Early Enrollees Get Head Start Before Signing Day

With college football’s National Signing Day quick approaching, eight members of the UNC football team have already shown their commitment to the university.

The newcomers were so eager to begin their Carolina careers that they started college early, enrolling in January.

Seven of the eight finished high school in December, while one transferred from junior college.

Linebacker JB Copeland is the lone junior college transfer, and offensive lineman Layton Barber turned down scholarship offers to walk on at UNC.

UNC has 18 other commitments from across the county and look to add to that total come Wednesday, when recruits officially put pen to paper.

Check in with Chapelboro.com and WCHL throughout the day for National Signing Day coverage.

UNC Early Enrollees:

Layton Barber – OL

Jordon Brown – RB

JB Copeland – LB

Logan Byrd – QB

Myles Dorn – DB

Jonathan Smith – LB

Garrett Walston – TE

Myles Wolfork – DB




UNC Adds Four-Star Wide Receiver

Four-Star wide receiver J.T. Cauthen announced his commitment to UNC over twitter on Tuesday.

“First off I would like to thank all of the schools and coaches that have recruited me over the past few years, I am grateful for the opportunities they have offered me it is truly an honor. With that said and after talking with my family and coaches. I have made a decision on where I will spend the next four years of my life getting an education and playing football. It is truly and honor also a blessing to say that I will be attending the University of North Carolina #goheels”

Cauthen is the third recruit UNC has secured in the class of 2017, OL Jonah Melton and WR Tyler Smith are also heading to Carolina.

Th 2016 recruiting class has 24 commitments with two four-star recruits.

UNC coaches expressed their excitement on twitter.

Cauthen is a native of Waxhaw, NC and a student at Cuthberson High School.


UNC vs. Clemson: ACC Championship

Clemson won the ACC Championship Saturday night with a 45-37 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.  UNC fell to 11-2 and their next game will be the Russell Athletic Bowl.  See photos from the ACC Championship game below from Smith Cameron Photography.


Landon Turner Named Top College Offensive Lineman

UNC senior guard Landon Turner has been named the winner of the 2015 Jim Parker Award, which is given annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the nation’s top offensive lineman.

Turner, a four-year starter and a preseason All-American, has been the anchor of the offensive line, which has made UNC one of the top offenses in the country.

They have allowed 12 sacks this season, which the fewest in the ACC and eighth best in the country.

The Tar Heels are averaging six yards per carry and have a total of 2756 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns. They are third in the nation in yards per attempted rush.

Both Marquise Williams and Elijah Hood have double digit rushing touchdowns behind this offensive line.

The award was named for former Ohio State lineman Jim Parker, who was named to the NFL All-Pro team for 10 consecutive years from 1957-1966.

The 61st annual Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards will be on February 6, 2016 at the Lifestyle Community Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio.

For more information visit www.tdccolumbus.com.


UNC Football Reserve Arrested in Raleigh

A reserve football player for North Carolina has been arrested on an assault charge hours after the Tar Heels beat North Carolina State.

Police in Raleigh say cornerback Tyreece Jiles got into a fight with an employee at a nightclub near downtown at about 3 a.m. Sunday. He was charged with simple assault and released from jail on a $1,200 bond. He is due in court Monday.

The university did not immediately comment.

Jiles is a 21-year-old senior from Cape Coral, Florida. He has made one career start and has one tackle in eight games this season. He’s listed as T.J. Jiles on the roster.

The Tar Heels will play Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next week.

UNC announced late Sunday that Jiles has been suspended indefinitely.


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.