August 29, 2013
Connection trio shares sparks UNT line By Brett Vito Staff Writer
Cyril Lemon chuckled this fall at the thought of the appropriate nature of the weekly routine he and a few of his North Texas teammates follow. Lemon, Antonio Johnson and Mason Y’Barbo all gather on Thursday nights during the season and settle on a place to eat out. The bill can get hefty at times for the core of the Mean Green’s offensive line. The three juniors combine to tip the scales at well over 900 pounds and tip the scales of competition in UNT’s favor more often than not on Saturdays because of their talent and the connection between them those meals help foster. “Any time you have players who hang out off the field, it helps you on the field,” Lemon said. “We have become friends, not just teammates. We have each other’s backs off the field and on the field.” That connection was evident last season, when UNT allowed just six sacks the entire season. That total was the lowest in the nation, which was an impressive feat considering UNT played LSU and Kansas State on the road in addition to facing four other teams that played in bowl games. There is a poster in the meeting room UNT’s offensive line uses at the Mean Green Athletic Center commemorating the achievement. UNT head coach Dan McCarney often refers to the power of the unit when talking about the group that seems a little overlooked when it comes to individual accolades. Aaron Fortenberry, UNT’s senior center who completed his career last season, was the only first- or secondteam All-Sun Belt Conference selection among the Mean Green’s offensive linemen last season. None of UNT’s trio of junior offensive linemen was named to the preseason All-Conference USA team this fall, either. Taken individually, UNT’s trio of veteran linemen might not stand out. Put them together and they are tough to beat. Just like Lemon, Y’Barbo credited the connection they share after having played together for years. Lemon and Y’Barbo start at guard, while Johnson is a tackle. “Antonio and I had a friendship
UNT A cornerstone trio Guards Mason Y’Barbo and Cyril Lemon and tackle Antonio Johnson form a core of three juniors that will power the North Texas offensive line this season. The following is a look at the group: Antonio Johnson, tackle The 6-6, 311-pound tackle has started 23 straight games in the first two seasons of his college career. The former Diboll standout played basketball in high school and has shown quickness and solid footwork for a player his size. Mason Y’Barbo, guard A player known as “Badger” at UNT because of his tenacity, Y’Barbo has started 24 straight games for the Mean Green. Y’Barbo, who is listed at 6-2, 309, was named honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference last season. Cyril Lemon, guard Lemon has started all 24 games of his college career and earned honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference honors in each of his first two seasons. Lemon is a monstrous player at 6-3, 321, and is terrific in pass protection.
immediately,” Y’Barbo said. “When Cyril started playing as a true freshman, he was right in there with us. That has helped us. The closer you are, the more trust you have with each other. Antonio and I don’t have to say anything. We know what each other are going to do. It’s second nature.” UNT quarterback Derek Thompson said one can often find the members of the Mean Green’s offensive line in the film room or on the field fine-tuning their game plan for the next week at 6 a.m. on weekdays. The group just goes about its business without much fanfare or recognition while keeping an even keel. See O-LINE on 24
Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton
North Texas offensive lineman Mason Y’Barbo hoists up wide receiver Brelan Chancellor (3) after Chancellor a touchdown last season at Apogee Stadium.
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Football 2013 is the Denton Record-Chronicle's look at the upcoming football season for the University of North Texas Mean Green and Denton...