Senior Day 2014: UNT v FIU

This senior day is no where near as festive as it was in 2013. That is something we’ve been saying all year. This team has had to live in the looming shadow of the greatest North Texas team in a decade and it hasn’t quite done a great job of doing so. The more reasonable among us knew that 2014 was kind of a singular year that would be difficult to reproduce, not in number of wins necessarily, but in method. The defense and special teams were all-time great. Not only did they prevent scoring at a ridiculous rate, they scored as well. The special teams blocked kicks, and returned them while covering kicks well. The defense stopped teams and scored points. The offense was really just a place holder compared to the other units.

Being human and all, it was hard not to look at last year and think “What if we had an offense that was just as good?.”

Well I think we’d get something akin to what Marshall is doing in CUSA this year.

This season hasn’t been as good. The defense isn’t as dominant and the place-holder offense would be an improvement. The special teams hasn’t had nearly the stage to shine, but they’ve been good.

And it is in that light that we say goodbye to the latest crop of seniors, some of whom were major contributors to both the greatest season in the last decade and this more disappointing one.

It is always easy to get caught up in the present struggles and forget to be appreciative for the contributions they’ve made.

Derek Akunne

North Texas has produced a good-to-great linebacker regularly. Derek Akunne follows Zach Orr, who followed Tobe Nwigwe and Craig Robertson. The list goes on.1 He has had three straight years of 90+ tackles. He leads the conference (and team, duh) with 92 so far. He’ll finish with 300+ for his career. He’s started 34 straight games

Cyril Lemon & Mason Y’Barbo & Antonio Johnson & Shawn McKinney

For all the hype the line has gotten, they still are underrated. We can only numerically define their contributions indirectly with the sacks they didn’t give up or the yardage that other guys got. Such is the life of a lineman. In their four years at North Texas they helped spring some of the more memorable rushing performances, protected Derek Thompson in a way that no other FBS QB was protected, and led the offense in the locker room. They will be missed.

James Jones

Much like MGN favorite Kenny Buyers, he stepped in to a secondary that was struggling and did an unheralded job of making the 2013 defense fearsome. He can tackle, cover, and hit. Those were the the missing pieces in the secondary that turned a bend-but-don’t-break defense into one that broke offenses and scored points. He has scored a couple of touchdowns this year and were it not for the overall poor performance of the collective, we’ be raving about his individual performance this year.

Lairamie Lee

What is there to say about HitStick Lee that hasn’t already been shouted? Another victim of a collective down year, he excelled in last year’s scheme that allowed him to play downhill. He is a turnover machines, forcing fumbles, interceptions and making the runners pay for entering his area.

Highlights:

Reggie Pegram

He nearly stole the show from UNT legend Brandin Byrd last season. Were it not for that injury, he might have had those 80-yard runs that Byrd did. This seasons he’s been slightly limited in his explosiveness. That mostly has to do with the injury. he’s still been good, a smart runner who knows when to put his head down but can still bounce it outside for big yards.

Others

WR Carl Caldwell, WR John Chelf, DS Blake Dunham, DT Alex Lincoln, DE Daryl Mason, TE Tanner Smith, WR Derrick Teegarden, WR Darius Terrell, DB Sheldon Wade

Be sure to get out to the game and if you can’t for some reason, to at least watch their last home game. Next week is when I’ll be saying goodbye in San Antonio


  1. Also Cody Spencer is there, too.