New North Texas head coach Dan McCarney didn't know much about Derek Thompson when he first arrived in Denton back in November.
No one did, really.
Thompson played one series in his first season at UNT and lasted less than a half in his only start against Army a year ago before breaking his leg.
That limited track record made spring practice arguably more important for the former Glen Rose standout than anyone on UNT's roster. Thompson's performance in the Green team's 27-17 win over the White on Saturday in UNT's annual spring game at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex was the latest indication that he has taken advantage of his opportunity.
Thompson threw for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 15 of his 20 attempts.
By the time Thompson had finished up for the day, McCarney felt a lot more comfortable with him than he was just a few months ago.
"Derek was consistent, had a good look in his eye, threw the ball well and threw with accuracy," McCarney said. "He is clearly our starter going into camp on Aug. 4."
Thompson competed throughout the spring with junior college transfer Brent Osborn, who struggled while completing five of his 15 attempts for 19 yards.
Thompson played with the Green team that consisted of UNT's first and fourth team offenses and defenses, while Osborn played with the White team that included the second and third teams. The White team started out with a 17-0 lead, but couldn't stop Thompson or get anything going offensively.
"I did everything I wanted to get done in the spring," Thompson said. "[Offensive coordinator Mike] Canales put me in position to be successful. I was in a zone today. I wanted to finish strong."
Thompson did just that while completing his first six pass attempts. He connected with Brelan Chancellor for a 34-yard touchdown strike and later hit Darius Carey from 9 yards out.
Chancellor caught two passes for 46 yards, while Mike Outlaw posted six receptions for 56 yards.
There was little doubt Thompson was the star of the day, though.
That might have been the best news to come out of spring practice for UNT, which had four players start at quarterback last season. The Mean Green lost senior Nathan Tune to a dislocated hip in the second game of the season, lost Thompson a week later and was forced to play Riley Dodge and Chase Baine before the year was over.
Thompson brought some stability back to the position during spring practice.
"Derek has made major strides," McCarney said. "I got to see a little tape on him. He was injured early last year, so I didn't know what to expect. He has poise, strength, talent and physical and mental toughness. He has lots and lots of room to improve. He has respected the ball and taken care of it. He did a good job making decisions today."
Thompson is hoping his performance is a sign of what is to come this fall now that he is back at full strength following his injury last season.
"It was a long recovery, but I am back and ready to move forward," Thompson said.
His performance on Saturday ensured he will move forward as UNT's starter.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.