New coaches and recruits
As part of National Signing Day in February, Littrell, the former assistant head coach at North Carolina, signed a talented group of incoming freshmen and some key transfers. They include offensive lineman T.J. Henson from Trinity Valley and defensive end Josh Wheeler from Tyler Junior College. UNT also landed former Alabama quarterback Alec Morris and Kansas State defensive tackle Bryce English.
Littrell's Mean Green coaching hires include former Texas Tech and NFL quarterback Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator and Mike Ekeler as defensive coordinator. Harrell comes to the Mean Green from Washington State, while Ekeler coached at Georgia last season.
The 37-year-old Littrell, a native of Muskogee, Okla., is the youngest coach in Conference USA and the fifth youngest in the nation. He played on Oklahoma's 2000 national championship team and coached at Texas Tech, Arizona and Indiana before heading to North Carolina.
The Mean Green will open the season against SMU for the second year in a row. They face the Mustangs Sept. 3 at Apogee Stadium. Go Mean Green!
Akunne with the Cowboys
In December, former Mean Green linebacker Derek Akunne ('15) joined the Dallas Cowboys practice squad in Week 17, going on to sign a futures contract with the club. The contract means the Cowboys have secured his rights for the 2016 season.
As a senior at UNT in 2014, Akunne led Conference USA with 108 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. He was named the team's MVP and finished his career with 308 tackles and 23 tackles for loss, both of which rank eighth most in school history. He played on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad last fall before being released. A few months later, he got the call from the Cowboys.
Spring game and Hall of Fame
A luncheon before the game will celebrate the induction of six new members into the UNT Athletic Hall of Fame: John Baker ('00), Scott Bowles ('92), Andy Brewster ('05) and Jonas Buckles ('04), football; Pat Hicks ('84), men's basketball; and the late Dick Whetzle, golf.