When it comes to the college football calendar, late February and early March might not seem like a key time.
Bowl games are over, national signing day is in the books and spring practice has yet to begin.
What looks like a dead period is anything but that for some of the top prospects in the state and schools like North Texas, which today will host a junior day event.
UNT is expecting dozens of high school players to spend a few hours on campus running though drills and learning about the school, while the Mean Green’s coaching staff gets to know more about them.
“Junior days are important at any place in the country, but we have made a lot of improvements with what we have at North Texas,” UNT head coach Dan McCarney said. “Players know what to expect at [Oklahoma] and Texas. They are surprised with what they see here. We can go from no shot to having a really good shot with players. We can start building relationships, which is the key to recruiting.”
UNT is entering its third season at the $79 million Apogee Stadium, and its first as a member of Conference USA.
UNT spent 12 seasons in the Sun Belt Conference, where it was the only Texas school.
Rice, UTEP and Texas-San Antonio, not to mention regional rivals Tulsa and Louisiana Tech, will join UNT in C-USA next season.
UNT will have a chance to show high school players its new stadium and sell them on the idea of playing for the Mean Green. That opportunity is vital for schools like UNT.
“This is a time when mid-major programs show what they have to offer,” ESPN Midlands recruiting analyst Damon Sayles said. “UNT can show prospects what they have, what they want to do and separate themselves. Junior days are like an open house for college football programs.”
Several members of UNT’s 2013 recruiting class attended either the Mean Green’s junior day or one of its summer satellite camps leading up to national signing day.
Pflugerville Connally quarterback Dajon Williams participated in UNT’s junior day last year and signed with the Mean Green a few months later.
UNT also stages a series of satellite camps across the state over the summer. Those camps give UNT’s coaches a chance to see top prospects closer to their hometowns.
UNT will get a better idea of which players it will invite to those camps this weekend, when the Mean Green will host several players who could end up being a part of its 2014 recruiting class. UNT is hoping that class will provide an influx of talent that will help the Mean Green continue to build its program under McCarney.
UNT finished 5-7 in its first year under McCarney before going 4-8 last year.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.