Looks like Carolina football will be rebuilding, not reloading.
From a broad view, the Tar Heels winning 19 football games over the last two seasons still fell short of the expected payoff with a veteran team on both sides of the ball. Yes, they went to the ACC title game in 2015 and were picked to repeat in the Coastal Division this past season. But no ACC championship came out of it, so now what?
Coaches and insiders may know more about who is coming in and who is coming up, but the cupboard looks pretty bare to me. The offense, losing seniors and guys entering the NFL draft early, appears decimated. The defense will have 7 of 11 starters back, but it was still no great shakes, finishing dead last in rushing defense and middle of the league in total defense with one interception the entire season.
Is this the last fall-out from the three-year probation Larry Fedora inherited, when Carolina lost 15 scholarships, combined more recently with recruits fearing another post-season ban from the NCAA? If that’s the case, then the four- and five-stars Fedora goes after are still balking from the negative recruiting of other schools. Thanks, all you pro-Wainsteiners for leaving nothing in the chamber.
This could be an unprecedented plummet – from favorites in the Coastal to dropping toward the bottom of the division in 2017. Among bowl teams Miami, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Virginia Tech, which will be picked to finish lower than UNC next fall? None, me thinks. And with Duke and Virginia already rebuilding, will the Tar Heels fall below the Blue Devils and Cavaliers in preseason polls?
It was already looking tenuous before Elijah Hood changed his mind and Mitch Trubisky did what was expected, both declaring for the NFL draft. Hood never should have said he was returning when he obviously was trying to get a clean bill of health in his personal concussion protocol to let the NFL know. And why would Mitch come back, with his receivers, running backs and o-linemen all leaving?
Hang on, folks, it could be a rough ride in the near future.