Photography by: 
Michael Clements
W

ith a record-setting 29,519 fans watching, the Mean Green started off the 2018 football season by trampling SMU 46-23. It was the beginning of a 4-0 start to the season, after victories over Incarnate Word (58-16), Arkansas (44-17, featuring a must-see-it-to-believe-it punt return that went viral) and Liberty (47-7). The attendance record was broken again Sept. 29 with 30,105 fans at the game against Louisiana Tech (a 29-27 loss for the Mean Green).

"The defense set the tone," head coach Seth Littrell said of the opener against SMU. "They came out blazing and really dominated. We knew this was a big game. I can't say enough about the great crowd we had."

Several Mean Green players also were named to preseason watch lists. Kelvin Smith was named to the Mackey Watch List and Hornung Award Watch List, while Sosaia Mose was named to the Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List. Quinn Shanbour was named to the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List, and Jalen Guyton and Michael Lawrence were named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

Quarterback Mason Fine was named to the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Davey O'Brien watch lists. His performance against SMU -- completing 40 of 50 passes for a career-high 444 yards and three touchdowns -- earned him Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week, Davey O'Brien "Great 8" and Conference USA Player of the Week honors. And accolades have continued to pour in.

Men's Basketball Wins Big in Italy
Men's basketball wins big in Italy

The Mean Green basketball team concluded its nine-day tour of Italy in August with a clean sweep. Over three games, the team outscored opponents 279-157, shot 47 percent from the field and had 55 steals.

The first game was in Rome against Stella Azzurra, a member of Italy's Basketball Federation Serie B, where the Mean Green won 94-51. In their second game against the Italian all-star team in Florence, they won 83-59, and they capped off their winning streak with a decisive 102-47 win against the Italian Gold Team in Venice.

"To see them fighting for each other and helping each other to try and win is such a good start to our season," head coach Grant McCasland says.

The team also engaged in some unforgettable cultural experiences overseas, including a scavenger hunt and tour of the Colosseum in Rome; a visit to the Florence Cathedral and a 10-mile bike tour through the city; and a glimpse of the Venice canals.

"Italian culture is all about sitting down and enjoying your meal," says guard David Draper Jr. "In our culture, we're all about go, go, go."

Athletes Honored for Academics

UNT placed 186 student-athletes on Conference USA's annual academic honor roll this year. Student-athletes named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

There also were 43 Mean Green student- athletes who received the Commissioner's Academic Medal, which requires a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better.

New Head Softball Coach Named

Rodney DeLong has been hired as the head coach for the Mean Green softball program. An 11-year coaching veteran, DeLong comes to UNT after leading Austin Peay to a program-record 39 wins in 2018, snapping a 24-year streak of losing seasons. Prior to Austin Peay, DeLong was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech. He also coached softball at Cameron University and at high schools in Oklahoma.

DeLong has brought on Dillon Bryant and Jamie Allred as assistant coaches. They both served as assistant coaches under DeLong at Austin Peay.

Soccer Continues Home Streak

With a 3-0-1 home record in the early part of the 2018 season, the Mean Green soccer team extended its home unbeaten streak to 14 games. The defending Conference USA champions are chasing a fifth consecutive year of C-USA regular season or tournament championships and their 14th overall conference title in 24 years. Head coach John Hedlund has never had a losing record at UNT. He will coach in his 500th game Oct. 21 vs. FIU at the Mean Green Soccer Complex.

Greene statue unveiled

A 12-foot statue of Hall of Fame football player "Mean" Joe Greene was unveiled next to Apogee Stadium's Gate 2 on Sept. 29, prior to the Mean Green game against Louisiana Tech. The statue unveiling was part of UNT's "Champions Weekend," which included the groundbreaking ceremony for the new indoor practice facility.

Greene was drafted fourth overall in the 1969 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the highest drafted player in Mean Green history. With the Steelers, he won four Super Bowl titles.