't happen until he steps on the field against the Texas Longhorns. Williams had the usual snapping miscues which frankly plagued all of the QB's on the day. Part of this was due to UNT giving #77 Travis Ellard a fair amount of snaps at center today and he struggled at times. He also had a couple of sacks trying to find open receivers. I don't put too much stock into this due to the fact they aren't in full pads/contact and that really is an advantage to the defense in my opinion. I just thought after an entire practice, Williams showed the strongest arm, best accuracy and mobility of the 6 QB's out there. Now on the others: I also liked what I saw from Josh Greer. He's a little taller than Williams, but not as mobile. He carries more weight --- looks more mature physically. He looks like a D-I QB. He also has a nice arm although I wouldn't say it is as strong as Williams. For a guy that is just joining the team in January he seems to be picking up the offense quickly. Where Williams is a leader more through his own actions, Greer seems to be able to rally the troops a bit more. Greer's size is a plus, he is not big but he seems to have more weight than Williams or Means. I also liked what I saw out of Connor Means. He is not up to the standards of Williams or Greer, but you have to keep in mind, he's really still just a high school senior out there! I thought for a really young guy he competed very well. He threw an interception and made some bad decisions at times. I liked his quickness and tempo. You can tell he is a good athlete and will only get better with time. I sense, barring some injuries etc. he will end up being redshirted but having two Spring-training sessions and all the reps he will accumulate plus the off-season program he could be a very nice addition to this program. Andy McNulty did not have his best day. In the passing drills, it seemed like his arm was not as strong as some of the new guys. He has some snap miscues which were not all his fault as well as some fumbles during handoffs which is to be expected to happen this early. There is no question that McNulty knows the Chico offense better than any of the other candidates but will that be enough to override the talent differences? I have stated my belief that the odds are McNulty will start against Texas but after today I am starting to wonder if he will be able to overcome the stable of talent UNT has brought in to compete against him. The other two guys are Quinn Shanbour a transfer from Oklahoma State and Josh Cousins a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma. Both have lively arms. I could certainly see that Shanbour has a quick release, actually one of the quickest I have seen. Both are south of 6-foot which is likely why they are walking on to this program. I saw some nice throws in drills. Shanbour has excellent footwork on the cones and seems to be pretty quick on his feet. I didn't get to see as much out of Cousins. Both are as quality a walk-on candidates as this program has seen. I like the fact that both could very likely push the scholarship players. In a way, they are competing with each other. The scary thing for McNulty is I think both of them have better arms and are pretty close to him in height. Neither one got to see any of the live action situations against the defense as that time was reserved for the 4 scholarship players. Running back A lot of Jimmy today as Reggie Pegram was working through his knee surgery rehab. Jim Jim had some nice runs but again, in shorts it's really hard to gauge. I though Mark Lewis looked pretty good on some runs. He looks like he is in good shape and should be seeing a lot of time with Pegram out. I was pleasantly surprised to see Rex Rollins out there. He's wearing the red shirt so he won't see contact but man this kid can really fly. He has really gotten bigger and stronger than he was when he first arrived here. Jermaine Wilhite (#21) is a speedy scatback type that they appear to be using on some of the Brelan type of plays. Wide Receiver Darvin Kidsey, Darius Terrell and Carlos Harris made the most plays in my estimation today. The tall walk-on Adams from Granbury actually made a couple of nice grabs. Really wasn't able to evaluate this as well today as I was watching the QB's so closely. It was weird not seeing Brelan out there for sure. Tight End Marcus Smith caught my eye on a couple of plays and appears to be the guy. Cooper Jones has added some size; I would say he is probably closer to 240 now. One regret is that I didn't get to catch much of Wylie Reinhardt although I did see him and was impressed with his size and physique. Tanner Smith was out there doing his thing and looked good. Probably one of the best looking athletes on the entire roster is Chris Loving. He does not carry an ounce of fat and is every bit of 6-4, 260+. The sad thing is he is wearing a hand cast and is not going to be able to participate in Spring contact. To his credit he was still running around and hustling, running pass patterns etc. He's a guy that could definitely help this program and so it's a shame that he is unable to have contact. O-Line Antonio Johnson is alive and well! He was working with the first team and looks great. The main thing that caught my eye with