UNT poll blog

North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden (1) upends Louisiana Tech defensive end Eric Kendzior during a loss to the Bulldogs last season. The loss of Darden to the NFL is a key reason UNT was picked to finish sixth in Conference USA's West Division. 

One of the sure signs college football season is right around the corner came down this week.

Conference USA released its annual media poll. Most leagues have one and follow the standard drill. The folks who work for newspapers/websites that cover the conference’s teams are asked to take a stab at how the league will play out.

Spoiler alert — I’m a voter and have been for years.

The poll became of particular interest this week among UNT fans when the Mean Green were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in C-USA’s West Division. Only UTEP was picked to finish below UNT. That’s not particularly promising. The Miners haven’t won a conference game since 2018.

Are the Mean Green that bad? Only time will tell.

What no one should be surprised about is the fact UNT was picked to finish that low. The Mean Green did make it to a bowl game last season but were blown out by Appalachian State. UNT finished 4-6 and have since lost a host of key players.

Wide receiver Jaelon Darden is one of the best players in program history. He declared for the NFL draft and was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth round.

He’s the type of player who is darn near impossible for a program like UNT to replace. UNT lost a whole lot more than Darden as well. Quarterback Jason Bean (Kansas), running back Tre Siggers (SMU) and wide receiver Austin Ogunmakin (Liberty) transferred.

UNT has some good young talent that will help fill the void. The problem is those young players aren’t going to have the experience of the players they replaced.

Betting on proven players is also a safer bet than banking on newcomers who haven’t proven their worth on the major college level.

UNT also isn’t the only team in C-USA that has good, young players in the pipeline. There are good players set to join teams like UTSA, Louisiana Tech and Rice. UTSA has the league’s best recruiting class coming in, while Louisiana Tech just landed West Virginia graduate transfer quarterback Austin Kendall.

My guess is UNT finishes higher than sixth in C-USA’s West Division, but it certainly was a reasonable pick by the media to slot the Mean Green there heading into the season.

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

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