North Texas football completed the 2020 recruiting front with the No.-2 signing class for Conference USA and No. 68 nationally, both the highest in program history.
Of the 20 total players in the signing class, the Mean Green signed three junior college transfers in Devontae McCray, Anterrious Gray and Teeshaun Turpin who plan to make an immediate impact with the team.
Head coach Seth Littrell said the transfers are making the best of their situation while arriving in the latter part of the summer instead of the spring due to the shutdown of school athletic activities in March.
“I think all of them are only going to get better as we move forward,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “We didn’t have a spring camp with these guys and I think they’ve learned our systems very well to this point. I think they’ll be more comfortable when they get where they need to be, they’ll just be able to turn it loose and be just fine.”
DL Devontae McCrae, 6-foot-4, 256 lbs (East Mississippi Community College)
McCrae comes to North Texas after transferring from East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Mississippi. The football program is well-known for being featured in the Netflix series “Last Chance U” in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He redshirted his freshman season at North Carolina State before transferring.
The 6-foot-4 defensive end was rated a 3-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN. McCrae was No. 37 on the ESPN Junior College Top 50 prospects and ranked No. 33 by Rivals.
In his lone season at East Mississippi College, he recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
McCrae says the transition from the junior college level to the division one level has played in his favor, feeling like a part of the team early on. His plans for the 2020 season are to become a top nationally recognized college defensive player.
“My transition from [junior college] to North Texas has been really nice and the entire team is like a brotherhood,” McCrae said. “All of the guys have been easygoing, and all of my coaches are genuine and very caring of us as more than just ballplayers. I’m very comfortable and happy to be [at North Texas]. My goal for the 2020 season is to be recognized nationally as a top defensive end in college football when the season is done.”
In the two games this season for North Texas, McCrae started in both and recorded one tackle against Houston Baptist on Sept. 5.
Senior captain and defensive end Dion Novil says McCrae makes an impact on the defensive side of the ball as a vocal leader and bringing energy to the defensive line core.
“He brings a lot of energy and he’s not afraid to call anyone out who’s not doing their job,” Novil said. “On defense, he gives 100 percent effort on every single play and will definitely call out guys who aren’t going hard.”
OL Anterrious Gray, 6-foot-2, 307 lbs (Northwest Mississippi Community College)
Gray, the first of the junior college commit of the trio, signed with North Texas back in December 2019 as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports.
The 6-foot-2 offensive guard came from Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi. The Rangers football program has produced numerous NFL players, including current Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew.
He was ranked the No.-9 junior college guard in the nation by 247 Sports Composite. The Rangers rushed for 2,830 yards in 2019 under Gray’s efforts leading to an 8-3 season, making it to the MACJC championship game.
Gray started and appeared in the two games for North Texas this season. The offense broke a school record for total yards offensively with 721 against Houston Baptist and 517 yards against Southern Methodist.
Littrell says Gray played well in the opening game against Houston Baptist for his first appearance in a division one contest.
“[Gray] is a guy up front who really had his first serious start [against division one opponents],” Littrell said. “I know he was really excited, but at the same time you’re going to have some first-time jitters just like any starter, but I thought he settled in well and played pretty solid overall.”
Gray says the biggest transition from the junior college to division one level is getting used to the speed of the game. His goal for the season is to prove he can make a difference for the team and prove he belongs with the rest.
“I think the biggest difference is the speed of everything because it all moves fast,” Gray said. “My biggest goal for this season is to show everybody that I belong here, that I’m very talented and deserve to play on this level, including the next.”
OL Teeshaun Turpin, 6-foot-4, 316 lbs. (Long Beach City College)
Turpin was the latest of the junior college trio to commit to North Texas, doing so two days before signing day on Feb. 5, 2020. He originally committed to Tennessee-Martin out of high school, later transferring to Long Beach City College.
The school’s athletics program has produced multiple NFL players and NBA players throughout their history, including actor and former Oakland Raiders linebacker Carl Weathers.
The 6-foot-4-inch offensive tackle from Long Beach City College was rated as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports. Turpin’s offensive line helped pave the way for the Viking’s rushing attack to average 196.2 rushing yards per game in the 2019 season.
Similar to offensive line counterpart Gray, Turpin says the speed of the game at the division one level is faster and playing at a higher level requires more time management.
“The biggest difference to me so far is the scheduling — meaning multiple meetings per day, grinding early mornings and late nights,” Turpin said. “I thought my junior college played fast but it’s a different type of fast. My season goals are to compete for a spot, be the best teammate I can be to help out my new family and to be the best I can be.”
Littrell says he has confidence in the group of experienced college players settling into the first four weeks of the season and expects them to play a role on each side of the ball.
“I think these guys are just getting settled in and they’ll be much better moving forward [this season]” Littrell said.
Featured Image: Redshirt freshman running back Oscar Adaway III runs past defenders to score a touchdown against Houston Baptist on Sept. 5, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas