Spring Ahead….

It’s never too early to gaze into our crystal ball and look at what UNT has coming back next year. We are going to focus on only players who will be on campus for spring practice. So let’s take a look at how we would rate each unit in terms of depth and talent going into spring ball. We broke it up into four descriptions for each unit:

Starters Lost – Starting Players who are seniors

Starters Returning – Starting players who were list as a starter on the two deep depth chart and have eligibility remaining

Key Reserves – Players listed as backups on the two deep.

Wild Cards– Players we think could have an impact who were not listed on the depth chart

Keep in mind that no one — not even the coaching staff — knows what the team will look like next season. Guys who were major contributors may drop out of sight, and no-names will jump up and become major cogs in the machine. Just think about how Kenny Buyers went from walk-on roster filler to key starter in matter of months.

1. Offensive Line

Starters Lost – 1 (LaChris Anyiam)
Starters Returning – 4 (Antonio Johnson, Mason Y’Barbo, Kaydon Kirby, Cyril Lemon)
Key Reserves Returning – 5 (Ryan Rentfro, Travis Ellard, Shawn McKinney, Micah Thompson, Connor Trussell)
Wild Cards –

2. Secondary

Starters Lost – 1 (Marcus Trice)
Starters Returning – 3 (Kenny Buyers, James Jones, Lairamie Lee)
Key Reserves Returning – 3 (Zac Whitfield, Zed Evans, Sheldon Wade)
Wild Cards – 3 (Freddie Warner, Chad Davis, Peter Ashton)

3. Linebackers

Starters Lost – 2 (Zach Orr, Will Wright)
Starters Returning – 1 (Derek Akunne)
Key Reserves Returning – 3 (Jamal Marshall, Fred Scott, Sed Ellis)
Wild Cards – 2 (Anthony Wallace, Calvin Minor)

4. Running Backs

Starters Lost – 1 (Brandin Byrd)
Starters Returning – 0
Key Reserves Returning – 2 (Antoinne Jimmerson, Reggie Pegram)
Wild Cards – 2 (Mark Lewis, Rex Rollins)

5. Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

Starters Lost – 3 (Brelan Chancellor, Darnell Smith, Drew Miller)
Starters Returning – 1 (Carlos Harris)
Key Reserves Returning – 2 (Darius Terrell, Darvin Kidsy)
Wild Cards – 4 (Marcus Smith, Chris Loving, Turner Smiley, Derrick Teegarden)

6. Special Teams

Starters Lost – 2 (KR/PR Brelan Chancellor, KOS Zach Olen)
Starters Returning – 2 (P Blake Macek, K Zach Paul)
Key Reserves Returning – 2 (R Carlos Harris, R James Jones)
Wild Cards –

7. Quarterbacks

Starters Lost – 1 (Derek Thompson)
Starters Returning – 0
Key Reserves Returning – 2 (Andrew McNulty, Brock Berglund)
Wild Cards – 3 (Dajon Williams, Josh Greer, Connor Means)

8. Defensive Line

Starters Lost – 4 (Richard Abbe, Ryan Boutwell, Aaron Bellazin, Brandon McCoy)
Starters Returning – 0
Key Reserves Returning – 5 (Austin Orr, Alexander Lincoln, Chad Polk, Daryl Mason, Quenton Brown)
Wild Cards – 3 (Sir Calvin Wallace, Jarrian Roberts, Malik Dilonga)

The biggest position battle is going to come from the QB position. I don’t think that is much of a secret. It’s probably going to be the most hotly debated subject this offseason. My two cents on it right now is that Dajon Williams will come out of the battle with the job. I think he has the best skills for the offense that Coach Canales wants to run. The wild card in the battle is Josh Greer. He is built more like Derek Thompson. He is a big strong-armed kid and I think he could make this really interesting. Greer is probably the most game ready QB at the moment.

Besides the QB situation I’m interested to see who develops along the D-Line. Seems like we were having the same discussion heading into this past year, but unlike last year we are losing a ton of experience. UNT is losing a career 95 starts amongst McCoy, Abbe, Boutwell, and Bellazin. That a tremendous amount of experience and production that is leaving. The immediate five guys on the depth chart behind those four leaving (Mason, Lincoln, Orr, Polk, Brown) have a combined 13 starts to their names. The good news is that all of those 5 guys received a good bit of playing time this year. Still though UNT likes to rotate between 9 and 8 guys on the DL during a game so there are plenty of spots open for playing time. It will be interesting to see what new names make some noise coming out of spring ball.

UNT will also have to replace a lot of experienced and productive seniors in other positions as well. Most notably are LB Zach Orr, FS Marcus Trice, RB Brandin Byrd, WR Brelan Chancellor, and WR Darnell Smith. UNT has enough talent behind those guys to help replace their production, but replacing their leadership is going to prove difficult. If you just look at what UNT will by trying replacing from this year starters/key reserves production it looks like a lot.

QB- 3053 total yards; 19 total tds;

RB- 1146 total yards; 11 total tds

WR/TE- 3049 all purpose yards; 14 total tds; over 60 % of total targets for passes

OL- 13 starts

DL- 107 tackles; 25 TFL; 19 sacks; 14 QB hurries; 2 FF

LB- 202 tackles; 18 TFL; 4 sacks; 3 QB Hurries; 9 pass break-ups; 4 FR; 3 FF; 2 INTs; 1 blocked kick

DB- 112 tackles; 4.5 TFL; 1 sack; 9 pass break-ups; 5 INTs; 1 FR; 2 FF; 3 blocked kicks

Finally we will leave you with our projected depth chart:

QB 1. Dajon Williams 2. Josh Greer 3. Andrew McNulty

RB 1. Reggie Pegram 2. Antoinne Jimmerson 3. Mark Lewis

WR 1. Carlos Harris 2. Darius Terrell 3. Darvin Kidsy

TE 1. Marcus Smith 2. Chris Loving 3. Tanner Smith

OL LT Antonio Johnson LG Mason Y’Barbo C Kaydon Kirby RG Cyril Lemon RT Ryan Rentfro OL Backups Shawn McKinney Connor Trussell Travis Ellard Micah Thompson

DL DE Daryl Mason DT Austin Orr DT Alexander Lincoln DE Quenton Brown DL Backups DE/DT Malik Dilonga DE Jarrian Roberts DT Sir Calvin Wallace

LB OLB Derek Akunne MLB Fred Scott OLB Sed Ellis LB Backups Calvin Minor Anthony Wallace Jamal Marshall

Secondary CB Kenny Buyers CB James Jones SS Lairamie Lee FS Zed Evans Secondary Backups CB Chad Davis CB Zac Whitfield S Freddie Warner S Peter Ashton S Sheldon Wade