So what will North Texas get from center Shawn McKinney (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley Community College), aside from the obvious?
The obvious being his size: McKinney is 6-foot-4 and 355 pounds.
The Mean Green will get a player whose sole mission is to silence critics. He has heard North Texas can’t be successful. He has heard the program will never be a state powerhouse like the household names of Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and Baylor.
“North Texas is a sleeping giant. They’re going to do great things,” said McKinney, a second-team, all-Southwest Junior College Football Conference selection. “It’s time to wake up that giant.”
McKinney, who committed last Saturday after a campus visit, became the Mean Green’s 11th commitment of the 2013 class. Recruited by offensive line coach Mike Simmonds, McKinney chose North Texas over offers from Central Arkansas, Jackson State, Grambling State, Southeast Missouri State, as well as interest from Texas Tech, Ole Miss and Florida.
McKinney said he built a solid relationship with both Simmonds and strength coach Frank Wintrich. He’s the team’s only center commit and only the second interior lineman of the class, joining guard Dominic Walker (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Austin).
“The coaches at Trinity Valley always told me, ‘Go to a school where you love your O-line coach and you love your strength coach,’ " McKinney said. “Those are going to be the two guys you spend most of your time with. Those two from UNT I loved. When I met them, it felt like I already knew them.”
McKinney also said he believes in coach Dan McCarney’s plan for success. He called McCarney “a high-intensity coach” who can turn things around in Denton, Texas.
McKinney added that, along with making North Texas relevant, he has made it a priority to silence those who felt his size was a red flag. He said many schools only saw the numbers of his size and chose not to focus on his footwork and quickness off the ball.
“My weight scared a lot of schools away,” he said, “but North Texas is giving me a chance to prove everyone wrong. That’s what I love about them. I believe what I have to bring to the table will turn North Texas around.”