the offensive linemen was big transfer #64 Sam Rice. He is a physical specimen that just stands out in a crowd. Huge guns, no fat, very active... wow this guy could be special. Just wish he could join in this season, but it is nice to have him working with the other linemen. It does appear that they are trying to look at Cyril Lemon at tackle and that is putting big 365 pound Shawn McKinney at guard. Funny story, I actually saw McKinney get angry today, at defensive end Daryl Mason who was pestering him during a scrimmage play. Mason (who is about 100 pounds lighter) didn't seem to press the issue. Travis Ellard was seeing a lot of snaps at center behind Kaydon Kirby so it appears that McKinney will be a guard full time, or at least that is the plan for now. D-Line Starting front four was Daryl Mason and Chad Polk at defensive end although I also saw some Q Brown in that rotation. The tackles were Alex Lincoln and Austin Orr. The guy that stood out to me today was redshirt freshman Sid Moore who was running mostly with the second team. He's not real big, probably 260ish and he's not real tall, probably 6-1 or so, but man this kid is like a heat seeking missile on the field of play. VERY physical. Keep an eye out for him when the pads come on. There is a lot of rotation, but I liked what I saw from defensive end Daryl Mason who might be one of the best athletes on the team this year and looks to be in outstanding shape. I also like the size that Austin Orr is carrying right now. He has to be every bit of 280 and it is not fat. Another guy who caught my eye was Jerrian Roberts who showed some good speed from the outside rush. Linebackers This group is returning all-conference player Derek Akunne, and he looked great today. I spent a fair amount of time watching Oregon transfer Anthony Wallace and liked what I saw. He is bigger than Zach Orr, but I don't know if he is as quick. It's really hard to evaluate him but he looks like a guy that could excel against the run but not be as strong against the pass. Full pads will fetter that out for us. Good looking athlete for sure. I also really, really like the athleticism I saw from Fred Scott who will be battling Wallace for time. The outside spot could go a dozen different ways. More on that once we get a chance to see full pads. Defensive Backs James Jones is on the sidelines after his surgery but making a lot of noise and encouraging his teammates. Jones may not get on the field until this Fall but he sure is stepping forward as a leader on the sideline which is great. The biggest news in the secondary was a pretty heated exchange between wide receiver Carlos Harris and cornerback Kenny Buyers. I gotta say, Buyers held his own. I was just trying to get out of the way... note to Carlos, when you are fighting on the football field it isn't wise to take off your helmet. You can tell these guys can't wait to get into pads and let out some aggression. Interesting to see John Schilleci playing cornerback and I saw Coach Skladany spending time with him. The new DB coaches, Perry Carter and LaMarcus Hicks you can tell are feeling their way. Both are fairly quiet as compared to some of the more senior coaches but as with Joseph and Walters that will change in short order. Love what I am seeing out of Zed Evans at safety... he could be very good for us there and he was receiving a lot of praise from both Skladany and Carter for his play today. Beautiful sight for me was seeing #21 Freddie Warner roaming the practice field out there again. He was not wearing any type of brace which I found somewhat odd. He looks very fluid and very good thus far. He could be a HUGE boost to the secondary this season. Coaching and General Thoughts As usual, Mac was out there shaking hands with all of the visitors prior to practice starting. His energy level was sky high and the same thing for Skladany. There was more than a fair amount of fumbles today, some due to them trying out a new center but also some miscues between the QB and running backs. It happened on one play and Mac got very angry. Then it would happen again on another play and I thought Mac was going to explode. As I mentioned there was a bit of a friendly altercation between Kenny Buyers and Carols Harris and that led to one of the longest post practice Mac speeches ever. Defensive line coach Kevin Patrick is going to be very intense and I really enjoyed seeing him out there coaching with enthusiasm. I really admire and like how John Skladany will make a point to let a player know when he did something good... it is not overdone but sincere. You can tell it MEANS something to the player receiving it and is appreciated. It was neat to see Derek Thompson out there catching passes in the QB drills and kidding around with the players. The thing that stands out to me right now is the overall team speed. This is the fastest team from top to bottom I can ever recall. I was pleased with the effort and intensity. You can smell the confidence after the bowl win. As always, the real show starts when the full pads start up and we find out who is for real. I always appreciate hearing other GMG fans offer their observations and opinions during Spring training and look forward to these as practice and scrimmages unfold. GMG!
