After a tough 1-6 start to the season, the Mean Green won their last 5 regular season games and earned a bowl bid in 2021. Head coach Seth Littrell has posted a 37-38 record in his 6 seasons in Denton, with 4 bowl appearances (and 4 bowl losses). Things have taken a downturn in the 2 seasons following star Quarterback Mason Fine’s graduation in 2019. However, a new season brings new hope, and some new faces on the North Texas campus are hoping to provide some stable success for a fan base that has waited a long time for it. Here are some new additions to keep an eye on in 2022 and beyond.
Cam Robertson, EDGE
Robertson is one of the highest rated recruits to ever commit to North TexasCam Robertson is a player that North Texas recruited heavily throughout his Senior year. As Robertson told Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle, “They contact me two or three each week and were always checking up on me”. Robertson, who is 6’4″ and 230 lbs, finished his senior season at Plano High with 11.5 sacks, and more than 30 TFLs. As it stands, Robertson is the 7th highest rated recruit ever signed by UNT according to 247 Sports. With the loss of star defensive lineman Grayson and Gabriel Murphy to UCLA, the front seven is needing some new blood. Robertson certainly shows he has the pedigree to take the unit to another level as he grows in Denton.
Qualon Farrar, Running Back
In 2021, longtime backfield staple Deandre Torrey ran for 1213 yards and 13 touchdowns. While this kind of production will be hard to replace, 2022 signee Qualon Farrar is hoping to be the man to do it. Clocking in at 5’7″ (the same measurement as Torrey), Farrar is coming off of a state championship season at South Oak Cliff in Dallas. Impressively, Farrar rushed for 1032 yards on only 110 carries, which comes out to 9.38 yards per carry to go along with 16 touchdowns on the ground. Farrar chose North Texas over offers from Houston, Tennessee, and Missouri, and also comes in as the 19th highest rated recruit in UNT history according to 247 Sports. With a championship pedigree and the production to match, don’t be surprised if Qualon Farrar becomes a fan favorite in Denton just like his predecessor Torrey was.
Dameon Smallwood and Howard Sampson, Offensive Lineman
You can never have enough big men playing in the trenches, and UNT brings in a couple of very big men to hold down the fort. Smallwood measures in at 6’4″, 330 lbs, with Sampson playing at 6’8″, 330 lbs. From these sizes, it’s fair to assume Smallwood will play on the interior with Sampson occupying a spot as an offensive tackle. The pair also takes up the #79 and #94 highest rated signees ever brought in to the Mean Green fold according to 247 Sports. Whether the two see much time on the field as Freshman remains to be seen, but if their talent is even half as big as they are, the pocket will consistently be one of the safest places in Denton.
Grant Gunnell, Quarterback
North Texas will be the third team Gunnell will suit up for, but he’s hoping it will be the first team to give him a chance to shine. Coming out of high school, he received offers from top tier programs such as Georgia, Ohio State, and Alabama. He signed to play for Arizona, and during his first two years as a Wildcat he saw only a little playing time, albeit with big results. In 20 appearances, he threw 1864 yards and 15 touchdowns, with only 3 interceptions going against him. However, he could not lock down a starting job going into his third season, so he transferred to the Memphis Tigers where he spent two seasons without seeing a single snap. He again entered the transfer portal, and will be calling Denton home for the final two years of his eligibility.
The talent is obviously there, as is the pedigree. All he needs is a chance to show he can put it together as the man in charge. This may be difficult however, as he will need to usurp returning starter Austin Aune as QB1. Aune, himself a former transfer from Arkansas, seemed to have the job all but locked up going into 2022. However, the addition of Gunnell has made this less certain. At the very least, it will be interesting to see if the addition of Gunnell pushes Aune to a new level of production as the starter. Alternatively, it is a possibility that Gunnell takes the reigns at some point and is finally able to show why he received offers from those top tier programs coming out of high school. Either way, it’ll be fun to see how this QB controversy shakes itself out.
Latrell Neville and Jay Maclin, Wide Receivers
Regardless of who wins out between Gunnell and Aune, they will need someone to throw the ball to. Luckily, two new talents will be suiting up in Mean Green uniforms this Fall. Neville, who is 6’4, joins the team by way of Nebraska, where he did not play a single snap his freshman year. Maclin measures at 5’11”, and is transferring over from Missouri. If reading about a wide receiver named Maclin from Missouri starts ringing any bells, it’s because he is the cousin of former Philadelphia Eagles Pro-Bowler Jeremy Maclin, who spent two record breaking seasons as a Tiger in 2007 and 2008. Ideally, Jay will be able to carry on the family legacy and dominate the college game now just like Jeremy. Interestingly, Maclin also retains four years of eligibility, so hopefully we’ll be able to see this duo light it up on Saturdays for years to come.
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