Austin He cited many reasons why he returned for one final season in North Texas, including the biggest one.
The former Argyle standout wanted to see what he could achieve if he opened the season as the Mean Green’s starting quarterback for the first time.
It turned out to be quite a bit.
Aoun set a single-season program record with 33 touchdown passes, threw for 3,547 yards, received an All-Conference USA Honorable Mention, and helped lead UNT to the Frisco Bowl before leaving the stage when he announced the NFL Draft.
In doing so, Aoun left a giant hole in UNT’s roster.
How Angry Green fills that void ahead of Eric Morris’ rookie season, with Coach UNT ranked second on our annual list of questions the program faces.
Replacing a reliable starting quarterback is never easy for a college program.
Historically, this has been a Herculean task for the UNT.
The Angry Green struggled hard after Derek Thompson graduated from UNT’s victory over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the end of the 2013 season.
UNT passed Andrew McNulty, Josh Greer, Dion Williams and DeMarcus Smith before finally bumping into program legend Mason Fine.
Mean Green immediately returned to the same spot after Fine graduated from high school after the 2019 season. He and Jason Bean split time in 2020. Jace Ruder started the 2021 season as UNT’s starter before Aoun returned to work and found success last season.
It is hoped that UNT will have a smoother transition this time around.
Whether those hopes materialize or not will depend on how what promises to be an interesting offseason battle unfolds.
UNT had many transfer quarterbacks last season and remained eligible.
Stone Earl (Abilene Christian) has found himself a quarterback role. Grant Gunnell (Memphis) was listed as Aune’s understudy, while Ruder (North Carolina) and JD Head (Louisiana Tech) were also still on the list.
None of these players have seen significant action. Gunnell threw for 75 yards in two games and Earl for 45 yards in four.
One of the first recruits Morris landed was former Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Chandler Rogers. For now, the Mansfield Lake Ridge product is the favorite to replace Aune.
The 6-foot, 194-pound junior threw for 2,403 yards and 15 touchdowns for ULM last season when he also rushed for 353 yards and five touchdowns.
Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the transfer market. He visited California and also received a scholarship offer from Indiana.
It goes without saying that Rogers, Morris’ rookie, will be given every opportunity to win a spot in the starting lineup ahead of UNT’s first season at the American Athletic Conference.
Can he hold off the rest of the UNT quarterbacks?
And that’s just the first question when it comes to the Mean Green quarterback situation. UNT has yet to determine who will be its understudy and how many scholarship quarterbacks it will have on its roster in 2023.
How the race for a place in the starting lineup goes is one of the main questions of the UNT in the offseason.
Here is our list so far:
1. Can UNT participate in the American Athletic Conference?
BRETT VITO can be contacted at 940-566-6870 and on Twitter at @brettvito.