Former UNC Offensive Lineman Ryan Hoffman Dies

Former UNC football player Ryan Hoffman, whose story of a battle with homelessness drew national attention after a profile in the New York Times, has died, his father has confirmed.

Reports from The Daily Ridge say that Hoffman was struck by a vehicle while he was riding his bicycle in Haines City, Florida.

The Haines City Police Department said the report was not yet ready to be made publicly available.

After news of Hoffman’s situation began to gain attention, UNC officials reached out to Hoffman in hopes of helping him receive treatment he needed. The NYT piece reported that Hoffman said he was struggling with cognitive problems that kept him from holding down a job. Those problems, Hoffman felt, stemmed from his years playing college football in the late ‘90s.

via UNC

via UNC

Hoffman was initially hesitant about receiving treatment.

UNC did successfully reach out to Hoffman and fly him back to campus in hopes of giving Hoffman the medical attention that was needed.

Teammates of Hoffman put together efforts to raise money to pay for Hoffman’s travel and treatment.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says in a statement, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ryan Hoffman, a former Carolina football letter winner — and a great friend and teammate to so many Tar Heels. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

Art’s Angle: Back to the Future

The Tar Heels returned to dominating Duke like they had over the last quarter century while showcasing a football program that looks like it could finally be reaching long-awaited new heights.

On a day when only an 80 percent chance of rain kept every seat in sold-out Kenan Stadium from being filled, the raucous near-capacity crowd and a crazy, overflow student section created the wild atmosphere UNC has been seeking for years, but never has been able to sustain.

The home team, clad in light blue and Alexander Julian argyle, demolished what was supposed to be the ninth-best total defense in the country from its very first snap and, despite how competitive Duke has become, made beating the Blue Devils for the 23rd time in the last 26 years look easier than ever.

What was billed to be a close game turned no contest in a hurry.

The day proved UNC fans will come out in droves if they have a football team worth supporting, and they go well beyond the elite group that can demand the limited supply of season basketball tickets to the Smith Center.  No one would like that more than Roy Williams, a UNC alumnus who bleeds Carolina Blue but also wants football to succeed to take the pressure off his program.

Carolina fans love a good game and a good party to follow. They watch the game, they know the game. On the Tar Heels’ first offensive snap, when Marquise Williams got the flea-flicker back from Elijah Hood, they were up screaming, “He’s Open! He’s Open!” as Ryan Switzer raced past the Duke secondary. The 89-yard bomb took 12 seconds, and the Blue Devils never recovered.

Later, the fans easily spotted, and yelled for, a holding penalty that nullified a Duke first down.

The gray skies never opened up once the old rivals kicked off. It kept from putting a damper on anything and everything that was planned.

During timeouts, UNC also put on a good show, introducing its latest Nobel Prize winner, Aziz Sancar, who shared the spotlight with a fellow Dukie chemistry scientist; the six Tar Heel beauties on the women’s World Cup soccer team, who glowed as much as the trophy they held; and Carolina legend Don McCauley, who 45 years ago this month rushed for 279 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 59-34 win over Duke. Saturday’s 66 points surpassed that day and were the most the Tar Heels had ever scored in Kenan Stadium, against Duke and any other ACC foe.

The Blue Devils gained more than 500 yards (compared to Carolina’s 704 in less than three quarters with the regulars in) but were never in the game after the Tar Heels scored with ease on their first three possessions. For UNC alumni and fans, who clamor to beat the Blue Devils in basketball and other sports, it further restored order to a football series they owned until losing two straight on the last possessions of those games in 2012 and ‘13. The Heels pushed the reset button a year ago, and have now outscored Duke 111-51 in the last two matchups.

The outcome was not in doubt at halftime, or earlier, but the Tar Pit kids and much of the crowd stayed around to the sweet end, some obviously hoping the Tar Heel reserves could crack 70 points, which would have added to the Blue Devils’ embarrassment. Both teams quit trying to score midway through the fourth quarter, using up entire play clocks and keeping the ball on the ground. UNC had had enough time to score nine touchdowns by seven different players plus a Nick Weiler field goal.

The Heels’ eighth straight victory keeps them ahead in the championship race that continues this Saturday on Senior Day against Miami. Should they win, and Duke helps out by defeating Pitt, they will earn their first Coastal Division title since the ACC split up 10 years ago. Carolina would play Atlantic Division champion Clemson, which eliminated lone contender FSU later in the day, on December 5 in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

For a program that has not won more than eight games since 1997, and has never won 11 in the regular season, the Tar Heels’ emergence will surely move them up from No. 21 in the polls and put them into the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time. That recognition comes easier with a tradition of winning, which Carolina football does not have on the national level.

