When North Texas coach Dan McCarney and his players reflected on a breakout season that ended with a celebration on the turf at the Cotton Bowl, they couldn’t help but think back to the summer.
There were no touchdowns scored during that time. No plays called. And yet, those few weeks in 2013 is when UNT established the culture and desire that was so vital to its run to a 9-4 season and a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“Everyone bought in during the off-season,” UNT cornerback Kenny Buyer said in the days leading up to the bowl game. “The coaches put a lot of stress on how important the senior class is and how good they are. They knew that if we followed them, they would take us to where we want to be.”
The process began anew Monday when the Mean Green opened its summer conditioning program.
UNT’s veteran players and its incoming freshmen all reported to begin summer school and start working with the school’s strength and conditioning staff, including Frank Wintrich, who oversees UNT’s off-season program. The longtime college strength coach is entering his fourth season at UNT.
College coaching staffs are not permitted to oversee summer workouts. McCarney said recently that he has developed a tremendous level of trust in Wintrich and his staff that also oversaw UNT’s recently completed winter training program that spanned from the end of the season through the end of the school year.
Punter Blake Macek won the Iron Eagle award that is presented to the player who compiles the most points that are awarded for their performance in the winter program.
Wintrich said this season’s competition was the closest and tightest he’s overseen in his time at the school.
UNT is hoping its players’ performance in the first section of off-season workouts will carry over to the summer conditioning program. Those workouts will offer UNT’s players to continue to answer the challenge McCarney issued in the days following the Mean Green’s bowl win.
“There is a real obligation and responsibility with the guys on this team to live up to what we’ve built, the standards that we have set and the success that we just had,” McCarney said.
The process continued Monday, when the Mean Green began the next phase of its preparations for the 2014 season.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870or via Twitter at @brettvito.