North Texas Daily

North Texas backfield overcoming size

North Texas backfield overcoming size

North Texas backfield overcoming size
September 20
15:00 2018

Junior quarterback Mason Fine and sophomore running-back DeAndre Torrey share the backfield together on game days, but something they also share is their below-average stature.

According to a report by, the average size for an NCAA Division 1 FBS quarterback is 6 feet, 2 inches tall. For a running back, the average size is 5 feet, 10 inches.

Both Fine and Torrey are undersized for their positions at 5 feet, 10 inches and 5 feet, 7 inches, respectively. With size playing a factor in sports, both players heard a lot about it growing up.

“The bias probably comes from past history and thinking maybe a short quarterback can’t make some of the throws or can’t see over the line so he misses a couple of reads,” Fine said.

“I think it comes from the defensive players being bigger so they figure players with s smaller size can’t really take on a block or tackle,” Torrey said.

The backfield duo had problems on the recruiting trail coming out of high school because they were undersized.

Fine, a two-star recruit out of Locust Grove High School in Oklahoma, was only offered by Austin Peay State University and UNT. Other big-time programs like Oklahoma State wanted Fine as well, but only as a preferred walk-on. 

Some recruiters believed Fine’s size was the only reason he didn’t receive any big-time offers,  which something he believes as well.

“Throwing the football wasn’t the issue,” Fine said. “What they told me was that I was just a little too small and undersized — the majority of the recruiters told me that.”

Because of his size, a lot of people have overlooked Fine as a starting quarterback for the Mean Green, but his performance this season continues to surpass those expectations.

Since coming to North Texas three years ago, Fine has already placed No. 6 in school history in passing yards (6,767), No. 4 in touchdown passes (45), No. 2 in completion percentage (62.6) and No. 1 in passer efficiency (137.04) through two seasons and three games as the Mean Green’s starter. He completed 324 of 511 passes in 2017 for 4,052 yards with 31 touchdowns (all UNT single-season records), earning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors. 

Now a junior, Fine currently sits No. 5 nationally with 1,143 passing yards on the season, including two consecutive 400-yard games to start the season, making him a possible Heisman candidate down the line.

Fine said those who once doubted him gave him motivation to succeed.

“It motivated me tremendously,” Fine said. “That’s why I’m the player I am today — because of overcoming that adversity and those people telling me that I can’t be something. It just created a type of mindset in my head where I’m just gonna try and prove you wrong.”

Torrey faced a longer path coming to North Texas. After putting up impressive numbers at Gautier High School in Mississippi, Torrey didn’t receive many offers as well. He instead elected to go to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns on 185 carries in his freshman season.

This brought Torrey offers from schools like UNT, the University of South Alabama, University of Central Arkansas and Troy University. 

Torrey ultimately settled on the Mean Green.

“It was great,” Torrey said. “I knew a lot of schools weren’t going to take a shot with me because of my size, but I’m glad the coaches here did. They told me, ‘If you can make plays — [and] you can make plays — it don’t matter what size.’ I was just grateful to get an offer from them.”

North Texas head coach Seth Littrell cares more about a player’s attitude  than their size.

“Sure we look at measurables as well, but you have to understand that measurables only take you so far,” Littrell said. “I look for more than [that]. We love having big, long guys that run fast and physical, but you’re either a football player or you’re not.”

While growing up and in college, both players have compared themselves to athletes with similar physiques.

Fine tried to study and learn from guys like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and other quarterbacks from all teams, shapes and sizes. He said he would look at their highlights and YouTube videos so he could enhance his game, too. 

Since being in college, there’s one quarterback recently who caught Fine’s eye.

“I really look at the film of a Baker Mayfield back at OU,” Fine said. “I study his game since our offenses are similar in a lot of ways, and I just like the way he plays his game, the way he carries himself and plays with a chip on his shoulder. I learned from a lot of those guys by just watching film and trying to incorporate it into my own little way.”

For Torrey, finding a shorter running back to idolize wasn’t hard.

“I like the way LeSean McCoy played,” Torrey said. “I knew he was much bigger than me, but I also knew that the way he was shifty. I could do that same thing. I knew if I was to make it to that level, I would be playing more of a Darren Sproles type of role because of my size.”

In week one against Southern Methodist University, Torrey started his North Texas career off with a bang by scoring a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown with just over a minute left in the game — the first by a North Texas player since Darvin Kidsy in 2014.

“It was great,” Torrey said. “The game was winding down, [and] I was getting a little worried. I didn’t think our kickoff return unit was going to get a chance to go, but we did, and Coach Biagi had it blocked perfectly and I just ran.”

Torrey continued making his presence felt during the Mean Green’s week two win against Incarnate Word, rushing for three touchdowns, all of them in the first half.

Moving along into the season, Torrey wants to keep making big plays for North Texas and hopes opponents will keep underestimating an undersized backfield of Fine and Torrey.

“When you have a guy like Mason, it opens the box up,” Torrey said. “It opens the pass game, run game — everything. It’s really an advantage for me. For [Mason] being small, they can’t really see him back there so he can work the pocket pretty good.”

Torrey said size is only a small factor when it comes to viewing a player’s will and determination. 

“I believe it doesn’t matter what size you are,” Torrey said. “If you got heart, you can do whatever you believe in.”

Featured Image: North Texas junior quarterback Mason Fine looks to throw a pass in a game against the Razorbacks on Sept. 15 at Arkansas. Sara Carpenter

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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  1. SFT
    SFT September 20, 22:10


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