Returning Receivers Have UNT Offense Riding High With Confidence

March 19, 2018

DENTON, Texas – Last season saw the Mean Green end near the top of the offensive heap in Conference USA in numerous categories.

Similar to all of his previous stops, head coach Seth Littrell saw an offensive uptick in his second year at the helm, and now his team is poised for an even bigger year three. Why? The reason is obvious.

North Texas returns four of its top five pass-catchers from a year ago, not to mention quarterback Mason Fine, who eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark and threw 31 touchdown passes a year ago.

That has everyone in spring practice excited and confident about the year ahead.

“Just looking at spring ball this year, it’s been completely different,” said junior receiver Michael Lawrence, who led UNT in both receptions (62) and yards (819) in 2017. “Our chemistry with [Fine] hasn’t skipped a beat. We’re already flying through our offense, and we are on the same page already. That’s just easier for us. From last year, we still have a lot of room to grow. We’re not at our peak yet. We have so much more potential that no one has seen yet. That’s the crazy thing. We don’t just have one player on our receiver corps. There’s four of us that Mason can pick from and our backups are good. That’s what makes us so good.”

Joining Lawrence back from last year’s banner offensive year are dynamic playmaker Jalen Guyton, who got off to a hot start last year in his first season in Denton, Rico Bussey, Jr., and speedster Jaelon Darden.

Fine said another year with all of those players has them poised for bigger and better in 2018.

“You can tell out there in spring practice that that chemistry is building between us,” Fine said. “We’re out there having more fun and joking around. It’s also just another year in the system and getting to know the playbook and just another year of getting to know the guys. As those relationships build off the field, it’s going to build on the field, too. You can see it out there.”

With Fine entering his third year under center and climbing the all-time passing list in program history, the Mean Green offense appears poised to put up even bigger numbers than the breakout campaign it enjoyed in 2017.

David Ubben, of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, said Fine is the top returning collegiate quarterback in Texas, and the junior from north of the Red River welcomes the expectations – from both outside and inside the program.

“I think we like that pressure on us,” Fine said. “We want to be the best offense in the state. It gives us something to reach for. In this offense, we can put up numbers. Last year, we saw a glimpse, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s scary to think we haven’t even reached our potential yet. We’re really excited about the future.

“I don’t want to put a roof on our expectations,” Fine added. “We can do a lot of special things.”

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UNT returns four of its top five receivers from an explosive offense last season. Below are the top returning receivers and their numbers from 2017:

 Name                 Games   Rec.   Yds   TDs 
 Michael Lawrence      14   62  819     4
 Jalen Guyton     13   49  775    9
 Rico Bussey, Jr.     13   47  677    7
 Jaelon Darden     14   32  281    3



North Texas Mean Green