But thanks to a record-shattering quarterback and more scoring weapons than the New England Patriots, UNC is about to get those football props. Capturing the Coastal is within reach and running the table will require winning at Virginia Tech and N.C. State the last two weeks of the season. Such road games are always dicey, and Carolina could still fall from the national spotlight.

But, thus far, how Coach Larry Fedora managed to get this team there with the clouds that have hung over his program like they did over Kenan Stadium Saturday conjures up this question: What could Fed do if the skies ever cleared?

That result, by going back to the future, was on preview for all their fans and a national television audience to see and celebrate; fans who are obviously willing to help turn Carolina Football into a very big deal, if given the reason.

UNC Football vs Pittsburgh

Tar Heels in the NFL – Week 6

The Tar Heels currently have 23 former players on NFL rosters. Here’s a quick look at how the former Tar Heels in the NFL did this weekend for their respective teams.

Marvin Austin – DT – Denver Broncos (UNC 07-09)

Austin did not record a tackle this weekend.

Connor Barth – K – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers are on a bye this week but Barth will play his second game of the season next week after being picked up after the beginning of the regular season.

Giovani Bernard – RB – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 10-12)

Bernard continues a strong 2015 campaign with another touchdown. He had 8 rushes for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also had a catch for 23 yards as the Bengals remain undefeated.

Russell Bodine – Center – Cincinnati Bengals (10-13)

Bodine started at center again for the undefeated Bengals.

Tre Boston – Safety – Carolina Panthers (10-13)

Boston recorded a tackle in the Panthers come from behind victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Zach Brown – LB – Tennessee Titans (UNC 08-11)

Brown was tied with teammate and fellow UNC alum Da’Norris Sercey with eight solo tackles on the day. Brown also had four tackle assists to lead the game with 12 total tackles in the Titans loss to Miami.

Bruce Carter – LB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UNC 07-10)

The Buccaneers had a bye week this week.

Jonathan Cooper – Guard – Arizona Cardinals (UNC 09-11)

Cooper is the starting guard for the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals.

Quinton Coples – LB – New York Jets (UNC 09-11)

Coples had one tackles in the Jets victory over the Redskins.

Shaun Draughn – RB – Cleveland Browns (UNC 07-10)

Draughn suited up despite a back injury, but did not play a significant role in the offense. He did not record a carry on Sunday, but did return two kickoffs for a total of 14 yards.

Eric Ebron – TE – Detroit Lions (UNC 11-13)

Ebron missed his second straight game with a knee injury.  He was limited in practice all last week and is uncertain for next week’s game vs the Vikings.

James Hurst – Tackle – Baltimore Ravens (UNC 10-13)

Hurst hit the field this week in the Ravens loss to San Francisco.

Greg Little – WR – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 07-09)

Little did not record a catch this week.

Kareem Martin – LB – Arizona Cardinals (UNC 10-13)

Martin did not record a tackle this week.

Julius Peppers – DE – Green Bay Packers (UNC 99-01)

Peppers got after the quarterback again, taking down former NC State QB Phillip Rivers for his 5.5 sack of the season. Peppers is having a resurgent season, already just 1.5 sacks off his average from the past two season.

Jabari Price – CB – Minnesota Vikings (UNC 10-13)

Price did not record a tackle this week.

Robert Quinn – DE – St. Louis Rams (UNC 08-10)

The Rams had a bye week this week.

Garrett Reynolds – Tackle – St. Louis Rams (UNC 05-08)

The Rams had a bye week this week.

Da’Norris Sercey – Safety – Tennessee Titans (UNC 07-10)

Sercey was all over the field on Sunday, teaming up with Zach Brown to combine for 16 solo tackles. The two Tar Heels are the anchors of the Titans defense.

Jack Tabb – TE – New Orleans Saints (UNC 11-14)

Tabb did not have a catch in the Saints win over Atlanta.

Brandon Tate – WR – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 05-08)

Tate did not record a catch, but returned a punt and a kickoff.

Cam Thomas – DE – Pittsburgh Steelers (UNC 06-09)

Thomas did not record a tackle this week.

Greg Warren – Long Snapper – Pittsburgh Steelers (UNC 00-04)

Warren is the starting long snapper for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sylvester Williams – DT – Denver Broncos (UNC 2011) 

Williams recorded a tackle assist as the Broncos defense led them to victory over the Browns, remaining undefeated.

