Spring Scouting Report: Offensive Line
The Offensive Line Continues To Grow Under New Leadership
DENTON - The Mean Green are well into the second half of action during their spring practice period. One of the most significant position groups to watch this spring and into fall camp for the North Texas is the offensive line.
MeanGreenSports.com will take a look at the offensive line position as a whole, and the outlook for each of the positions. MeanGreenSports.com also took an in-depth look at the quarterbacks earlier this spring.
Head coach Seth Littrell addressed the departure of former offensive line coach Brad Davis, who is now on staff in the same capacity at Florida, by bringing aboard former Lamar offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Chuck Langston. The Beaumont, Texas, native brings many years of experience with him to Denton, and has adapted to his new role seamlessly.
First, here is what we know. Though two regular starters, center/guard Sam Rice and right tackle Trey Keenan are lost to graduation, four members of the offensive line who started at least six games are back in the fold, in senior guard T.J. Henson (10 starts), junior tackle Jordan Murray (10 starts), redshirt sophomore Elex Woodworth (eight starts), and junior interior lineman Creighton Barr (six starts). Additionally, two more returners started at least two games in 2016, redshirt senior Garrett Gunter (three starts) and redshirt junior guard Chris Miles (two starts).
That group certainly had its share of struggles, allowing a Conference USA-high 43 sacks in 13 games in 2016, but, as the season went on, the level of improvement was very evident. The running game saw some decent success at times, especially as it pertained to rushing touchdowns and explosive plays.
As far as the unknown goes, obviously Langston will provide a different voice than Davis, as he looks to build upon the solid foundation in place. Additionally, as part of the 2017 signing class, five new offensive linemen will be in Denton, come the summer. Only one of those five, junior college transfer Jevin Pahinui, is present for the spring, but reinforcements and depth are on the way. Incoming freshmen Jacob Brammer (Foster HS, Richmond, Texas), Manase Mose (Trinity HS, Euless, Texas), Dakoda Newman (Mansfield Timberview HS, Benbrook, Texas) and Brian Parish (Seguin HS, Arlington) will be key in providing that depth.
Jordan Murray – JR – 6’9” – 351
Murray (Coppell, Texas) was voted an all-conference honorable mention after his sophomore season in 2016, and appeared in 12 games for the Mean Green, including 10 starts. He shows good versatility, having spent time at left tackle and guard.
His size and athleticism project him as a great fit at tackle, and throughout the spring thus far, he has seen a lot of time with the ones at right tackle. Murray is expected to play a big role up front for the revamped North Texas line, and has been performing well thus far, in year two of the new offensive system.
Elex Woodworth – Redshirt SO – 6’4” – 278
Woodworth (Mesquite, Texas) had a very strong redshirt freshman season in 2016 for the Mean Green, making 11 appearances, starting eight games at either guard or left tackle. Woodworth has spent the majority of his time at left tackle and a bit at left guard, each with the first team during the first half of spring ball, and continues to show positive growth at both positions.
T. J. Henson – SR – 6’4” – 296
Henson (Plano) was someone who stepped in right away and filled a big need for the Mean Green at guard, following the season-ending injury of senior starting guard Garrett Gunter (more on him shortly). Henson appeared 11 times for North Texas in 2016, his first season in Denton, making 10 starts, all at guard.
The Plano native transferred to North Texas following a successful run at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. He added some stability to the line after the loss of Gunter, and he seemed to show a lot of maturation and growth throughout the course of the season. Like those listed above, Henson has spent the majority of his time running with the ones during spring ball to this point. Langston has singled him out as one of the leaders of the position group, and has been noted as someone who has helped bring accountability to the rest of the unit.
Garrett Gunter – Redshirt SR – 6’4” – 288
Gunter (Spring Branch, Texas) entered the 2016 season as a starter at guard, but was unfortunately lost for the season after just three games of action due to a knee injury. The NCAA granted Gunter a medical waiver, and he is back in the fold for 2017.
Like Henson, Gunter found his way to Denton via Trinity Valley CC. As he continues to work his way back from injury, look for Gunter to be a factor, providing leadership and depth come 2017.
Chris Miles – Redshirt JR – 6’4” – 303
Miles (Flower Mound, Texas) made eight appearances and two starts for the Mean Green last season, and was lost to a knee injury during bowl practices in December. He is now in the process of rehabbing, and is not participating during the spring practices. A player with 13 career starts under his belt, at both tackle and guard, a healthy Miles provides the Mean Green with a strong option at positions that lacked depth a year ago.
Creighton Barr – JR – 6’3” – 315
Barr (Flower Mound) made nine appearances, starting six, all at center in 2016. Barr missed some time due to injury, but is expected to again be a contributor in 2017. The majority of his reps have been at center, however he also has the versatility to fill either spot at guard if need be.
Jalen Thomas – SR – 6’5” – 292
Thomas (Detroit) saw action in two games during the 2016 season, his first in Denton. After transferring from ASA College in Brooklyn, Thomas has settled in amongst the group. He has very recently been getting an extended look at left tackle with the first team, after the coaching staff moved Woodworth inside to guard.
Wylie Reinhardt – SR – 6’4” – 308
Reinhardt (Saginaw, Texas) enters his senior season after being a key contributor in 2016 as a member of the field goal and extra point protect team, while also seeing action at guard over the course of 11 appearances. He, like Henson, has been mentioned frequently by Langston as a vocal leader amongst the position group, helping to drive accountability with his teammates. Reinhardt has seen a lot of action during the first few weeks of spring practice, primarily at guard.
Jevin Pahinui – JR – 6’4” – 268
Pahinui (Mountlake Terrace, Washington) joined the Mean Green during the mid-year signing period and enrolled in time for spring. He has adjusted well to his new surroundings and has been getting a lot of reps at center with the first and second teams. He is well-regarded in the meeting rooms by his coaches and is continuing to grow into his role with his new teammates.
Chandler Anthony – Redshirt FR – 6’7” – 279
Anthony (Tuttle, Oklahoma) seemed poised to contribute in 2016 as a true freshman, but unfortunately was injured in a fall scrimmage and missed the entire season. Now, healthy again, the Oklahoma native has been getting a lot of reps at right tackle, and has caught the eye of his coaches. The unfortunate aspect of missing the entire season a year ago, was the loss in reps, but he appears to have benefitted mightily from the time in the meeting rooms. Look for the athletic Anthony to compete for a spot on the two-deep, come fall.
Success for the Mean Green offensively in 2017 is going to be due largely in part to the continued maturation and growth of the offensive line.