UNT: Mid-Major Powerhouse?

I never thought I would see the day when any Sun Belt team would make ESPNews for anything other than a spare conference game score. But with last week’s hiring of former UT quarterback and outgoing Southlake Carroll HS coach Todd Dodge to be the head coach at North Texas, the Mean Green were in regular rotation on the ticker at the bottom of the screen. And I suspect it won’t be the last time we see them on the Worldwide Leader.

Trae Thompson wrote a piece yesterday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the impact Dodge will have on recruiting in this area. Given the spread offense that Dodge made famous at Carroll, and his ability to have tremendous success with undersized skill position players, I thought from the get-go that his hiring had the potential to shift the balance of power in DFW recruiting. Therefore, it is not surprising to see a quote like this surface in Thompson’s article:

South Grand Prairie wide receiver Trae Johnson has drawn interest from nine colleges but has no offers.

When he heard that Carroll High School coach Todd Dodge was named head coach at North Texas on Tuesday, it became a school to consider.

“Now that he’s there, yes, I would,” said Johnson, a Star-Telegram Area 50 recruit who caught 34 passes for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns. “That offense is based around receivers, and, whew, that’s big.”

Thompson notes Dodge’s extensive high school coaching connections in Texas, and lists a few other potential recruiting targets from the DFW area, including Euless Trinity’s Marcus King, who was the best receiver on the field in the recent playoff showdown between Carroll and Trinity. King put up decent numbers in Trinity’s run-oriented offense, and there’s no telling what he could do with a coach like Dodge. Considering that Carroll, despite its immense success, has surprisingly few major D-I recruits, it seems almost certain that Carroll players will flock to play in Denton.

Perhaps UNT will follow a path similar to that of the University of Houston. Art Briles became head coach of the Cougars prior to the 2003 season, and after four years, has led U of H to the Conference USA title while running a pass-happy offense. Briles, of course, was previously the head coach at Stephenville High School, where he won four state championships in twelve years.

I know nothing about the talent level at the University of North Texas. But in a conference like the Sun Belt, it would seem that a new coach, a new system and a new attitude will go a long way towards putting UNT football on the map. This is a huge hire for the Mean Green.

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