A look around the Sun Belt

North Texas freshman running back Jamario Thomas is the nation's leading rusher, with 166.2 yards a game.

Updated: October 26, 2004, 12:13 PM ET
By Kevin Acee | Special to
A bunch of young players – among them, a freshman and two sophomores on the offensive line – have had to learn on the fly for North Texas this season.

None was more surprised to contribute so mightily nor has been more surprising than true freshman running back Jamario Thomas.

"I was looking forward to redshirting in a way, but in a way I wasn't," Thomas said this week.

It's good he wasn't set on easing into college football. Because when the Mean Green lost Patrick Cobbs, the nation's leading rusher in 2003, in the second game of the season, the hopes of a run-first offense were thrust onto Thomas.