Former North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson's chances to extend his playing career received a significant boost this week.
Wilson, one of the more productive players in UNT history, has been invited to the NFL scouting combine. The top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft will gather in Indianapolis Feb. 27 through March 5.
Wilson announced Monday on Twitter that he had been invited and thanked those who supported him throughout his college career:
Wilson rushed for 3,205 yards — a total that ranks fourth in program history — in four seasons with the Mean Green despite battling injuries throughout his career. He ranks third in rushing touchdowns with 32.
Prominent NFL agent Leigh Steinberg is representing Wilson.
The former Elkhart standout rushed for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior before suffering a season-ending foot injury in UNT's win over Army in the Mean Green's 11th game. He missed UNT's final three games, including losses to Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA title game and Troy in the New Orleans Bowl.
A knee injury and a broken finger also cost Wilson time during his UNT career. Wilson played in just 41 games in four seasons. The 11 games he played as a senior matched his career high from his junior campaign.
UNT coach Seth Littrell spoke highly of Wilson and the impact he made throughout his career.
"We are a better team when he is on the field," Littrell said last season. "He is a great running back. The energy and passion he brings to the game every weekend help our team feel confident."
UNT has not had a player selected in the draft since the Oakland Raiders picked linebacker Cody Spencer in the sixth round in 2004.
Receiving an invitation to the combine improves a player's chance of being selected. Just more than 300 players are expected to be invited this season.
UNT has rarely had players invited to the combine. Wilson will be the first since defensive end Adrian Awasom participated in 2005 before going on to play for the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Spencer took part in the combine in 2004 and went on to play for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.
UNT has had several players go on to have productive NFL careers despite not receiving an invitation, including linebacker Zach Orr and running back Patrick Cobbs.
Wilson will have a few weeks to prepare for the combine and recover from the foot injury that cut his season short. He was determined to enter his senior season in top physical shape to better endure the physical challenges of being UNT's primary ball carrier.
He pushed his weight up to 200 pounds on his 6-foot frame, up about seven pounds from his junior season.
"It's very important to be at the top of my game," Wilson said before the season. "It's why I put in the work I did. This is the best offseason I have had at North Texas. I have said that before, but I can tell this is different. I feel it."
The work Wilson put in helped him post several memorable games as a senior, including a 211-yard outing in a win over UAB and a 165-yard game against Louisiana Tech. That work could now help him as he looks forward to the combine, where he'll have a chance to show NFL teams what he has to offer.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.
FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson carries the ball as UTEP defensive back Devin Cockrell closes in at Apogee Stadium last season. (Jeff Woo/DRC)