Tre Siggers art

North Texas running back Tre Siggers carries the ball during the Mean Green’s loss to SMU on Saturday. Siggers exploded for 164 yards in his first game at running back for UNT.

Tre Siggers never felt comfortable with the decision North Texas coach Seth Littrell made about the course of his career in the spring of 2018.

Siggers told Littrell exactly that after he played sparingly as a backup safety last fall.

The former Duncanville standout always thought he was at his best as a running back and wasn’t afraid to tell Littrell.

And then tell him again.

“If you have a player who is that passionate about it, you listen,” Littrell said. “I want guys to be comfortable and be in position where they love to come to work every day, grow and compete. He did his part and gave it everything he had at safety for a year. He was just more passionate about coming over to the offensive side of the ball.”

Tre Siggers

Tre Siggers

Littrell relented after a visit in his office and shifted Siggers back to running back in time for spring practice.

Both couldn’t be happier with the early results heading into UNT’s game at Cal on Saturday.

Siggers made his UNT debut at running back in a 49-27 loss to SMU on Saturday and exploded for 164 yards on 18 carries.

“It was exciting,” Siggers said. “Running back is where I belong. I feel comfortable and am having fun playing the position I want to play. This was what I envisioned. It just took more time than I expected.”

His breakthrough performance came at an opportune time for UNT. SMU held the Mean Green to 20 points until it scored in the closing seconds, and the Mustangs limited quarterback Mason Fine to 152 passing yards.

UNT (1-1) will need all the firepower it can muster if it hopes to get back on track on Saturday against Cal. The Golden Bears (2-0) stunned No. 14 Washington last week 20-19 behind a stout defense that is allowing just 16.0 points per game.

“They are fast, well coached, disciplined and are ball hawks,” Fine said. “The coaches know what they are strong at and stick to it.”

Siggers’ size and physicality provide UNT an intriguing option when it comes to matching up with Cal.

The 5-8, 200-pound sophomore displayed a physical running style by running through several SMU defenders.

That aggressive approach is what drew the attention of UNT’s coaches in the first place. Siggers rushed for 634 yards and finished with 772 receiving yards as a senior at Duncanville in 2016, when he also played in the Panthers’ secondary.

Siggers began his career at DeSoto and was the 2014 defensive sophomore of the year in District 8-6A while playing linebacker.

Texas Tech and Louisville were among the teams that recruited Siggers. Some recruited him as a running back, while others saw him as a defensive back or even a slot receiver.

“He was a great athlete on a good team and loved ball,” Littrell said. “I wanted to coach him.

“We didn’t know where he was going to play.”

Up until a few months ago, UNT’s staff still didn’t.

Siggers was buried on a depth chart that included several talented running backs in his freshman season in 2017.

Littrell was intrigued by Siggers’ physical style, which was the reason UNT’s staff thought he’d be an impact player on defense.

“It was a little tough to move to safety, but I wanted to be there for my team and help in any way I can,” Siggers said. “I just really wanted to play. We had a whole lot of running backs and only two safeties.”

The move never worked out.

Siggers finished with two tackles in eight games in 2018 but never complained.

“He was a little frustrated,” said running back Evan Johnson, one of Siggers’ closest friends on UNT’s team. “Defense is harder to pick up in college. He handled it like a man.”

That meant talking to Littrell about what he felt was best for him, and for the team.

Littrell tried to talk him out of changing positions again before relenting. Siggers quickly worked his way back into the mix for playing time at one of the deepest positions on the Mean Green’s roster.

“He had a great spring and has a ton of ability,” UNT running backs coach Patrick Cobbs said. “When you get the ball in your hands, it’s like riding a horse. It all comes back to you.”

Siggers missed UNT’s season-opening win over ACU dude to a lingering knee injury. He ripped off an 8-yard run on the first carry of his career against SMU and later broke free for runs that covered 44 and 45 yards.

“I was a little nervous going out there for the first time,” he said. “After the first drive, that was gone.”

Siggers gained the confidence of his teammates with his performance against SMU and took the first step toward carving out a role at running back while running over and through defenders.

The role was what he always envisioned.

“I’m physical,” Siggers said. “That’s my best attribute. It’s just me.”

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

Recommended for you