DENTON, Texas (4/4/09) Today MeanGreenSports.com continues a position-by-position breakdown of the North Texas football team in the spring and where it’s headed in the fall. Along the way we welcome your questions about each position and we answer them the following day. Yesterday it was the wide receivers, today we look at the guys who cover them, the cornerbacks. We also have cornerbacks Coach Buckels in our "He said it" segment for your listening pleasure. E-mail Q&A are at the bottom. Click Here To Submit Questions
If there is one area of the Mean Green secondary that grew up during the year last season it was the cornerbacks. Senior Antoine Bush has taken the mantle of “lock down” cornerback but opposite his side last year was a wide eyed freshman in Royce Hill. It was a struggle for the first few weeks but the final four weeks of the season saw the Mean Green pass defense allow just 224 yards through the air to go along with seven interceptions. Compare that to the first eight weeks of the year that had North Texas give up over 344 yards a game with just two interceptions, and the improvement down the stretch was easy to seen.
Bush is in line for another all-conference season as he has 31 starts since his freshman season and is the veteran presence that North Texas has needed.
Hill, after getting picked on through the first month of the season, gained confidence and began showing his playmaking abilities towards the end of the 2008 season. Hill has made tremendous strides and enters the season with a confidence and consistency that the coaches have not previously seen.
After missing the first three games of the season, Adryan Adams made his way into lineup and had an immediate impact. He finished the year with 25 tackles but provided much needed depth and will be counted on heading into the 2009 season. Newcomers Ira Smith and Justin Chatman can also be talked about making their way into the rotation after spring ball has shown their abilities.
Smith is a highly touted cornerback who brings blazing speed to the secondary along with a championship pedigree. He was quite active in the spring making numerous plays that has caught the attention of many. Chatman is a transfer who has returned to the metroplex area after spending a season at Minnesota. Chris Neal contributed on special teams and will battle to help round out the two-deep roster heading into the fall.
JD from Houston
Q: Thanks for the article on the WR's, but you failed to mention a few recruits that I had high hopes for. Can you give an update on Desmond Brigham and Kenny Barrett, and will Forrest Rucker return to the team?
A: Good question because those two guys have had excellent springs. The way they are being brought along is actually to their benefit, as opposed to tossing two young guys to the fire and possibly shaking their confidence. Barrett and Brigham are both going to get opportunities to play but with experience at the WR spot they won’t have to carry the load this year. Both guys will get chances to crack the two-deep in the fall but with Outlaw going down with an injury, Brigham has had some opportunities late in the spring with the first and second-teams. Can’t get into anything related to the last player for obvious reasons.
Lee from Mount Vernon
Q: With another spring in the defensive philosophy, and with still a young defensive 2-deep, how much do you think the defense has come this spring?
A: Tremendous strides have been made on the defensive side of the ball. And it really started towards the end of the last year but the young kids that you mention are still young but now have a year-under their belts. Just think of the youth right now, R. Hill (Sophomore), D. Cook (Sophomore, J. Shorter (Sophomore), D. Williams (Sophomore), J. Phillips (Freshman), B. Akpunku (Sophomore), T. Franklin (Sophmore), T. Cantly (Freshman).
I’m sure I’m leaving someone out but all of those names will be key players next year and all look a lot more comfortable in the system with a year of seasoning.
Sean from Houston
Q: How does the SS and S positions look and will the incoming freshman have a shot to crack the line up.I watched the kid DeAndre Stewart (S) play he was a steal for UNT. And what about the kid out of dr he was a steal also.Go Mean Green
A:Moving DaWaylon Cook to the safety position was a brilliant move. He is a natural safety and covers more ground than any other guy in the secondary. John Shorter and Darien Williams are both playmakers, Williams also being a big hitter. Beyond Robby Gordon being back there, the rest of the safety spot is a little thin so Stewart is going to have a great chance to crack he two-deep in the fall. And were not sure who your referencing in the DR signing either.