UNC Tight End Samuel’s Football Career Over Due to Heart Condition

UNC has announced two injuries to members of the football team.

A release from the university says freshman defensive tackle Aaron Crawford will have season-ending surgery to repair a left foot fracture, on Thursday. He suffered the injury in practice last week. UNC will apply for a medical redshirt on his behalf.

The university also announced that redshirt freshman tight end Caleb Samuel’s football career has ended due to ongoing concerns related to a heart condition. Samuel played in all five games this season and scored on a two-point conversion against North Carolina A&T.

Tar Heel Football Players in the Pros – Week 4

The Tar Heels currently have 23 former players on NFL rosters. Here’s a quick look at how the former Tar Heel football players did this weekend for their respective teams.

Marvin Austin – DT – Denver Broncos (UNC 07-09)

Austin did not record a tackle against the Vikings Sunday.

Giovani Bernard – RB – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 10-12)

Bernard had solid day for the Bengals in a big victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. On 13 carries, Bernard had 62 rushing yards and touchdown. Bernard has come on strong for the Bengals this season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Russell Bodine – Center – Cincinnati Bengals (10-13)

Bodine is the starting center for the Bengals, who had four rushing touchdowns in their victory over Kansas City.

Tre Boston – Safety – Carolina Panthers (10-13)

Boston recorded four tackles in the Panthers win over the Buccaneers.

Zach Brown – LB – Tennessee Titans (UNC 08-11)

The Titans had a bye week this week. They return to action next week against the Bills.

Bruce Carter – LB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UNC 07-10)

Carter recorded one tackle in the Buccaneers loss to the Panthers.

Jonathan Cooper – Guard – Arizona Cardinals (UNC 09-11)

Cooper started at guard for Cardinals. He has started every game this season. Behind him the Cardinals ran for 114 yards against the Rams.

Quinton Coples – LB – New York Jets (UNC 09-11)

Coples did not record a tackle in the Jets victory over the Miami Dolphins in London.

Shaun Draughn – RB – Cleveland Browns (UNC 07-10)

As the third running back on the Browns roster, Draughn had one carry for six yards on Sunday.

Eric Ebron – TE – Detroit Lions (UNC 11-13)

Ebron will be the starting Tight End for the Detroit Lions on Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

James Hurst – Tackle – Baltimore Ravens (UNC 10-13)

Hurst started for the third straight game against the Steelers. Behind his offensive line, RB Justin Forsett ran for 150 yards in the victory.

Greg Little – WR – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 07-09)

Little did not record a catch in the Bengals win over the Chiefs.

Kareem Martin – LB – Arizona Cardinals (UNC 10-13)

Martin did not record a tackle this weekend.

Julius Peppers – DE – Green Bay Packers (UNC 99-01)

Julius Peppers did what Julius Peppers always does, get after the quarterback. Peppers had two tackles and a sack against the 49ers in a Packer victory.

Jabari Price – CB – Minnesota Vikings (UNC 10-13)

Price did not record a tackle against the Denver Broncos.

Robert Quinn – DE – St. Louis Rams (UNC 08-10)

Quinn recorded two tackles in Rams win over the Cardinals.

Garrett Reynolds – Tackle – St. Louis Rams (UNC 05-08)

Reynolds played but did not start against the Arizona Cardinals.

Da’Norris Sercey – Safety – Tennessee Titans (UNC 07-10)

The Titans had a bye week this week. They return to action next week against the Bills.

Jack Tabb – TE – New Orleans Saints (UNC 11-14)

Tabb did not have a catch this week in the overtime win against the Cowboys.

Brandon Tate – WR – Cincinnati Bengals (UNC 05-08)

Tate was the second former Tar Heel to find the end zone for the Bengals. Tate dove for catch right before the goal line. After hauling in the catch, he scampered towards the end zone before anyone could bring him down. The 55 yard touchdown was his only catch of the game.

Cam Thomas – DE – Pittsburgh Steelers (UNC 06-09)

Thomas recorded two tackles in the Steelers loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night.

Greg Warren – Long Snapper – Pittsburgh Steelers (UNC 00-04)

Warren is the starting long snapper for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sylvester Williams – DT – Denver Broncos (UNC 2011)

Williams had two tackles and half a sack in a close 23-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Chansky’s Notebook: Are The Clouds Clearing?

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

Another sign the worm may be turning at Carolina.