  3. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a shift in terms of what UNT is rolling out on Saturday afternoons defensively in its secondary at cornerback. Don’t expect that to change once UNT gets through its bye week. UNT head coach Dan McCarney said this week that he will continue to roll all four of his cornerbacks in during games. He also indicated that Kenny Buyers is playing better than anyone else right now. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/09/expect-to-see-a-lot-more-of-buyers-jones-at-cb.html/
  4. The service is free, but any donations given to the team will go to the football fund that provides treats to players and helps pay for the NCAA clearinghouse to allow players to transfer to NCAA schools. James Jones, a cornerback who transferred from Kilgore College to the University of North Texas this year, returned to do the service Saturday with his former teammates. Jones said he wanted the younger players to learn to serve and be appreciative of the support they are given by East Texans on and off the field. “It’s about accountability,” he said as he used a blower to pile leaves in the backyard of a home in the 1600 block of Willowview Street. “These are the same people that support the team, so we need to support them.” Read more: http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/service-event-allows-kilgore-college-football-players-to-give-back/article_4e24e9a5-8b09-5993-ac0c-d93fc086d718.html
  5. It was my understanding that the UNT AD will be releasing the press conference including the audio and so rather than recap everything that Mac said I will focus on a couple of the key points that he made… “Program got better”, a fairly generic coaching quote for signing day but seemed quite sincere… he signed 13 high school players and 5 JC’s, 20 out of 23 played high school call in the state of Texas…Alluded to K-State Coach Bill Synder in reference to the recruiting rankings saying that Snyder typically did not have the highest rates class by the services but managed to have a very good program that won with class etc…As of August 1 2013 Mac indicated that North Texas would – for the first time since he’s been here – have the full allotment of 85 scholarships…they have gone from 72 to 107 players participating in their off season workouts and the walk-on program pool is getting deeper and more talented… Mac’s big quote was “We will WILL this program to success...” Mentioned that they did not sign a punter but felt like Sulphur Springs’ Blake Macek could be that guy and they were confident enough at this stage to not give up a scholarship but reserved the right to do that later if necessary…emphasized how big an impact that strength coach Frank Wentrich was making on the entire program and how different the team looked from a physical perspective as compared to when he had arrived…Defensive tackle Dylan McDorman and end Daryl Mason both has off season shoulder surgery and won’t participate in spring but should be back in the fall…Andrew Tucker will play safety and participate in spring drills…Louisville transfer Zed Evans brother Erick will be joining the team from Seagoville as a walk-on…Juco transfer Shawn McKinney transformed from 405 pounds down to 355, he is also a very talented tennis player. He shared a story of when he was playing ball for I-A Hubbard he had some interest from Baylor and Baylor coach Art Briles actually came to watch him play in a tennis tournament that Hubbard was participating in which at his size is not something you see every day. McKinney said Wentrich had a good plan for him to keep the weight down and that part of his issue was not the type of food he ate but eating late at night which many of us can relate to...at 6-4, 340 he is a specimen physically. When I asked him about playing other positions other than center he indicated his sole focus was to solidify the center position as UNT lost their best lineman Aaron Fortenberry and they didn’t want to take any chances there…James Jones the cornerback transfer from Kilgore was a fun interview, he is a VERY accomplished player and very well spoken. He started out at Kilgore playing safety and on special teams where this last season he had three touchdowns on punt returns. In his sophomore year his coaches told him that at his size he would be better served to move to cornerback where he excelled. He was a talented quarterback at Aldine and had a lot of big school interest. I asked him about his vertical jump and if it had ever been measure because I had seen a picture of him blocking a field goal way up in the air online, and he laughed and said he tested ok on vertical but seemed to always jump higher when he needed to on the field. James is enrolling in the UNT Business School and studying business marketing. He plans to start at cornerback and also return both punts and kickoffs. That may seem fairly forward for him to say but as a Junior College All American who led his conference in punt returns he has every right to approach it that way. When I asked Jones about UNT in general he said “I Love it here!” …UT transfer Darius Terrell was my next interview