In their years as teammates, Brandin Byrd and Brelan Chancellor have made numerous trips to various high school and college stadiums to represent both Copperas Cove and the University of North Texas.
But, there is one thing that the duo has yet to do, go bowling.
At least in terms of the college football postseason. They aim to change that this year as the senior running back and wide receiver look to lead the Mean Green (3-3, 1-1 Conference USA) to its first bowl berth in nearly a decade.
“The main goal for my senior year is to try and get us to a bowl game because we haven’t been to one since we’ve been here,” Byrd said. “That’s the key goal and to do whatever I need to do to help my team win ball games.”
“I feel like I owe this university a lot,” Chancellor said. “They gave me a chance to play football and get a great education.”
North Texas hasn’t made a bowl appearance since the 2004 New Orleans Bowl. The Mean Green’s last bowl win came in 2002 when it beat Cincinnati 24-19 in that same bowl game.
The Mean Green would be bowl eligible with three wins in their last six games.
UNT is currently in third place in the Conference USA West Division behind co-leaders Tulane and Rice. The Mean Green visit Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
A long gridiron journey is nearing an end for Byrd and Chancellor. Chancellor said the two have been teammates since third grade and their connection carried over to Copperas Cove and UNT.
Although they both committed to UNT in the same year, their careers in Denton have differed.
Chancellor is looking for a bounce back season in 2013 after a broken collarbone cost him the last four games of his junior year. He sustained the injury on the first play of the game against Middle Tennessee State.
“It was really tough because there was nothing I could do,” Chancellor said. “All I could do was talk to the younger guys playing in my position and try to help them get better and know what to do in a game situation.”
Despite the injury, Chancellor finished as the Mean Green’s third leading receiver with 450 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries.
Through six games this season, Chancellor has 397 yards on 27 receptions and caught a pair of touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound wide receiver has more than 1,300 receiving yards for his career.
“I feel like we could have a year to remember, but our main focus is LA Tech right now,” he said.
Chancellor immediately established himself as a special teams play maker. During his freshman season in 2010, he set the single season kickoff return record with 923 kick return yards in nine games then broke that mark a year later with 1,094 yards.
For Byrd it came down to making the most of an opportunity.
The 5-foot-10, 223-pound back led UNT in rushing in 2012 with 875 yards and four touchdowns on 205 carries.
“Waiting time is wasted time,” Byrd said. “I was able to get my opportunity to go in and start, I worked my butt off and it’s paying off now.”
Through his first two seasons at UNT, Byrd had less than 300 yards and 60 carries as a freshman and sophomore combined.
Through the first six games of 2013, Byrd has carried the ball 72 times for 325 and three scores and is the statistical leader of a three-man running back rotation.
“I feel like the defenses that we go against respect not just me, but the rest of the running backs and our O-Line,” Byrd said. “We like to be able to run the football and they prepare to stop us.”
It appears their journey will end this season as Byrd and Chancellor play their final collegiate game for UNT. But maybe not. Both have talked about pursuing coaching careers.
“That would be real fun to be able to coach with him since we’ve been playing with each other since we were really young,” Byrd said with a chuckle.