North Texas Daily

Analyzing the Mean Green football signing class

Analyzing the Mean Green football signing class

February 16
12:38 2016

Brady Keane | Staff Writer


After a short recruiting period under first year head coach Seth Littrell, the Mean Green completed the first phase of the rebuilding process by signing the 2016 recruiting class on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Although the Mean Green had a recruiting class ranked at the bottom of Conference USA before Littrell took over, the energetic coach and new staff were able to haul in enough talent to climb the ladder in the C-USA and national rankings.

Here is a look at the 19 players who North Texas added for next season and how they will fit into the new offensive and defensive schemes Littrell is installing.

Mid-Term Transfers

Bryce English, DT – Desoto, TX (Kansas State)

After graduating from DeSoto High School, English chose Kansas State over offers from Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. The 5’11, 295 lb. defensive tackle spent last season as a redshirt, but decided to transfer to North Texas after his father was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

English was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and will be a key part of the Mean Green defensive front in the coming years. He is definitely a big snag for Littrell and first year defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler. English is applying for a hardship waiver that would allow him to play right away this season, but there has not been a ruling on that at this time.

T.J. Henson, OL – Plano, TX (Trinity Valley CC)

The recruitment of Henson was a wild ride. The 6’5, 305 lb. was originally verbally committed to the University of Nevada, before de-committing and verbally committing to Eastern Carolina University in late November. Finally, Henson committed to the Mean Green and signed a Letter of Intent on Dec. 16.

After graduating from Plano East High School, Henson played offensive line for the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals for the last two seasons. Henson will join returners Chris Miles, Kaydon Kirby, Sam Rice and Jordan Murray on the offensive line next season.

Alec Morris, QB – Allen, TX (Alabama)

Morris graduated from local powerhouse Allen High School in 2012 and was ranked as the No. 26 pro style quarterback in that recruiting class by 247 Sports. Morris threw for 3,242 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior at Allen but has spent the last three years as a backup at Alabama after most recently failing to beat out Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman.

Morris gives head coach Seth Littrell another option at a position the team has struggled at since the departure of Derek Thompson. Morris will compete with DaMarcus Smith, who led the Mean Green in passing last season after starting six games and throwing for 1010 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

Joshua Wheeler, DE – Grand Prairie, TX (Tyler JC)

Wheeler graduated from South Grand Prairie High School before going to Tyler Junior College and joining the Apaches. Wheeler led the team and the conference in sacks with 16 last seasons and finished the year with 49 tackles as well.

The Mean Green return three DE’s that started five or more games last season, including Jarrian Roberts, Malik Dilonga and Andy Flusche. There is already a solid amount of depth at the position, but a playmaker like Wheeler certainly provides depth and gives Ekeler options up front.

High School Signees

Chandler Anthony, OL – Tuttle, OK (Tuttle HS)

Anthony is a massive offensive lineman that comes to the Mean Green at 6’7, 280 lbs. The Tuttle, Oklahoma native had four offers from schools including Illinois State University, the University of Memphis and the University of Wyoming before ultimately signing with North Texas.

Anthony will add both size and depth to an offensive line that returns three out of the five starting positions from last season.

Rico Bussey, Jr., WR – Lawton, OK (Eisenhower HS)

Coming out of Lawton, Oklahoma, Bussey had 10 offers from schools across the country ranging from the University of Lousiana-Lafayette to the United States Naval Academy, but he eventually signed with the Mean Green. Bussey was an integral part of the offense at Lawton Eisenhower over the last few years, accounting for almost 3,000 total yards and more than 20 touchdowns.

Bussey brings size to a receiving core that will be missing its top target from 2015 in Carlos Harris. With Darvin Kidsy’s status up in the air, receiver is certainly a position in need of depth in Littrell’s wide-open offensive system.

Mason Fine, QB – Locust Grove, OK (Locust Grove HS)

At Littrell’s introductory press conference, he mentioned the Mean Green would be going after a quarterback for every recruiting class. Fine is the guy for 2016. His stats in high school speak volumes, as Fine set the Oklahoma all-time state passing record last season and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma in each of the last two seasons. Over the last two years, the Locust Grove star threw for 9,233 yards and 124 touchdowns and ran for 1,164 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The only statistic that held Fine back from bigger programs was his size, as the QB is just 5’10. However, Littrell has been a part of offenses that have found success with smaller quarterbacks in the past, as Cody Hodges (Texas Tech) and Tre Roberson (Indiana) both started at QB and were listed at or below 6′. The Mean Green have both Alec Morris and DaMarcus Smith for next season, but Fine is a playmaker who could develop into a gem for the future of the offense.

Deion Griffin, WR – Fort Worth, TX (Arlington Heights HS)

Deion Griffin, like Johnson, was a dynamic quarterback in high school but is undersized for the position at the collegiate level. Griffin will likely play with the Mean Green as a slot receiver and kick returner and certainly has proven to have the play making ability to make an impact. The former Arlington Heights star was named the MVP of District 7-5A in 2014 after accounting for 38 touchdowns.

