Over the course of his career, North Texas coach Dan McCarney pretty much has seen it all when it comes to the personalities and confidence levels of players.
McCarney has coached quiet guys and loud guys, confident guys and guys who needed encouragement.
Then there’s Darvin Kidsy.
Even McCarney, who got into the coaching business in 1977, had never encountered anything quite like the UNT freshman receiver.
“He’s really confident,” McCarney said. “He called me more than any of the signees did, and it continued once he got here and camp was going on. Most of the time it’s coaches calling student-athletes, reminding them of this or making sure that they are here on time for that. He wasn’t kissing my rear end. He wanted to tell me about how this could be one of our better freshman classes and how he could help us on the field.”
The best part for UNT is that Kidsy has backed up all that bravado and worked his way toward the top of the Mean Green’s wide receivers rotation heading into a game at ninth-ranked Georgia on Saturday.
Kidsy and junior Darius Terrell are listed as co-backups behind starting wide receiver Carlos Harris. Kidsy, a former Missouri City Elkins standout, has caught eight passes for 89 yards, totals that rank fourth on the team.
Kidsy, who is listed at 6 feet and 174 pounds, had his best game last week in a win over Ball State, catching four passes for 47 yards, including two key grabs on a touchdown drive late in the first half after the Cardinals had gone up 27-9.
Kidsy caught a 24-yard strike from Thompson on the first play of the possession and later caught a 5-yard pass on the drive, which turned out to be the turning point in a game that UNT rallied to win 34-27.
Kidsy credited his ability to contribute early in his career to the approach he has taken since arriving at UNT: If you don’t know, ask.
UNT quarterback Derek Thompson described Kisdy as a quiet person by nature. When it comes to football, though, he is always talking to someone, trying to glean a little more information on how to improve or build the trust coaches and teammates have in him.
Kidsy’s goal heading into his freshman season was to contribute. His high school coaches and everyone else he talked to told him that to reach that goal he needed to pick up as much as he could as quickly as possible.
“When we came in during July, the freshmen didn’t have a lot of time to learn the playbook,” Kidsy said. “If you ask questions, you find out how the offense is really run and get a sense of where you are going to be, who gets the ball in certain situations and which guy to block.”
Kidsy credited Thompson and senior Darnell Smith with helping him along the way.
“When he steps on the field, he is always pushing to get better and is always coming to talk to me and ask questions about what he can do to get better,” Thompson said. “You usually don’t hear that from freshmen. He is making a lot of great plays for us right now.”
One of UNT’s goals heading into the season was to improve the production from its wide receivers, who struggled at times in 2012, especially after Brelan Chancellor was lost for the season when he broke his collarbone in a loss to Middle Tennessee in the eighth week.
UNT targeted Kidsy in recruiting as a player who could help it reach that goal.
“When I came on my visit, [UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales] told me that they were going to start spreading the ball out,” Kidsy said. “Last year they didn’t have enough players to really go down the field. Now we have the skill-position guys.”
That change has been evident in the first three weeks of the season. UNT rolled offensively in a season-opening 40-6 win over Idaho and bounced back from a tough 27-21 loss at Ohio to score 18 second-half points in its win over Ball State.
The way Kidsy has contributed to the wins represents a dramatic rise from where he started in fall practice under the direction of Mike Grant, who is in his first season as UNT’s wide receivers coach after spending two seasons guiding the team’s running backs.
“I came in second to last on the depth chart,” Kidsy said. “Coach Grant called me out during fall camp to run a play and I ran it really smoothly. After that I started to see more time. They saw I had confidence in myself.”
Kidsy’s quick rise through the ranks could be good news for UNT, which will lose its top two receivers in Chancellor and Smith to graduation after the season.
McCarney said that Kidsy has just the right combination of speed, size, hands and a feel for the game that could help him take on a bigger role next season.
“Once the bullets started flying in scrimmages in the fall, it didn’t look like he slowed down because he wasn’t sure of what he was doing,” McCarney said. “He played fast.”
Kidsy could go all-out because of his confidence in what he’s doing. The freshman asked plenty of questions to make sure that would be the case.
In retrospect, McCarney and Thompson are glad they took the time to answer.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.