Jason Bean

North Texas quarterback Jason Bean carries the ball during the Mean Green's loss to Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl last season at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

North Texas enters the 2019 season with one of the best situations in the country when it comes to starting quarterbacks.

Mason Fine enters his senior season with 9,417 career passing yards, the top total among returning quarterbacks playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. He's a terrific leader and really wants to end his career on a high note by guiding UNT to a conference title, a bowl win and maybe both. Those goals have remained out of reach in coach Seth Littrell's first three seasons with the Mean Green.

One of the lingering questions heading into fall practice that begins later this week is what happens if Fine goes down for any length of time?

The Mean Green got a preview last season in the New Mexico Bowl when Fine left the game with a pulled hamstring. It wasn't pretty.

UNT turned to backup Quinn Shanbour, who actually threw more interceptions (three) than passes he completed (two) on eight attempts for 24 yards.

Kason Martin and Jason Bean also played. Martin had the most success of the trio, throwing for 110 yards and a touchdown on a 7-for-12 performance. Bean threw two passes, one of which was intercepted.

To be fair, all three of those players were thrown into the fire against a top 25 team that smoked the Mean Green 52-13. That's a tough spot. 

With that being said, UNT needs a plan heading into the season if Fine goes down again.

It's not a pleasant possibility to consider, but Fine suffered a season-ending injury as a freshman in addition to missing the majority of the New Mexico Bowl. 

Fine has bulked up considerably since his freshman year, but he's still 5-11 and 190 pounds.

UNT didn't emerge from spring practice with much clarity when it comes to who would fill in for Fine if he is injured. Bean, Martin and Austin Aune were listed as co-backups on UNT's post-spring depth chart. 

The Mean Green will be in a better spot than last year due to the fact Bean and Martin were legitimate college recruits. Shanbour arrived at UNT as a walk-on. 

Aune spent years playing in the New York Yankees minor league system, but was a high-level recruit coming out of Argyle.

UNT also has highly regarded freshman Will Kuehne on the roster, although he appears headed for a redshirt year.

The question heading into fall practice is if any member of that group will jump up and show that he can handle the job if Fine goes down for any length of time. 

Fine could end up playing every snap all season. That's by far the best scenario for UNT.

The decisions UNT makes while preparing for the nightmare scenario that he doesn't make it through the year could have an effect on this season. Those choices will certainly play a role in how the Mean Green prepare for the future.

UNT will head into the post-Fine era after the upcoming season.

Whoever wins the backup job will have a leg up on winning the job heading into the 2020 season. Whoever loses that competition will have a long road to travel to compete in the future.

Highly regarded Stephenville quarterback Kade Renfro has committed to join UNT's 2020 recruiting class. Renfro is the 32nd-ranked pro-style passer in the class. 

UNT will have to work to hang on to Renfro, but the Mean Green's chances appear to be good.

UNT could have Kuehne, Renfro, Martin, Bean and Aune in the mix in the spring of 2020. Whoever wins the backup quarterback job heading into the 2019 season will have a chance to gain experience, whether that experience comes if Fine is injured or if it's late in games that have already been decided.

Picking a backup quarterback will be a big decision for UNT, both for this season and the seasons to come.

Here is our list so far:

1. Several players in the hunt to start at cornerback

2. Linebacker spots up for grabs

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

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