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Guyton’s love for College Gameday becomes reality at North Texas

Guyton’s love for College Gameday becomes reality at North Texas

September 18
18:43 2017

Jalen Guyton’s Saturday mornings during football season have started the same way for a while now.

As the clock turns to 8 a.m., he’s on the couch with the remote nearby, but only to increase the volume when needed. The television shows the familiar faces of Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit, all ready to go with a sea of the home team’s fans behind them.

The energy of the fans and the hype behind the set forces a smile onto his face.

Just three years ago, Guyton was a standout receiver at Allen High School waiting and hoping for a chance to play on TV in one of the marquee games where Corso famously throws on the mascot head of his big pick.

As a top 30 wide receiver in the country and a top 40 player in Texas, Guyton committed to the University of Notre Dame in 2014. The move seemingly ensured his dream to play college football on the biggest stage.

But it never came to fruition. Guyton redshirted his freshman season with the Irish and was suspended from the team in December 2015. He left the program after the season, searching for an opportunity to be closer to home. Guyton’s time with one of the largest programs in the country will always stay with him wherever football takes him.

“It was a learning experience,” Guyton said. “I redshirted, but I was around a whole lot of really good guys. A lot of guys that are still playing on Sundays. I was just trying to soak up all their little tendencies and everything.”

Guyton eventually made the decision to transfer to Trinity Valley Community College, located in Athens, Texas – about 83 miles southeast of downtown Dallas. It was a place where Guyton felt more at home while also having a chance to saturate the stat sheet with his performance.

In his lone season with Trinity Valley, Guyton caught 45 passes for 968 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games. The experience, however, went far beyond the numbers for him.

“It was absolutely great,” Guyton said. “It’s one of those places that really opens your eyes. It made me hungry. It made me [think], ‘OK now I have to climb back up.’”

He finally reached the summit of his climb when he committed to the University of North Texas and came to campus as an early enrollee in January.

As soon as he arrived, his new teammates saw his work ethic and pure athletic ability from the get-go.

“We knew he was a super talented guy coming in,” senior wide receiver Turner Smiley said. “What I’ve always seen is that he works really hard on and off the field. It’s great to see all the hard work translating into his game.”

Guyton joined the program as a deep-ball threat and was thought to be a much needed addition to the North Texas offense that lacked any sort of vertical weapon in 2016.

Last year, the team’s average pass attempt went for 6 yards and the average completion for 10.4. Thaddeous Thompson led the team in yards per catch at 12.7 yards, and his longest reception for the season was 43 yards.

North Texas sophomore Jalen Guyton (9) hauls in a pass but lands out of bounds late in a game against Southern Methodist University. Colin Mitchell

In three games, Guyton has lived up to the expectations and hype surrounding his arrival in Denton.

The offense now averages 8.5 yards per pass attempt and 12.7 yards per catch – a dramatic improvement from a year ago. Guyton thrives by way of the deep ball and feasts on lapses in coverage. In his senior season at Allen he averaged 21.6 yards per catch and just about matched that number at Trinity Valley with 21.5 yards per catch.

Guyton’s average with the Mean Green sits just above 23 yards per catch this season.

“He does a lot of good things,” wide receivers coach Joel Filani said. “He can attack the [defense] and stretch them vertically. He can also run good routes, has good hands and now he’s learned to play physical [so] he’s playing confidently.”

After putting up 63 yards and 109 yards in the first two games, Guyton was held to just 13 yards against the University of Iowa in Week 3 – but he still had ample targets, showing his importance to this offense. He caught the team’s final touchdown of the game just before halftime.

Regardless of whether his stats jump off the page or not, Guyton goes about judging his performance on a different scale.

“As far as stats, I’m never really expecting too much on the stat sheet,” Guyton said. “I always expect to go in and play my ass off. If that’s reflected in the stat sheet or not, it’s all the same.”

Guyton’s ability to make plays down the field has paid off for sophomore quarterback Mason Fine, who has seen an increase in his production throwing the ball this season.

Fine always seems to know where Guyton is on the field, and the majority of his deep balls go in the direction of number 9.

“I like my match up with [Guyton],” Fine said. “I think we have great chemistry, so if I see a one-on-one matchup with him I want to try to get him the ball as much as I can because he usually does something with it and you know he’s going to come down with the football.”

From the highest summits of going 16-0 his senior season at Allen and going to Notre Dame, to the less glamorous but equally as important season at Trinity Valley – Guyton has seen both ends of the college football spectrum.

Now he’s returned to the peak of the mountain at the Division I level – but this time, instead of learning the ropes, he’s making his presence felt and putting up the types of numbers many knew he was capable of a few years ago.

On Saturday mornings since he was a kid, Guyton knew what his goals were as soon as he turned to College Gameday on his television. And now, at North Texas, he’s beginning to fulfill them.

“This is something I dreamed of,” Guyton said. “When you’re young you watch College Gameday, well now I watch College Gameday and I’m a part of it. It’s a dream come true.”

Featured Image: North Texas redshirt sophomore wide reciever Jalen Guyton (9) smiles after scoring a touchdown against Southern Methodist University. Guyton finished the game with three receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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