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Friday, July 30, 2021

Junior wideout Jaelon Darden headlines as Conference USA announces All-Conference selections

Article Originally Published by Matthew Suarez on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

On Tuesday, Conference USA announced their selections to their All-conference teams featuring North Texas junior wideout Jaelon Darden, who was named to All-Conference First Team. Darden saw an uptick in production this season after senior wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. suffered a season ending ACL injury against California in September.  

The third year wideout is coming off a season where he had single-season highs in catches(76), receiving yards (736) and touchdown catches (12) — leading the team in all three categories. Compared to the rest of C-USA, Darden was first in touchdown catches, second in catches and receptions per game (6.3) and 10th in yardage. 

North Texas had three athletes make the All-Conference Second Team in senior quarterback Mason Fine and senior offensive lineman Elex Woodworth. In  concert with redshirt junior wideout Deion Hair-Griffen, who leads the nation in kick return average (40.8 per return), got the Second-Team All-Conference nod as a kick returner. He returned one kick off for 96 yards in the season opener against Abilene Christian and tallied five +50 yard returns on the year. 

Despite Fine taking a step down from last season’s offensive production. He led C-USA in passing touchdowns (12) and was third and fifth in passing yards (3,008) and completion percentage (62.1). In regards to his offensive line, Woodworth got the starting 10 times this season and was asked to either play left guard or tackle. After playing 704 snaps, Pro Football Focus has Woodworth graded at a 76.3 in pass protection and was responsible for allowing 16 pressures and two sacks. 

The Mean Green had three players garner C-USA All-Freshman honors in wideout Jyaire Shorter, linebacker Kevin Wood and defensive lineman Dayton LeBlanc. 

For Shorter’s first season catching passes for North Texas, he ended the season second on the team with nine touchdowns. He was also third on the team in both receiving yards (473) and catches (24). Shorter’s nine touchdown catches were the second most receiving scores in C-USA behind Darden’s 12. 

In Wood’s debut season he made 12 appearances and got the starting nod for one later in the season against Rice. He tallied 17 tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two tackles for loss.

LeBlanc managed to make a name for himself after switching between defensive end and tackle. Pro Football Focus had the freshman defensive lineman graded with a 73 which was the sixth highest grade compared to other North Texas defenders. LeBlanc made 12 appearances this season and ended with 30 tackles (13 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Featured Image: Junior wide receiver Jaelon Darden stands in the beam of the setting sun during the second half at the game against Texas-El Paso on Nov. 2, 2019. Photo by Jordan Collard

Source: North Texas Daily

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