Mean Green Open 2017 Camp
First Practice Marked By High Energy, Mild Temperatures
DENTON - On a unseasonably mild last day of July, the North Texas football team opened camp with its first practice in preparation for the 2017 season.
The defensive line had a heavy presence throughout practice, with defensive tackle Bryce English and defensive end LaDarius Hamilton making highlight moves to get to the quarterback or blow up a running play.
Overall, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell was pleased with the entire team’s spirit, but the execution looked like the first day of fall camp.
“I was very happy with the energy of the team,” Harrell said. “Execution looked like we are on day one but some of that probably was because the guys were excited to be out there.”
Some first-day observations:
- By the end of last season, senior defensive back Eric Jenkins (New Orleans) made a name for himself as a lockdown corner. Monday, Jenkins showed the prowess that made him C-USA All-Conference honorable mention a season ago with a breakup on a deep throw to wide receiver Rico Bussey, Jr., (Lawton, Oklahoma) along the sideline where Jenkins came from behind to breakup the 30-yard pass.
- Linebacker Brandon Garner (Mansfield, Texas) was all over the field. The redshirt junior seemed to have his hand in on every stop or was in the backfield putting pressure on the quarterback.
- Redshirt junior Connor Means missed all of last season due to injury, but the newly converted linebacker was one of the leaders on Monday both on the field and on the sideline. The Deer Park, Texas, native was noticeably vocal during practice and saw a majority of snaps from the jack position at linebacker.
- Fellow linebacker Joshua Wheeler (Grand Prairie), a 2016 C-USA All-Conference honorable mention selection, contained the edge all practice and had a pass breakup when he leaped along the line of scrimmage to stop a short pass intended for receiver Quinetin Jackson.
- Jackson (Granite City, Illinois) was heavily targeted by the quarterbacks and made a couple deep route over-the-shoulder catches in the back of the end zone. Jackson, a junior college transfer, played in the season opener on special teams last year but missed the rest of the season due to injury and was granted a medical redshirt.
- Quarterbacks Mason Fine (Locust Grove, Oklahoma), and Quinn Shanbour (Oklahoma City) saw the most playing time of the six signal-callers on roster. Fine was the primary starter last season and was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team. Shanbour is a redshirt junior who made his North Texas debut last season at Western Kentucky when he entered the game in the second half.
- Freshman running back Tre Siggers got lots of use Monday. He had two runs of 10 or more yards after cutting the ball to the outside and speeding fast the linebackers. The Duncanville native was a top-100 national prospect as an athlete and the 18th-best in Texas.
- Senior running back Jeffery Wilson (Elkhart, Texas) was breaking down plays and critiquing the details with younger running backs such as Siggers, Nic Smith (Arlington) and Evan Johnson (Loranger, Louisiana).
- Receiver Michael Lawrence is looking to have a breakout sophomore season. The Sweetwater, Texas, native made seven appearances for the Mean Green in 2016 but had just one catch. Monday, he was targeted in the red zone out of the slot.
- Redshirt sophomore receiver Jalen Guyton (Allen), who began his college career at Notre Dame, demonstrated his length and wingspan by making several difficult catches along the sideline.