It has been said that, “lightning never strikes in the same place twice”. The 2020 UNT football recruiting class seems to be an exception to that rule. Mean Green football recruiting has been on fire under head coach Seth Littrell and there appears to be no end in sight. Despite putting together an outstanding recruiting class in 2019 the 2020 UNT class looks even more impressive on paper and is on track to become UNT’s highest rated class yet.
The one knock on Littrell - going into his third season as UNT head coach - was that he had not yet shown the ability to dominate in the recruiting game to the same level he had excelled as a coach in every other measure. A valid defense was that Littrell was more concerned about building “culture” than risking the foundation only to land a prospect or two that might have an extra star, or a few more significant offers. Even though the pressure to win starts day one, these early recruiting classes in a coach’s tenure can often have a high level of attrition and cause issues with team chemistry and leadership.
UNT was not at the top of recruiting rankings in Littrell’s first few years, he laid a foundation for a roster that has led to 3 consecutive bowl games. And though his recruiting rankings weren’t the highest, they weren’t the lowest either. He was able to show a unique ability to identify prospects that other schools missed out on. He identified all conference talents like Mason Fine, Rico Bussey and Ladarius Hamilton none of whom had the highest ratings or offer lists.
The 2019 UNT recruiting class was the turning point. This was the first time in Littrell’s tenure that had them knocking on the number 1 spot in the Conference USA rankings according to 247 Sports.
The “UNTamed20” class moniker is keeping on right where “FL19HTCLUB” of 2019 left off. We are a little over 4 months from early signing day and UNT has virtually been atop the recruiting the entire time. Here is a recap of where we stand at the middle point in August. This will be a two-part preview due to there already being 17 commits. The first part will be a breakdown and recap the nine 3-star offensive commits.
High School: Stephenville
Hometown: Stephenville, TX
The tall gunslinger from Stephenville is set to have a big senior year. UNT is going to have to work hard to hang on to this kid. He has gained a ton of interest from multiple P5 including Florida State and Ohio State. He has picked up 12 additional offers as his stock keeps climbing at the various elite QB camps.
Renfro is solid to UNT and is the creator of the #LeaveALeagacyAtUNT hashtag which has become quite popular on social media. He and Friendswood TE Christian Lee have been two of the best recruiters in the class this cycle and perhaps ever. Renfro is currently the 46 ranked pro style QB according to 247. I will assume if he stays healthy and has the type of senior year, we expect he will move up in the rankings, adding some additional offers along the way. He will be an early December 2019 enrollee and should be in competition to replace Mason Fine next year if he stays committed.
UNT Commits Kade Renfro, Loronzo Thompson and Christian Lee
High School: Cooper
Hometown: Lubbock, TX
I get asked a lot who I think the most underrated player in the class is. Well my pick so far this year is Isaiah Johnson. The 6-0 200-pounder can really do it all. He changed schools early in high school which may have put him under the recruiting radar a bit. However, after posting some big numbers in a deep run in the playoffs last year and a big senior season upcoming he will be garnering a lot more attention.
We have seen a change in philosophy in North Texas running back recruiting over the last year. The first of Seth’s tenure we saw UNT focus more on short, elusive and shifty backs (Nick Smith, Evan Johnson and Deandre Torrey). This philosophy changed last year with the addition of Oscar Adaway from Arkansas. Part of this could be due to a change in offensive philosophy stemming from struggles in short-yardage situations and on the goal-line.
Isaiah is extremely underrated and under recruited for his skill set. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his recruiting take off even more than it already has with a good senior season. The re-emphasis of the tight-end position under OC Bodie Reeder should only help Johnson and the other running backs. UNT has had an extremely good run the last 20 years at the running back position (Jeffery Wilson, Lance Dunbar etc.), and Mr. Johnson could be the next guy in line.
High School: Clear Brook
Hometown: Friendswood, TX
Loronzo was the 6th commitment to the #UNTamed20 class. He committed just 4 days after receiving a North Texas offer. It was just a perfect fit. He racked up 8 additional offers since then including Memphis, Utah and Baylor. In his junior season he accounted for 728 yards from scrimmage and seven offensive touchdowns. Thompson caught 54 passes for 613 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing 27 times for 115 yards and one TD.
