North Texas football endured a busy week losing players to the transfer portal and announcing two new hires to the coaching staff. Seven players announced the decision to enter the transfer portal, eight players were confirmed to be no longer being with the team. North Texas will welcome back all-conference senior defensive end Dion Novil and senior running back DeAndre Torrey as they elected to return for the 2021 season.
As of Saturday afternoon, the team has lost 15 total players from its 2020 roster.
The seven players North Texas lost to the transfer portal were sophomore receiver Austin Ogunmakin, sophomore quarterback Jason Bean, junior running back Tre Siggers, senior safety Makyle Sanders, senior cornerback Cam Johnson, junior offensive lineman Brian Parish and freshman quarterback Greyson Thompson.
Ogunmakin finished third on the team in catches (23) and receiving yards (349) last season.
Bean during the eight games he played in threw for 1,131 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for 346 yards on 56 attempts and five touchdowns.
Siggers completed his junior season with 458 rushing yards and a touchdown on 85 carries.
Sanders leaves North Texas after leading the team with 68 tackles (44 solo tackles), in addition to two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Johnson tallied 49 tackles and two pass break-ups at the cornerback slot in 2020 while starting in nine games.
Three of the seven players found new homes where they plan on continuing their collegiate careers.
Siggers signed with cross-town rival SMU, Parish is committed to U-Mass and Thompson announced Friday his commitment to Jackson State.
Senior defensive end Joe Ozougwu elected to enter the transfer portal early on in the 2020 campaign, and announced his commitment to Arkansas State.
Four players were originally reported to no longer be a part of the team Thursday including senior running back Evan Johnson, freshman offensive lineman Erik Williams, sophomore offensive lineman Jacob Farrell and senior defensive end Asher Frow.
Johnson finished his career with 323 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 59 carries.
Farrell and Williams did not see any action during the 2020 season. Farrell was a transfer during the summer to North Texas from Oklahoma State sitting out due to NCAA redshirt ruling, and Williams was a signee of the 2020 recruiting class.
Frow recorded a tackle and a quarterback hurry in four games in 2020. He also finished the 2019 season with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and a quarterback hurry playing in 11 games. Frow was a transfer from Fullerton College (CA).
Additionally, four seniors from last season are not expected to return including running back Nic Smith, wide receiver Deion Hair-Griffin, defensive lineman Justin-Booker Brown and offensive lineman Chad Hickson. The players are currently not listed for the 2021 roster.
The athletics department officially announced new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett Friday afternoon. As of January 16, Bennett was reported on filing in the vacant role after the team parted ways with former defensive coordinator Clint Bowen earlier in the month. Bennett has experience with nine Power 5 programs as a defensive coordinator and six years as a head coach with SMU (2002-2007).
“The opportunity to get [Bennett] to lead our defense was a no-brainer for me,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “He’s been a mentor to me for several years and his wealth of knowledge and experience will benefit our entire program. Nobody can argue his credentials because he has led top-10 defenses at the highest level of college football and has a proven track record of turning those units around. I couldn’t be more excited about getting him with our student-athletes to start building a Mean Green defense that everyone will be proud of.”
The North Texas coaching staff is expected to have former Magnolia West High School head coach Blake Joseph serve as the quarterbacks’ coach. The last quarterback coach for North Texas was Tate Wallis, who subsequently resigned in September 2020. His resignation came after he was charged for having an improper relationship with a student while he was a football coach at Argyle High School in 2018 and 2019.
Joseph’s Magnolia West squad went (5-5, 4-4 5A-1 Region II 8 District) and averaged 41.8 points per game, highlighted by a 97-0 win over Caney Creek High School (Conroe, Texas).
Friday evening it was reported by Mean Green 247 Sports and Denton Record-Chronicle all-conference players Novil and Torrey would return for the upcoming season.
Novil earned First Team All-Conference USA in 2020 with 38 total tackles (22 solo), a team-high 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a quarterback hurry starting in 10 games.
Torrey was the team’s leading rusher with 656 yards and six touchdowns in the 2020 season.
Featured Image: The Mean Green runs out on the field for the game against Rice on Nov. 21, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas