Injury-Free Schoettmer Eager For Carolina Football Campaign

The 2014 Carolina football season is just a month away, and with preseason training camp just days away, under-the-radar UNC linebacker Jeff Schoettmer, who is coming off offseason shoulder surgery, promises be an impact performer for the Tar Heels this fall.

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“Once everyone hits the field, it’s tough seeing the guys you work so hard with compete every day for positions, and I just have to watch from the sidelines. It’s tough, but I had to be mature about it and think of the best possibility I could make out of it, which was rehab my shoulder, get my leg stronger, get my right side stronger, get faster and learn the defense better. I had to stay positive,” Schoettmer says.

Now fully healthy and reenergized, the junior defender and look-alike to the Green Bay Packers’ Clay Mathews appears ready to assume a more vocal leadership role on the UNC defense in his junior season.

“Tim [Scott] and Kareem [Martin] did so well. They were smart and could communicate with us well. That’s what we’re working with the younger guys on this fall – communication between the linebackers and the D-line,” Schoettmer says.

A year ago, Schoettmer recorded a stellar 85 tackles, six quarterback hurries, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Schoettmer played all but two of his games in 2013 at the middle linebacker position, the spot he’ll be lining up in this fall. He says the key to playing his position is open and clear communication.

“I want to know exactly what every person does each play. […] If a free safety wants to be able to talk to me about making a call between a tight end and a running back, we need to be able to communicate that. I think we’ve done a good job of that this summer. The middle linebacker is supposed to know what everybody knows,” Shoettmer says.

Schoettmer (prestonhollowpeople.com)

Schoettmer (prestonhollowpeople.com)

Schoettmer, or “Shotty”, as many of his teammates call him, is a fairly laid back individual. In his down time, he can frequently be found teeing it up with buddies out on the golf course. But don’t let that fool you. He’s ferociously competitive on the field.

ACC competition is in Schoettmer’s blood after all. His mother played tennis at WakeForest. His father played linebacker for rival Duke.

Schoettmer says one of the driving forces for his offseason motivation is the sour memory of the defensive debacle against East Carolina last season.

“The ECU game was pathetic, to be honest. We look back on film, and it was one of the worst games in Carolina history. We take that as motivation. The rest of the season, we played pretty good. But that’s not good enough. We got to be a top 20 defense to win the Coastal,” Schoettmer says.

Jeff Schoettmer (UNC Athletics)

Jeff Schoettmer (UNC Athletics)

Unlike the lead-up to previous seasons, Schoettmer says the Tar Heels fully expect to come out on top in the ACC Coastal division. He says the locker room is oozing with confidence right now.

“I never felt the camaraderie amongst the guys, and the fact that we know that we can win the Coastal. It’s ours for the taking. […] We got to go out there and do it. Amongst the guys in the locker room, we’re hungry for that. We can feel it more than any year in the past,” Schoettmer says.

An eager Schoettmer and the rest of the Tar Heels will have the chance to take the first step towards a title when they welcome Liberty to Chapel Hill Aug. 30 for the home opener of the Carolina football season.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/injury-free-schoettmer-eager-carolina-football-campaign/

Brown, Davis To Serve As ABC, ESPN2 Studio Analysts

BRISTOL, CT — Former Texas coach Mack Brown will serve as a studio analyst for college football games on ABC.

Brown stepped down in December after 16 years with the Longhorns, winning the national title after the 2005 season.

Brown will appear on “College Football Countdown” and offer pregame, halftime and postgame commentary for the games on ABC, including “Saturday Night Football.” He will work with host John Saunders and former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell.

ESPN also said Thursday that former Miami and North Carolina coach Butch Davis will serve as an analyst for ESPN2′s studio coverage on Saturdays.

Davis was fired by the Tar Heels in 2011 during an NCAA investigation. He led the Hurricanes back to national prominence while coaching them from 1995-2000. In between, there was a mostly unsuccessful NFL stint with the Cleveland Browns.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/brown-davis-serve-abc-espn2-studio-analysts/

Primed Paige Maturing as UNC Leader, Accompanied By ‘Gym Rats’

UNC junior Marcus Paige has been busy picking up some tips from past Carolina legends over the summer and is expecting a Final Four-caliber team to hit the hardwood in the Smith Center come November. In a recent interview with GoHeels.com’s Adam Lucas, Paige discussed his preparations.

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“We have lofty goals, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t. We have a lot of the same guys coming back and incorporated three guys that I think will help us out a lot. We need wings and guys that can score, and I think those guys can do that. I think we have the pieces. We just need to put them together,” Paige says.

With Paige’s return, the Tar Heels welcome back one of the nation’s premier point guards to Chapel Hill.

A season ago, Paige was named a second-team All-American and voted the ACC’s most improved player thanks to his team-leading 17.5 points per game and a conference-leading .877 free throw percentage. He was also the first Tar Heel point guard to earn first-team All-ACC honors since Phil Ford in 1976.

Paige says he’s learned invaluable lessons from former Carolina stars Raymond Felton and Kendall Marshall. It just so happens, that duo happens to play the same position.

“I pick up little things like how they’ll tell the big guy to adjust the ball screen, how they read the top foot of the defender, and which way they want to attack. You can pick up a lot, especially from them, because they’re both so crafty. They use their skill set more than their athleticism, which is similar to what I do,” Paige says.

Paige eyeing the floor (UNC Athletics)

Paige eyeing the floor (UNC Athletics)

But there’s another more recent Tar Heel who Paige credits with preparing him to be more of a vocal presence in the huddle this season.

“Seeing James Michael [McAdoo] do that a lot during our winning streak last year – he became more vocal and you could tell he really matured and got comfortable being that leader. Seeing him do that has helped me adjust my leadership form more of a ‘lead by example’ to being able to get on guys. I think the fact that my teammates respect me enough to listen to what I’m saying definitely helps that,” Paige says.

Marcus Paige (Copyright 2014 Todd Melet)

Marcus Paige (Copyright 2014 Todd Melet)

As far as head coach Roy Williams’ expectations, Paige says Coach wants him to continue to hit the gym hard and become stronger at driving the ball to the basket.

“He wants me to do a lot of the same things that I worked hard on last summer, in terms of making strides in the weight room, getting stronger and getting ready to handle thirty-plus minutes a game again. Also, he wants me to work on my skill set as far as finishing around the basket and becoming even more of a consistent jump shooter,” Paige says.

Paige isn’t kidding about improving his accuracy. He’s aiming to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor in the upcoming season.

There’s also been a notable change in offseason motivation for the team as a whole. Paige says his workouts haven’t been as lonely lately. He’s noticed an abundance of “gym rats” this year.

“Every time I try to get in the gym, somebody else is in there, whereas a lot of times in the past, I’ve found myself in there by myself or maybe one other person. Now, we’re working out together. This team has more gym rats on it than we’ve had in the past,” Paige says.

A combination of fresh, eager talent and a healthy belief in the championship mettle of the squad have seemingly led to a more focused summer for Paige and the rest of the Tar Heels as they prepare for promising season ahead.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/primed-paige-maturing-unc-leader-accompanied-gym-rats/

Defensive Warrior Otis Embracing Tar Heel ‘Family’

UNC senior bandit Norkeithus Otis senses a different aura around the family-oriented Tar Heel locker room heading into the 2014 campaign.

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The 2014 Bednarik Watch List and all-conference candidate says there’s just something different about the run-in to the fall this year.

“You can just see the focus on everybody, even the younger guys that came in that are puppies right now. The focus is just amazing. Everybody’s ready to get after it,” Otis says.

That laser-like focus described by Otis has been well-documented by quarterback Marquise Williams, wide receiver Ryan Switzer and the head coach himself, Larry Fedora.

Where does the work ethic come from? Otis says it starts from the top. Strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez has been practicing what he preaches.

