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UNT signs 14 to form highly regarded early class

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

The early signing period arrived in a flash for North Texas on Wednesday.

The Mean Green played in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday and didn't have a whole lot of time between then and the opening of the new early signing period in college football to finalize their initial class.

That quick turnaround didn't hamper UNT, which signed 14 players to form what Mean Green coach Seth Littrell and national analysts see as a solid early haul for its 2018 class.

"As we raise the level of expectation around this program, we have to continue to bring in players that can help us accomplish our goals," Littrell said in a statement. "Competing for championships and playing in bowl games is now the standard for Mean Green football, and these young men that we signed today will help us do that for the foreseeable future."

UNT's early signing class included 11 high school players and three junior college transfers. The group is ranked No. 6 out of 14 teams in Conference USA and No. 101 nationally by 247Sports. 

UNT's class was highlighted by a trio of safeties from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Jaxon Gibbs of The Colony, Reggie Williams of Grand Prairie and Kevyon Davis of Ennis are rated as three-star prospects.

Davis is expected to move to outside linebacker at UNT.

UNT also picked up highly regarded wide receiver Austin Ogunmakin of Houston Alief Hastings and a pair of quarterbacks. Kason Martin of Manvel and Jason Bean of Mansfield Lake Ridge signed with UNT in the hope that they can follow in the footsteps of Mason Fine, who was named the C-USA offensive player of the year after throwing for 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.

DeAndre Torrey, a running back out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, could help fill the void left by the departure of Jeffery Wilson. The senior rushed for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games and finished as the fourth-leading rusher in UNT history with 3,205 yards. 

Torrey is rated sixth nationally among junior college running backs by 247Sports and rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games for Gulf Coast this season.

"While not necessarily large in numbers, the early signee group for UNT is really impressive," said Brian Perroni, an analyst for 247Sports. "Guys like Austin Ogunmakin and Kevyon Davis could play for a number of Power Five schools, and quarterback Kason Martin is a proven winner. 

"In the past few years, North Texas has seemingly had to go after sleepers only, but this year the Mean Green fought several other schools and won some battles. It's definitely a well-rounded class so far."

UNT's early signing class is heavy on defensive players, especially those who could make an immediate impact for a unit that struggled at times this season. The Mean Green allowed an average of 35.0 points per game and gave up at least 50 points in three of UNT's five losses.

UNT added linebacker Josh Sa'afi of Mt. San Antonio College and defensive lineman Darrian McMillan of Butler Community College in Kansas. Both are expected to transfer at midterm and will be available for spring practice.  

UNT loses safety Kishawn McClain and defensive end Andy Flusche to graduation in addition to several other contributors on defense. Those losses could open up playing time for McMillan, Sa'afi and UNT's young safeties. 

"I feel like I can come in and compete right away," McMillan said when he committed to UNT.

UNT is hoping those players can help it continue its rise as a program. UNT picked up steam with its appearance in the New Orleans Bowl and believes it took another step in the right direction on early signing day.

North Texas signing class

The following is a list of players who signed with North Texas during the early period that began on Wednesday. 

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. School
Jason Bean QB 6-3 180 Mansfield Lake Ridge
Cole Brown OL 6-4 250 Conroe
Keelan Crosby S 6-1 175 Anna
Kevyon Davis LB 5-11 200 Ennis
Jaxon Gibbs S 5-11 196 The Colony
Jordan Hunt LB 6-2 215 Wylie
Dayton LeBlanc DL 6-1 265 Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglas 
Kason Martin QB 6-3 200 Manvel
Darrian McMillan DL 6-2 251 Butler Community College
Larry Nixon III LB 6-0 210 Richland
Austin Ogunmakin WR 6-3 179 Houston Alief Hastings
Josh Sa'afi LB 6-3 272 Mt. San Antonio College
DeAndre Torrey RB 5-7 189 Mississipp Gulf Coast CC
Reggie Williams S 5-10 180 Grand Prairie