Last April, the best two-sport athlete in North Carolina committed to Duke because his favorite school, UNC, was still mired in the NCAA investigation. Last week, Chazz Surratt of East Lincoln High School in Denver, NC, de-committed to Duke and said he was flip-flopping to Carolina.

It may be another indication that the Tar Heel football and basketball programs won’t be hit with serious sanctions by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions when it metes out penalties sometime in early 2016. If so, take that, Brandon Ingram!

Surratt is a super athlete, a chiseled specimen with speed to burn and a great throwing arm. The 6′ 2″ rising senior quarterback led East Lincoln to a 16-0 record, passing for 4,338 yards and 51 touchdowns last season, while also rushing for 1,239 yards and 22 touchdowns on 156 attempts.

Surratt committed to Duke on April 21 over offers from Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, Tennessee, Wake Forest and West Virginia, among others, as well of course from Larry Fedora and the Heels. Too much negative recruiting about UNC caused Surrat to commit to David Cutcliffe and the Devils.

His mother confirmed that her son turned away from Duke last week and committed to Carolina on the same day. And while he will sign a football scholarship next February, he will also be invited to try out for the basketball team and give Roy Williams more depth in the backcourt, where Surratt averaged 20 points for East Lincoln last season. He was named the state’s best two-sport athlete by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

An AP all-state selection for both football and basketball, Surratt ended his sophomore season with 2,590 yards on 178-of-273 passing (that’s 65-percent) with 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1624 yards and 34 scores on 208 carries (a 7.8-yard average). Likely red-shirted in football, he will play behind Mitch Trubisky in 2017 and then take over when Trubisky graduates. It may be another omen that those dark clouds over Carolina are finally clearing.

Football Tickets on Sale Saturday

Single-game tickets for the upcoming Carolina football home games will go on sale at 10 o’clock Saturday morning.

North Carolina A&T, Illinois, Delaware, Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke, and Miami will all make trips to Kenan Stadium this year to take on the Tar Heels.

Tickets are also available for the season opener in Charlotte against South Carolina.

17 starters will return from last year’s UNC football squad and the Tar Heels are looking to make it three consecutive years heading to a bowl game.

10 starters return for Head Coach Larry Fedora’s high-octane offense. Former Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik is set to begin his first year as Carolina’s Defensive Coordinator.

You can buy tickets here.

UNC Reaches Out To Help Ryan Hoffman

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says he and others at the university are looking to find a way to help Ryan Hoffman.

“Your heart goes out to anyone who is homeless and down on their luck,” says Cunningham. “To think that it was a Carolina grad and former football player, it’s just tragic. It’s a sad story.”

The New York Times on Thursday published a profile of Hoffman, a former UNC offensive lineman who is now homeless, living on the streets of Lakeland, Florida.

In the Times piece, Hoffman says he is struggling with cognitive problems that keep him from holding down a job, problems he says stem from his years playing college football in the late 90’s.

Cunningham says there’s an effort underway to bring Hoffman to Chapel Hill to be evaluated by Kevin Guskiewicz, co-director of the Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC.

“Kevin said ‘I’d love to get him here and provide the services we provide former NFL players and do some testing and see if we can help’,” says Cunningham.

But before that can happen, UNC athletics officials need to clear the plan with the NCAA.

“Part of our process would be, let’s notify our compliance office, let’s have our compliance office communicate with the conference and with the NCAA. That’s from a procedural standpoint,” says Cunningham. “From a human standpoint you just want to do what you can to help somebody, but certainly there are rules you need to follow. So we’re going through those processes.”

Cunningham, along with UNC’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Communications Rick Steinbacher, is working out the details. He says they don’t yet have a timeline for action.

In the meantime, a fundraising effort is underway to help Hoffman. You can find out more here:

Incoming UNC Football Signee Charged with Larceny

Incoming UNC freshman Avery Hayden Edwards was arrested June 3rd by Wake County sheriff’s deputies. He is charged with felony larceny after his theft of over $50 thousand worth of jewelry on May 23rd.

The freshman was signed on to play football for the university after previously playing tight end for Ravenscroft High School.

Coach Larry Fedora released this statement regarding Edwards’ charge of felony larceny:

“I believe Avery is a good kid who made a terrible mistake. We are just a few weeks away from welcoming the majority of our incoming freshmen to summer school and this is disappointing news. Avery and his parents immediately made our admissions office aware of the situation and we are working with them on the proper protocol moving forward.”

The bail for Edwards was set $20 thousand. According to court records, he remained in Wake County jail Thursday afternoon following his arrest.