Jaelon Darden

North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden breaks away from UAB safety Dy’jonn Turner during the Blazers’ win over the Mean Green this season at Apogee Stadium. Darden was named to the All-Conference USA first team on Tuesday.

North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden was named to the All-Conference USA first team on Tuesday, when the Mean Green had four players named to the first or second teams.

Darden finished with 76 catches for 736 yards and 12 touchdowns and was one of the bright spots for UNT in a tough season.

The Mean Green were picked to win C-USA’s West Division in the league’s preseason poll. UNT failed to live up to those expectations, finished 4-8 and did not earn a bowl berth for the first time in head coach Seth Littrrell’s four seasons.

Quarterback Mason Fine, offensive lineman Elex Woodworth and kick returner Deion Hair-Griffin were all named to the second team.

Fine threw for 12,505 yards and 93 touchdowns in his career, including 3,088 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. The senior is the active leader in major college football in passing yards and ranks second in passing touchdowns heading into bowl season.

Fine was C-USA’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year but was beaten out for spots on the first team by J’Mar Smith of Louisiana Tech and Chris Robison of Florida Atlantic.

Woodworth is also a senior and has started for the Mean Green since his freshman season. He allowed just two sacks on the year and played a key role in UNT averaging 30.6 points per game.

Both Fine and Woodworth were key members of a senior class Littrell credited with playing a key role in UNT’s growth over the last four seasons.

“The seniors helped us create a culture and foundation for our program,” Littrell said before UNT’s season finale. “They have given it their all and put a lot of sacrifice and energy into our program. They have accomplished a lot.”

Hair-Griffin leads the country with an average of 40.8 yards per kickoff return. He returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in a season-opening win over Abilene Christian.

Hair-Griffin also returned a kickoff 50 yards to help set up Ethan Mooney’s 22-yard game-winning field goal on the final play of UNT’s 33-30 win over Middle Tennessee.

UNT had three players named to C-USA’s All-Freshman team — wide receiver Jyaire Shorter, defensive lineman Dayton LeBlanc and linebacker Kevin Wood.

Shorter ranked second in C-USA with nine receiving touchdowns. LeBlanc finished with 30 tackles and a sack, while Wood posted 17 tackles and recovered two fumbles.

UNT had a total of 10 players named to honorable mention All-C-USA — Shorter, Mooney, linebackers KD Davis and Tyreke Davis, running back Tre Siggers, tight end Jason Pirtle, defensive lineman Dion Novil, defensive end LaDarius Hamilton, punter Alvin Kenworthy and long snapper Nate Durham.

All-Conference USA football

The following is the All-Conference USA football team as selected by the league’s head coaches:

{strong style=”text-align: center;”}First team


QB — Chris Robison, R-So., Florida Atlantic; J’Mar Smith, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech

RB — Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte; Brenden Knox, R-So., Marshall

OL — Cameron Clark, R-Sr., Charlotte; Junior Diaz, Gr., Florida Atlantic; Brandon Walton, Sr., Florida Atlantic; Levi Brown, R-Sr., Marshall; Miles Pate, R-Sr., WKU

TE — Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic

WR — Jaelon Darden, Jr., North Texas; Quez Watkins, R-Jr., Southern Miss; Lucky Jackson, R-Sr., WKU


DT — Channing Hames, R-Sr., Marshall; Garrett Marino, R-Sr., UAB

DE — Alex Highsmith, R-Sr., Charlotte; DeAngelo Malone, Jr., WKU

LB — Tavante Beckett, R-Jr., Marshall; Blaze Alldredge, Jr., Rice; Kristopher Moll, Jr., UAB

DB — Meiko Dotson, R-Jr., Florida Atlantic; Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech; Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall; DQ Thomas, Sr., Southern Miss


K — Justin Rohrwasser, R-Sr., Marshall

P — John Haggerty, Jr., WKU

KR — Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss

PR — Talik Keaton, Fr., Marshall

LS — Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall



QB — Mason Fine, Sr., North Texas

RB — Justin Henderson, R-Jr., Louisiana Tech; Gaej Walker, R-Jr., WKU

OL — Ethan Reed, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech; Cain Madden, R-Jr., Marshall; Elex Woodworth, R-Sr., North Texas; Drake Dorbeck, R-Sr., Southern Miss; Derron Gatewood, R-Sr., UTEP

TE — Armani Levias, R-Sr., Marshall

WR — Tim Jones, Jr., Southern Miss; Austin Watkins, Jr., R-Jr., UAB; Jahcour Pearson, R-Jr., WKU


DT — Courtney Wallace, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech; Demarrio Smith, Sr., Southern Miss; Denzel Chukwukelu, Sr., UTEP

DE — Keion White, So., Old Dominion; Jordan Smith, R-So., UAB

LB — Sage Lewis, R-Sr., FIU; Akileis Leroy, Jr., Florida Atlantic; Omari Cobb, Sr., Marshall; Lawrence Garner, Jr., Old Dominion

DB — Stantley Thomas-Oliver, R-Sr., FIU; L’Jarius Sneed, Sr., Louisiana Tech; Reed Blankenship, Jr., Middle Tennessee; Kaleb Ford-Dement, So., Old Dominion


K — Bailey Hale, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech

P — Chris Barnes, Gr., Rice

KR — Deion Hair-Griffin, R-Jr., North Texas

PR — Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss

LS — Reeves Blankenship, R-So., Louisiana Tech; Jared Nash, Gr., WKU


RB Tre Siggers, R-So; TE Jason Pirtle, R-Jr.; WR Jyaire Shorter, Fr.; DT Dion Novil, Jr; DE LaDarius Hamilton, Sr.; LB KD Davis, So.; LB Tyreke Davis, Jr.; K Ethan Mooney, So.; P Alvin Kenworthy, R-Sr.; LS Nate Durham, Jr.

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

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