DENTON, Texas - Spring officially arrives on March 20 and so does North Texas spring football. North Texas opens up its third spring football season under head coach Dan McCarney Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. It will be the first practice of 15 in the spring season and all practices and scrimmages are open to the public.
The Mean Green prepares for its first season in Conference USA in 2013 and welcomes back 38 letterwinners from 2012. North Texas has four all-conference players returning in 2013, Zach Orr, Zac Whitfield, Cyril Lemon and Mason Y'Barbo.
On offense North Texas has eight returning starters led by quarterback Derek Thompson, running back Brandin Byrd, and three starting offensive lineman.
Thompson passed for 2,649 yards last season and 14 touchdowns. He enters the 2013 with 4,551 career passing yards, which ranks sixth all-time at North Texas. Brock Berglund, a Kansas transfer who was rated as the 13th best dual-threat quarterback in the nation in 2011, is eligible this season.
Byrd led the Mean Green in rushing last year with 875 yards and four touchdowns. Antoinne Jimmerson is back after rushing for 544 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games last season as a freshman. Jimmerson also had 12 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Reggie Pegram, who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue, is also expected to compete for playing time in the backfield.
North Texas returns five of its top six receivers from 2012, led by Darnell Smith who had 28 catches for 379 yards. Brelan Chancellor, the third leading receiver, is back in the lineup as well after missing the final four games of the season with an injury. In addition Darius Terrell, a Texas transfer and Parade All-American, will be eligible this season.
The offensive line must replace starting center Aaron Fortenberry, but the line returns all-conference players Lemon and Y'Barbo along with Antonio Johnson. The trio has combined to make 71 career starts.
Defensively middle linebacker Zach Orr anchors the Mean Green defense. He racked up a career-high 108 tackles last season and was a second-team all-conference selection.
Entering his second season, NT defensive coordinator John Skladany wants to build on the improvement after his first year. The Mean Green allowed the fewest points a game since 2006 and held four teams to 14 points or less for the first time since 2003.
Whitfield, as a freshman, had 12 PBU's on the season, which led the league and ranked 24th in the nation. Whitfield was the only freshman in the nation to average 1.25 passes defended. Whitfield had a team leading three interceptions in 2012. Joining Whitfield in the secondary this spring are returning starters Hilbert Jackson, Marcus Trice, and Lairamie Lee.
Along with the three FBS transfers, North Texas already has six signees from February enrolled and set to participate in spring drills. Quenton Brown, Zed Evans, James Jones, Justin Manu, Shawn McKinney and Andrew Tucker will all take part in spring practice.
Spring practice continues through April and there will be two scrimmages held, March 30 and April 6 at Apogee Stadium. Spring practice will culminate on April 13 with Spring game held at Apogee Stadium at 2 p.m.
2013 Spring Football practice schedule
March 20 - 3:30 - 6:00 p.m.
March 22 - 3:30 - 6:00 p.m.
March 23 - 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
March 25 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
March 27 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
March 29 - TBA*
March 30 - TBA* (scrimmage)
April 1 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
April 3 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
April 5 - TBA*
April 6 - TBA* (scrimmage)
April 8 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
April 10 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
April 12 - 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
April 13 - Spring game* 2:00 p.m.
*- Apogee Stadium
Dates and times are subject to change