North Texas Daily

Football’s starting three make Biletnikoff watchlist

Football’s starting three make Biletnikoff watchlist

October 24
18:38 2018

The North Texas football program has continued to break records well over halfway through the 2018 season and they’ve enjoyed much success due to their improvements. One of these accomplishments the Mean Green have managed is having their three starting receivers on the Biletnikoff Award watch list.

The Biletnikoff award is a prestigious honor that is presented annually to the most outstanding receiver in American college football. Most teams in college football focus on their number one receiver for a bulk of passes and yards. The majority of wide receivers currently on the watch list are starting X receivers at big-name programs.

This isn’t the case for North Texas, as wide receivers Rico Bussey Jr, Jalen Guyton and Michael Lawrence are all on the prominent watchlist.

Bussey has been effective in 2018 for the Mean Green offense, bringing in six passes for 104 yards in the loss against Alabama-Birmingham. Bussey currently has a team-high 51 catches for 667 yards and nine touchdowns on the year. His 104-yard performance against the Blazers marked Bussey’s seventh career game with over 100 yards receiving and has fifth in eight games to start the 2018 season. He is currently second in Conference USA in receiving yards (677) and third in receiving yards per game (84.6). He leads C-USA in receiving touchdowns with nine and is tied for third nationally in that category.

It’s a pretty big deal and its even bigger considering I got put on this list after what I did to improve from last season including my injuries,” Bussey said.

The next receiver to be added to this list for the Mean Green was redshirt junior wide receiver Jaylen Guyton. He is North Texas’ second-leading receiver this season with 36 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns. Guyton’s four receiving scores have him tied for ninth in the conference. Guyton’s 13 career receiving scores are one behind Marcus Camper (1985-88) and James Russell (1965-67), who are both tied for No. 9 all-time in program history in the category with 14. Guyton averaged 15.8 yards per catch last season, which ranked No. 6 in C-USA and has opened 2018 at a 14.4 yards per catch. Guyton began his career at Notre Dame before transferring to Trinity Valley Community College and then transferring to North Texas.  Prior to the 2018 season, he was named to the team’s leadership council.

“It’s unique and certainly noteworthy,” Guyton said, “It’s a cool deal having put in all that work in the offseason and for the season to start and people seeing the success you’re having and to be noticed for it.”

The last receiver who has been named to the Biletnikoff watch list thus far is junior wide receiver Michael Lawrence, who is the 3rd starting wide receiver. Like Guyton, Lawrence was also voted to the team’s leadership council in 2018.

Lawrence surpassed 1,000 yards for his career on Oct. 13 against Southern Mississippi. He has 77 career catches for 1,037 yards and five scores in 29 appearances. So far this season he has 14 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown through eight weeks. Lawrence led the team in 2017 with 62 catches for 819 yards and four touchdowns.

Lawrence was originally a walk-on and earned a scholarship prior to the 2018 season.

I always play for the man above and I look to make my family proud as well as my coaches and teammates,” Lawrence said, “I was never recruited, so getting to play at a high level and to be put on this watch list is a real honor.”

North Texas’ is averaging 469.4 yards per game – which ranks No. 22 in FBS – and these three receivers are noteworthy contributors to the offensive success they have enjoyed so far this season.

North Texas wide receivers coach Joel Filani heaped praise on his players after hearing they were all on the Biletnikoff watch list.

“They’ve certainly all put the work in and have done a lot of good things,” coach Filani said, “Obviously whenever individuals achieve something like that it’s considered a team achievement and we’re definitely excited for those guys to get that kind of recognition.”

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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