DENTON, Texas (4/5/09) 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 special teams, today we look at two spots, the running backs and safeties. E-mail Q&A are at the bottom. Click Here To Submit Questions
Running backs coach Shelton Gandy has to be one of the most content coaches on the staff heading into the 2009 season. At his disposal is perhaps the best combination of talent and experience that North Texas has ever featured in the offensive backfield.
The Mean Green returns all of its running backs from the 2008 season, including two who missed most of the year with injuries. As a group, the North Texas running backs averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year, which is the best average since 2004 when Jamario Thomas and Patrick Cobbs were featured in the backfield. Senior Cam Montgomery will be the featured back after emerging as one of the best running threats in the Sun Belt Conference last season.
Montgomery averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2008 and fell just 72 yards shy of becoming only the ninth back in North Texas history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a season despite playing in a pass-first offense. Montgomery earned the majority of the work with the first team offense during spring practice and did not disappoint with several remarkable runs.
Also back in the mix for 2009 will be Micah Mosely who was second on the team in rushing in 2008 as a true freshman. Mosely suffered a shoulder injury after playing in just five games last season and spent the spring season working his way back to good health. He is expected to be 100 percent for the fall and will try to earn his way back on the field amongst some fierce competition from the young stable of backs.
North Texas coaches are also excited about the future of the running backs after the emergence of true freshmen Lance Dunbar and James Hamilton in 2008. Dunbar gave the coaches legitimate reason for their optimism when he exploded onto the scene before suffering a season-ending injury after just five games. Dunbar finished second on the team in rushing despite playing in less than half the games. The other bright spot last season came with the development of James Hamilton who added a different dimension to the ground attack.
Hamilton is an elusive runner who averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his reserve role last season. Hamilton will be a change of pace running back from the other three, allowing the coaches to use him in various capacities. And if four proven backs aren’t enough to secure the position, you might look at Jeremi Mathis who spent the 2008 season as a redshirt.
Mathis showed tremendous promise on the scout team during the fall and will be available to add to the incredibly deep position heading into 2009.
If there was a younger position on the field for North Texas than the safety spot last season it was hard to find. The Mean Green worked in a whole new lineup that started to mesh late in the season and promises to be an area of impact this season. North Texas goes into the 2009 season with
One of those players was the big-hitting Darien Williams. He caught the eye of the coaches early and started 11 games last season and was right behind Hill with 61 tackles. With a year of experience under his belt and the system of defensive coordinator Gary DeLoach in place for a year, Williams is poised for a breakout season. He will battle fellow sophomore John Shorter for playing time at the strong safety spot. Shorter saw quite a bit action at the safety spot and made big strides late in the season that caught the attention of everyone.
Both players provide something special and the battle heading into the season is possibly the most exciting one to keep up with.
Sliding over this season from cornerback to the free safety spot this year will be DaWaylon Cook. The talented player is a natural safety who has the potential to be a playmaker at the position. Defensive coordinator is very high on Cook for many reasons but he covers more ground than perhaps any other North Texas player in the secondary.
Veteran Robbie Gordon gives the Mean Green a player who knows the system and can provide the needed depth that North Texas needs in the secondary.
The secondary was one area that Coach Dodge targeted in recruiting and the safety position is one spot that will have plenty of options to choose from come the 2009 season.