Winter Workouts Conclude, Spring Practice Begins Tuesday
Spring Football Begins For North Texas
DENTON - The battle for starting jobs and playing time begins Tuesday afternoon as the Mean Green football team opens up spring practice. North Texas will conduct 15 practices spread out over a month that culminates with the Green and White game on Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. All practices and scrimmages are open to the public.
North Texas enters the spring with a lot of optimism and a lot questions on both sides of the ball. On offense the Mean Green return six starters, but must replace four veteran offensive lineman.
Andrew McNulty leads the way at quarterback after throwing for 1,295 yards and six TDs in 2014, starting the final six games. Behind McNulty are Josh Greer, Dajon Williams and redshirt freshman Connor Means.
Junior Kaydon Kirby returns as the lone starter on the offensive line. Heading into the spring, he will be flanked at guard by transfer Sam Rice on the left while transfer Brian Ochs and Connor Trussell battle it out for the right guard position.
On the edge, Michael Banogu will get the first shot at left tackle, as he started the last two games of the 2014 season. On the right side, Micah Thompson has moved from guard out to tackle and will compete with redshirt freshman Chris Miles for the starting job.
Running remains a loaded position with senior Antoinne Jimmerson and sophomore Jeffrey Wilson heading up that role. The pair combined to rush for 813 yards, and Wilson had his first 100-yard rushing game in the finale at UTSA in 2014.
Carlos Harris headlines the receivers going into the spring after 70 catches for 863 yards in 2014. Going into his senior year, Harris has 136 career receptions, the ninth most in school history, and 1,679 receiving yards, which is less than 50 yards away from the top-10. Darvin Kidsy and Turner Smiley will flank Harris heading into the spring season while redshirt freshmen Tee Goree and O'Keeron Rutherford will get plenty of looks.
At tight end, Marcus Smith enters his senior season coming off a junior year of scoring touchdowns. Nearly one of two passes Smith caught in 2014 went for touchdown.
On defense, the Mean Green has six starters back for new defensive coordinator Chris Cosh to familiarize himself with this spring.
With leading tackler Derek Akunne gone, the Mean Green have changed things up a bit at the linebacking spot. Junior Fred Scott will slide into Akunne's outside-linebacker spot, while Buffalo transfer Blake Bean is going into the spring as the No. 1 middle linebacker. Calvin Minor and Sed Ellis each return at the other outside-linebacker position.
The defensive line has a lot of experience and youth to work with this spring. The unit recorded 33 sacks in 2014, good for fifth-most in school history, and has three of its four starters back. Senior Chad Polk, an all-conference performer last season, headlines the group at defensive end. Right behind Polk is Tillman Johnson, who recorded a freshman record for sacks in 2014 with five.
The Mean Green needs to rebuild the secondary heading into 2015 having lost three starters. Senior Kenny Buyers has one cornerback spot locked down, but Jamal Marshall has moved back from linebacker to cornerback. He started his career in the secondary at NT, but played the last three seasons at linebacker. He competes with Chad Davis for the other corner spot, but transfer twins Rashad and Vershad Jackson are eligible and competing for both positions.
Special teams has virtually everyone back in 2015. Tony Johnson, who was the deep snapper in 2013, returns to that role this season. Trevor Moore, a freshman All-American at placekicker, tries to outdo his 2014 season that saw him break the school record for field goal percentage and tie the school record for most PATs without a miss in a season.
Spring football schedule
March 10 - 3:30 p.m.
March 12 - 3:30 p.m.
March 24 - 3:30 p.m.
March 26 - 3:30 p.m.
March 28- 9 a.m. (scrimmage)
March 31 - 3:30 p.m.
April 2 - 3:30 p.m.
April 4 - 9 a.m. (scrimmage)
April 7 - 3:30 p.m.
April 9 - 3:30 p.m.
April 11 - 9 a.m. (scrimmage)
April 14 - 3:30 p.m.
April 16 - 3:30 p.m.
April 18 - 2 p.m. (Green and White)
April 20 - 3:30 p.m.