Loronzo has already been working out with QB commit Kade Renfro and TE commit Christian Lee. It’s always a positive sign to see commits working together and building relationships. Rico Bussey is graduating after this season and there will be a big hole in the WR room that he could fill. Loronzo tape reminds me a lot of Rico’s high school film. Hopefully he can come in and compete as a freshman the way Rico did.
High School: Friendswood
Hometown: Friendswood, TX
Lee was the 4th commit in the UNTamed20 class. He has been described as a swiss army knife and a matchup nightmare for his opponents. He can block like a tight end but also runs routes like a wide receiver. Seth has had great success with tight ends each of his stops in his coaching career leading up to the UNT job. Rob Gronkowski is the main one that comes to mind but there are several other good ones as well.
The first three seasons of Seth time at UNT the tight end has been relatively underutilized. This like the size of running backs is changing in 2019 and going forward. Tight Ends will be used early and often in the new offensive scheme under Coach Bodie Reeder. Christian has been the ringleader in terms of recruiting #UNTamed20 and has already established himself as a Mean Green fan favorite. He has been extremely active on social media and a become a key leader for this class. Lee has complied 6 other offers including La Tech and Texas State, with likely more to come.
High School: Norman North
Hometown: Norman, OK
Roberts is the most recent addition to the Mean Green recruiting class on the offensive side of the ball. North Texas was able to flip him away from a prior Tulsa commitment. He is more of a prototypical tight end bringing outstanding size and a big frame with room to get huge.
Roberts was a hot commodity, compiling six other impressive offers including Colorado, Memphis and Tulsa. He is already an exceptional blocker and ranked as one of the top players in the entire state of Oklahoma.
The fact UNT is bringing in two tight ends in this class is a testament to the fact they plan on using tight ends even more moving forward. Seth - being a native Oklahoman himself - has had terrific success recruiting the Sooner state and we expect that trend to continue with the addition of assistant coach and UNT Hall of Famer Patrick Cobbs who hails from Tecumseh.
High School: Coronado
Hometown: Lubbock, TX
High School: Magnolia
Hometown: Magnolia, TX
High School: The Woodlands
Hometown: The Woodlands, TX
High School: Madison Southern
Hometown: Berea, KY
The offensive line is arguably the hardest position to recruit in the G5 ranks. Big guys that are physical, have wheels and can carry weight are rare. It takes a warrior’s mindset to deal with the physical demands of life in the trenches.
It is a position where you must gauge potential and then develop and nurture. The fact UNT has 4 quality offensive line commits this early in the recruiting game is huge. All four commits are 3 star rated players and have combined for over 12 FBS offers. What’s even more important is all of them are good people, who come from great families and programs.
Very few G5 offensive linemen can come in as freshman and play right as you would prefer to give them a redshirt year and put them in the weight room. There are some exceptions to the rule. Manase Mose came in and started from day one but he’s a unique case. For the most part they take time to develop. North Texas is starting to reap those development dividends this year with the progression of tackles Jacob Brammer and Brian Parish. Commitment Erik Williams is a high-upside tackle prospect. Big frame, with room to grow, long wingspan and great feet. This guy could be 6-6, 300 plus before all is said and done. Yet, he is still raw at the position. He split time last year between OT and DE. But with a 6-5 frame and raw athletic ability he has the potential to be very special.
North Texas has two guards committed currently in Jett Duncan and Kade Bond. With current seniors Thomas Preston and Elex Woodworth graduating after the season both recruits will have the ability to compete for playing time very early in the process. Guards seem to be able to adjust from High School ball to College ball the quickest. Manase Mose made the quick adjustment and so did Mason Y’Barbo before him. So, it is not out the realm of possibilities to see either come in and play soon.
The fourth commit along the offensive line hails from the “Bluegrass” state of Kentucky which is not a state UNT dips into that often. Dane Jackson the lone Kentucky Native and center commit in the class. North Texas has added some Kentucky flavor to the coaching staff since Seth arrived. First was Wide Receiver Coach Tommy Mainord followed by Director of Staff Luke Walerius, and later adding Tommy Mangino this offseason. Dane is the younger brother to Drake Jackson former 4-star recruit and current Kentucky player. With Sosaia Mose graduating after the season there will be an opening at the center position next year and UNT is hoping Jackson can step right in.
Stay tuned for part 2 with the defensive commits.