UNT Tyreke Davis

North Texas linebacker Tyreke Davis takes down the UTEP ball carrier last season at Apogee Stadium.

Mason Fine developed a reputation for making his teammates better during his record-setting college career that came to a close at the end of the 2019 season.

The former North Texas quarterback escaped pressure to avoid what looked like sure sacks and dropped in pinpoint passes that helped his receivers capitalize on their talents.

Some of those players Fine helped elevate will be on the opposite end of the equation next season. They will have to help make an inexperienced quarterback better.

UNT has what looks like two primary contenders to take over for Fine — Austin Aune and Jason Bean. Kentucky transfer Amani Gilmore will join the mix, if the NCAA approves a rule change that will allow players to transfer once without sitting out.

We continue our annual countdown of the top players on UNT’s roster today with Nos. 10-6, a group that includes several veterans the Mean Green are counting on to help out whoever its new quarterback turns out to be.

10. Manase Mose, junior, offensive line

Mose has been a fixture in UNT’s lineup at right guard since his redshirt freshman season in 2018, when he was named honorable mention All-Conference USA. The junior has started 25 straight games and will be one of the few experienced offensive linemen who return next season. Jacob Brammer started nine games at right tackle before being lost for the season due to injury. UNT will turn to Mose to anchor its front in the next two seasons.

9. Jason Pirtle, senior, tight end

Pirtle was best known during the early stages of his time at UNT as Fine’s high school teammate and trusty sidekick.

The former walk-on came to UNT as a wide receiver before moving to tight end ahead of last season. The switch helped Pirtle emerge as a key weapon for the Mean Green. He finished with 17 catches for 263 yards and five touchdowns last season on his way to earning honorable mention All-C-USA honors. Pirtle is in line to move into the starting lineup in his senior season and will be better prepared to contribute after bulking up.

8. Deion Hair-Griffin, senior, wide receiver

Hair-Griffin earned second-team All-C-USA honors last season as a kick returner and made one of the biggest plays of the year for the Mean Green. Middle Tennessee quarterback Chase Cunningham scored with 28 seconds left to tie up the teams’ game in the seventh week of the season at 30-30. Hair-Griffin returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to help set up Ethan Mooney’s 22-yard game-winning field goal on the final play. Griffin also had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a win over Abilene Christian. While Hair-Griffin’s performance on special teams were his main contributions, he did also chip in with seven catches for 70 yards on offense.

7. DeAndre Torrey, senior, running back

Torrey did a little of everything for UNT last season and led the Mean Green with 967 total yards. The senior saw his role at running back diminish due to the emergence of Tre Siggers, but he still rushed for 380 yards. He also caught 16 passes for 96 yards and was an effective kick returner while rolling up 491 yards on 22 attempts. He is expected to play a key role again next season.

6. Tyreke Davis, senior, linebacker

UNT is always trying to build a pipeline to Denton ISD schools due to the tremendous amount of talent they produce on an annual basis. Davis is one of the more important success stories to come out of the program’s efforts. The former Ryan standout is undersized at 5-10 and 209 pounds but just makes plays. Davis led UNT with 14.0 tackles for loss to go along with 7 quarterback hurries and 4.5 sacks. He was an honorable mention All-C-USA selection last season.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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