The Mean Green will be without breakout returner Tre Johnson next season after the walk-on left the program, so look for Griffin to fill that role of an impact player in the return game.

LaDarius Hamilton, LB – Moscow, TX (Corrigan-Camden HS)

Hamilton was a big pick up for the Mean Green on the defensive side of the ball. The Corrigan-Camden High School star did not announce his decision until signing day after originally committing and de-committing from Texas State University. Hamilton could play either defensive end or linebacker for the Mean Green, although linebacker is arguably the spot the team struggled at more last season.

With the addition of Hamilton, first year defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler lands a three-star playmaker in the middle of the defense.

Jameel Moore, CB – Cedar Hill, TX (Cedar Hill HS)

Ekeler and Litrell were able to sway the local Cedar Hill prospect away from an early commitment to Rice University, and Moore will join a young cornerback group that delighted coaches last season. The Mean Green return both rising sophomores Nate Brooks and Ashton Preston.

Khairi-Ali Muhammad, S – Desoto, TX (Desoto HS)

Muhammad was one of the final commits for Littrell and the Mean Green offense, committing on the Sunday just before signing day after playing for DeSoto High School last season. Muhammad was the fifth leading receiver for the Eagles with 270 yards and two touchdowns in 2015 while also playing in the secondary on the defense.

Muhammad will play on the defensive side of the ball for the Mean Green in a secondary that gained a lot of depth through the off-season.

Joseph Ozougwu, DE – Alief, TX (Taylor HS)

After graduating from Alief Taylor High School, Ozougwu passed on several opportunities at smaller colleges and universities to accept a grayshirt offer from the Mean Green. A grayshirt offer, according to Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN, is a delayed version of a redshirt. Basically, Ozougwu joined the program this spring after signing a Letter of Intent in February 2015, and he still has all of his eligibility remaining.

Ozougwu has been out of football for a year but said last year he would be spending that time focusing on improving his speed and size. The DE graduated Alief Taylor at 6’3 205 lbs. and, like Wheeler, will provide the Mean Green with more depth on the defensive line.

Nic Smith, RB – Arlington, TX (Martin HS)

Smith was a big pick up for the Mean Green, as Littrell was able to sign both him and Tyler Wilson from Arlington Martin HS. Smith is a smaller running back at just 5’10, 175 lbs., but his speed (4.45 – 40 yard dash) and his skill earned him a three-star rating from 247Sports. Smith had interest from schools such as California University, Purdue University , SMU, Utah State University, Texas Christian University and Texas, but Littrell was able to close the deal for the Mean Green.

At the running back position, Jeffrey Wilson will be entering his junior season after a nice year running the ball last season. Smith will find a way to fit into Littrell’s spread attack and could be an impact player down the road.

Tyler Wilson, WR – Arlington, TX (Martin HS)

Wilson was the high school teammate of star running back signee Nic Smith and will be another addition to the depth of the receiving core that the Mean Green will be in need of to execute Littrell’s offense. Wilson finished last season with 770 yards receiving and six touchdowns and was dangerous in the kick return game as well.

Junior College Transfers

Dontavious Baulkman, S – Bainbridge, GA (Arizona Western JC)

After spending two years at Arizona Western Community College, North Texas was the only FBS program to offer Baulkman. The defensive back is a playmaker at both safety and cornerback, racking up 56 tackles, five tackles for loss and an interception last season.

Ejodamen Ejiya, LB – Blaine, MN (North Dakota St. College Of Science)

Ejiya was originally from Minnesota before attending NDSCS for each of the last two seasons. The 6’3, 215lb. linebacker will join the Mean Green in the fall after finishing his two-year degree.

Ekeler and the Mean Green feel Ejiya’s skill-set projects well into the defensive scheme, and he could move around from linebacker to other positions. Ejiya finished last season with 62 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions.

Cody Hayes, OL – Fort Worth, TX (Navarro JC)

Hayes was a big win for the Mean Green on signing day, as the Navarro JC prospect had interest from both Houston and Lousiana Tech University as well. Hayes has good size at 6’5, 300 lbs. and could help fill the gap that will be left at tackle with the departure of Michael Banogu.

William Johnson, LB – Pompano Beach, FL (Arizona Western JC)

Johnson was a last minute pick up for the Mean Green on National Signing Day, after the Arizona Western JC product was originally committed to Nebraska before committing and de-committing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Johnson was a three-star prospect with good size at 6’3, 220 lbs. and heads up a strong class of linebackers for Ekeler to work with in his inaugural season.

Johnson finished last year with 50 tackles and three sacks for Arizona Western.

Darius Turner, CB – Nashville, TN (Arizona Western JC)

Turner rounds out the third of defensive signees from Arizona Western JC and is a well-sized corner that provides even more depth to that position in the secondary. The Mean Green are high on the young corners they have, but any additional talent will be important for Ekeler and the defense looking to bounce back from last season’s abysmal performance.

About Author



Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad