North Texas quarterback Mason Fine was named Conference USA’s preseason offensive player of the year on Monday, adding to his considerable list of accomplishments in his college career.
Fine has been named the C-USA offensive player of the year in each of the past two years. He enters his senior season as the nation’s leading passer among active players with 9,417 yards.
The Oklahoma native was also named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award that goes to the player of the year in college football on Monday.
“We’re blessed to have him,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said this spring. “He’s going to work extremely hard. He’s excited about having a huge year for us.”
Fine was one of five UNT players who were named to the preseason All-C-USA team that was released in advance of the league’s annual media days Wednesday and Thursday in Frisco.
Wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr., offensive lineman Sosaia Mose, defensive end LaDarius Hamilton and punter Alvin Kenworthy were also named to the team that is selected by the league’s coaches.
Fine threw for 3,793 yards and 27 touchdowns with just five interceptions last season. He’s aiming for an even better year this fall, when he will work with Bodie Reeder for the first time.
Reeder took over as UNT’s offensive coordinator in the offseason following the departure of Graham Harrell, who joined the staff at Southern Cal.
“There are always things I can improve on,” Fine said this spring. “I can be more vocal and make sure we are on the same page. Reading defenses is something I can improve on.”
Bussey caught 68 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, when he was a first-team All-C-USA selection.
Mose helped anchor UNT’s offensive line that played a key role in the Mean Green averaging 34.6 points per game in 2018.
UNT improved dramatically defensively last season, when the Mean Green allowed 24.2 points per game, down from 35.0 points per game in 2017. Hamilton helped spark UNT’s growth while finishing with 33 tackles, including 11 for loss, and 7.5 sacks.
Kenworthy averaged 42.2 yards per punt last season and had 26 of his attempts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Fine and the rest of UNT’s preseason All-C-USA picks helped the Mean Green post their second straight nine-win season on their way to the New Mexico Bowl in 2018.
UNT fell to Utah State 52-13 after losing Fine to pulled hamstring early in the first half.
The Mean Green return 13 starters and are expected to be one of the top teams in C-USA this fall.
Florida International linebacker Sage Lewis was named C-USA’s preseason defensive player of the year. Lewis led C-USA with 132 tackles.
UNT and Southern Miss both had five players selected to the preseason all-conference team to lead the league. Marshall had four players named to the team.
The Mean Green will open the season with a home game against Abilene Christian on Aug. 31.
Offensive Player of the Year
Mason Fine, Sr., QB, North Texas
Defensive Player of the Year
Sage Lewis, Sr., LB, Florida International
Special Teams Player of the Year
Jonathan Cruz, So., K, Charlotte
QB — Mason Fine, Sr., North Texas
RB — Spencer Brown, Jr., UAB; Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
OL — Levi Brown, Sr., Marshall; Josh Dunlop, Sr., UTSA; Derron Gatewood, Sr., UTEP; Sosaia Mose, Sr., North Texas; Miles Pate, Sr., WKU
TE — Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR — Rico Bussey, Jr., Sr., North Texas; Adrian Hardy, Jr., Louisiana Tech; Quez Watkins, Jr., Southern Miss
DL — Channing Hames, Sr., Marshall; LaDarius Hamilton, Sr., North Texas; Alex Highsmith, Sr., Charlotte; Garrett Marino, Sr., UAB; DeMarrio Smith, Sr., Southern Miss; Jacques Turner, Jr., Southern Miss
LB — Khalil Brooks, Sr., Middle Tennessee; Sage Lewis, Sr., Florida International; Racheem Boothe, Jr., Southern Miss
DB — Reed Blankenship, Jr., Middle Tennessee; Ky’el Hemby, Jr., Southern Miss; Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech; Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
K — Jonathan Cruz, So., Charlotte
P — Alvin Kenworthy, Sr., North Texas
KR — Brett Winnegan, Sr., UTSA
PR — Maurice Alexander, Sr., Florida International
LS — Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall