UNT notebook: Mean Green down to three candidates at quarterback

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North Texas has narrowed the number of players competing to take over at starting quarterback from four to three.

Veteran backup Andrew McNulty, JUCO transfer Josh Greer and redshirt freshman Dajon Williams remain in the race heading into what will be a key Saturday scrimmage that will help determine who will start for the Mean Green in its season opener at Texas.

Freshman Connor Means was the fourth quarterback in the race entering spring practice.

“There is no timetable as to whether we will decide in the next week or two or at the end of spring,” UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales said. “We want to get it to two by the end of spring for sure or name a starter if they have earned that right and the spot.”

UNT is looking for a replacement for Derek Thompson, a three-year starter who led the Mean Green to a breakout 9-4 season and a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Thompson threw for 2,896 yards as a senior, including 256 in the bowl game. UNT’s backups barely saw the field.

McNulty and Williams each threw six passes on the season. McNulty played in eight games while Williams played in two. All six of Williams’ pass attempts came in UNT’s season-opening win over Idaho.

McNulty has the most experience at UNT among the three players left vying for the job. The Iowa native started one game in 2011 and threw for 352 yards that season.

Greer threw for 1,205 yards in six games at Navarro College in 2013 before transferring to UNT at the Christmas break.

“What we want to do in the next couple of days and in Saturday’s scrimmage is to give each reps with the 1s and 2s [first and second teams] and filter them in with the 3s when I need to. I want to give each equal reps in a scrimmage situation,” Canales said.

Canales emphasized that Means showed potential during the first few workouts of the spring but lacked the experience that put the other three quarterbacks ahead.

At this point, McNulty’s experience puts him in front.

“If we were going to play Saturday, we would start McNulty because he knows our offense inside and out with all the checks and knows what we need to do,” Canales said.

What transpires Saturday and during the rest of spring practice will determine whether McNulty hangs on to a starting job that no one has won so far.

Track and field

UNT set for Texas Relays

UNT didn’t put a lot focus on its first meet of the outdoor season last week at TCU and still came away with what coach Carl Sheffield described as a solid performance.

The outing could be a good sign for the Mean Green as it prepares for the Texas Relays this week. The meet is one of the biggest of the season.

“I was pleased with the way we competed,” Sheffield said. “We took a different approach because we knew that Texas Relays was the very next week. We trained through the week and still had some people come out with personal bests and come close to school records.”

Troy Taylor won the 800 meters in 1:53.52. Chastity Stewart finished second in the 100 hurdles in 13.61, while Tom Kalisky was second in the javelin with a throw of 57.08 meters. Mona Landry finished third in the long jump at 5.41.

Sheffield was particularly pleased with Taylor’s effort.

“Our distance runners were coming off a pretty substantial training period,” Sheffield said. “We knew he was in shape, but for him to come out with a mark like that was good.”

UNT hopes to build on its performance this week in Austin, where Taylor will run in the invitational mile on Saturday.

Charlotte Wilson will compete in the steeplechase Thursday night, which Sheffield sees as another opportunity for a UNT athlete to excel.

Stewart, Kalisky and UNT’s 800 relay team also will have a chance to fare well, Sheffield said.

Tennis

UNT back in rankings

UNT moved back into the ITA rankings this week after picking up a key win over Conference USA rival Louisiana Tech.

UNT knocked off the Lady Techsters 4-1 for its third straight win and moved to 55th in the rankings.

What might have been even better news for the Mean Green was the return of Franziska Sprinkmeyer. The junior gradually has worked her way back into the lineup since having surgery on her Achilles tendon.

Sprinkmeyer returned in doubles before beating Taly Merker 6-4, 6-2 in her singles season debut.

“Just having our two juniors and our captains out there had a calming influence,” coach Sujay Lama said of Sprinkmeyer and Kseniya Bardabush. “We are still so young and are still learning. In a year where we have faced so much adversity with losing seniors and with injuries to be 8-8 and ranked 55th shows how resilient we are.”

UNT will play host to Memphis at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Softball

UNT aims to build on streak

UNT will face a Big 12 team in a midweek contest for the second straight week when the Mean Green visits No. 22 Oklahoma at 6 tonight.

UNT (22-10, 8-1 C-USA) was swept in a doubleheader by Texas Tech last week before rebounding to sweep UTEP in a Conference USA series.

The Mean Green will play host to UAB this weekend.


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