and like Jones very well spoken, very polished giving thoughtful answers to my questions. Terrell has been here since the Fall semester and maintains a 3.0 average which impressed me. I asked Darius about his transfer from Texas and how the change in offense may have contributed which he agreed but he also said that the changes in the coaching staff complicated things there. I’m not going to lie, he was not pleased with the way things were handled at Texas and said his decision to go there turned out to be a “mistake”. The good news is he is very happy at North Texas and can’t wait to get on the field. Having been a cheerleader for his teammates on the sidelines all season, he said after the Western Kentucky game despite being sorry for his teams' loss he felt as “Chains had been lifted off of me...” and that he could finally start to fulfill the goals he has set for himself at the start of his college career. He made it very clear that when he had made his decision to leave Texas it was his former teammate Zach Orr that helped to convince him that North Texas was where he needed to be and then Chico Canales after that. As an aside, one thing in all of the interviews that I had was a concurrent theme that Chico Canales was a very positive influence on these players, either directly in their recruitment or indirectly during a visit etc. That was encouraging for me to hear…But back to the Terrell interview – Terrell will play on the outside at wide receiver. It does not sound like he will get his number at Texas #15 and he was not sure what his number would be. He was really excited about finally getting to play this spring and show what he could do. He looked lighter than some of the pictures I had seen and towered over James Jones to my left...Back to Shawn McKinney, he was under the radar at IA Hubbard and despite interest from Baylor he decided to go juco. Seemed to love Denton and the school. …Next up was Quenton Brown. Very impressive physical specimen, he was as tall as McKinney but much more defined. Sort of a no nonsense personality answering my questions quickly and directly but also a good sense of humor. He was a captain and leader of his Arizona junior college and while he played weak side end there he said UNT did not really have a strong or weak side position in the Skladany version of the 4-3. His father was a boxer and actually had a tryout with an NBA team. His dad was 7 feet tall but was only 6-6 when he tried out with the NBA team which I thought was interesting. I get the feeling that Tony Benford will want to become fast friends with Quenton as he told me his younger brother is the #1 shooting guard prospect in the COUNTRY out of Wheeler Georgia, name is Jaylan Brown. Quenton has been in Denton for 4 weeks. When I asked him about what he thought of Denton and UNT he said, “Nice little setup.” I brought up that he had left Central Florida and wondered if that was due to the coaching staff (as had been reported in some outlets) and he said that there were some issues with the coaching but the main reason he signed with UNT was due to a connection and belief in John Skladany from when he played under him at UCF. Brown had 9 sacks last season and he is a huge Skladany disciple in that he truly believes he can surpass those numbers in Skladany’s system...Zed Evans the Louisville transfer was up next and we talked a little bit about his bowl game experience with Louisville and how much fun it would be to get back to one with North Texas. Zed’s brother Erick Evans is a walk-on at North Texas and he is coming from Air Force. Erick is a running back. Zed will play safety and play on special teams at North Texas…Justin Manu is every bit of 6-5 and 300 pounds. He is planning to be a Kinesiology major at UNT. Manu said Chico Canales was a key component of him signing with North Texas. He said he knew that coming on the scene he would have to prove himself to his teammates but that he was a “leader” at Snow JC both on and off the field and expected to become the same here. Fairly soft spoken and quiet he was very proud of his All American Juco selection and said he owed that to his coaches and teammates at Snow. Manu said Denton was “Really Neat!” and said Frank Wentrich workouts were proving to be “challenging”. My final interview was with Andrew Tucker who was excited to be reunited with former teammates Rex Rollins and Sir Calvin Wallace. He felt Wallace could be a big part of the team at defensive tackle and seemed sincere. Tucker will play safety at North Texas and I have no doubt he has the athleticism and he reassured me that he loved the contact so it could well be a good match. Tucker is living in Victory Hall and seems to enjoy it saying he was “comfortable”. Unfortunately I did not get to have time with Brock Berglund who seemed to be like a celebrity with all of the media and flash bulbs going on around him and several other players that I would have liked to have spent time with but I really appreciated the ones I got. Thanks to UNT SID Eric Capper for this format which was very helpful in getting to know some of the new faces in the UNT football program. GMG!