“He wants us to work hard. He pushes us to work hard. But the thing that gets us the most is he works hard as a strength coach too. You’ll see him out on daily runs. He’s running three miles. You’ll see him come back in. He’s lifting, foam rolling and stretching,” Otis says.

The Tar Heels, picked to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal by the media, will be hoping the rededication of effort and intensity will lead to a run at an ACC title in 2014. The urgency is certainly there. Coach Fedora says Carolina can’t afford to let this prime opportunity slip by.

One of the most charismatic players on the squad is Switzer. Otis says the sophomore sparkplug cares deeply for the football program, and that includes the Tar Heel fans as well.

“Ryan [Switzer] is a great guy. He does all the little things right. He wants everybody to be happy. If he loves you and is committed to you as a person, he does whatever he can in order to make you happy. Our fans are somebody he loves. They support him, and he wants to give them the same thing in return,” Otis says.

Through the hard work and sweat, Otis and his Tar Heel teammates are growing extremely close. Recently, Switzer wrote his fellow Tar Heels a personal letter. Otis says the family bonds are evident across the board, but says Switzer takes it to a whole new level.

“He was explaining why he does what he does – for us. He says he comes in and works hard every day for us. This is his family. We’re his brothers. He loves us. It meant a lot to us,” Otis says.

Otis is ranked second at UNC in sacks and tackles for a loss. The Gastonia native will be aiming to back up his strong performances a season ago in his Chapel Hill swansong in 2014.

At the media days earlier this week, Coach Fedora didn’t have any problems answering who was the defensive leader on his team in maybe the quickest response ever recorded.

“That’s easy – Norkeithus Otis,” Coach Fedora says. The Carolina skipper says when Otis speaks up, everybody listens. And that’s helpful to a defense that lost the veteran leadership of defensive end Kareem Martin to the NFL.

Otis at ACC Kickoff (AP)

Otis at ACC Kickoff (AP)

As for his playing position on the field, Otis says the bandit slot is right up his wheelhouse.

“It’s the best of both worlds. I get to be involved in run stop, I can be a pass rusher, I can be the guy that drops back into coverage, and I can stand back and rush from back. It’s fun. It creates different opportunities for me to make plays,” Otis says.

There is one area of the game, though; even Otis hasn’t always been so comfortable with – his eating habits.

“I didn’t like to eat 24/7. But I’ve learned you’ve got to eat like 6 times a day and eat snacks during the day. It’s fun now,” Otis says.

But if Otis isn’t always so hungry off the field, he’s certainly ravenous on it.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/defensive-warrior-otis-embracing-tar-heel-family/

‘Seizing Opportunity’: Larry Fedora Eyeing Wide Open Coastal Title

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora feels the time is right for his Tar Heels to take the next step and win the ACC Coastal division title in year three of his tenure in Chapel Hill.

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“I think it’s wide open. I think that’s why everybody got votes. Anybody could win it. It’s going to be about who plays well down the stretch and takes care of business,” Coach Fedora says.

The media members at the ACC Kickoff preseason event selected Miami to claim UNC’s side of the league, but second-place Duke and fourth-place Carolina each received more first-place votes than the Hurricanes.

The final vote tally highlighted the general consensus circulating around the Grandover Resort that nearly any of the seven teams in the Coastal division could very well find themselves squaring off against heavy favorite Florida State for the ACC title in Charlotte come December.

But although he’s looking to the future, Coach Fedora fondly recalls a special 2013 season.

“That was one of those seasons that you didn’t want it to be over. Our guys were getting better and better every week. It was fun. It was fun coaching them at that point. It was fun because we were young. It was fun that they were enjoying it. You were just watching them grow leaps and bounds every week,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora will be hoping the Tar Heels can use last season’s surge, in which Carolina reeled off wins in six of its last seven games and comfortably beat Cincinnati to claim the Belk Bowl title, as fuel to get off to a stronger start in 2014.

But if UNC is going to achieve its lofty goals, it will have to do it with only 6 seniors on the roster. By contrast, fellow league member Clemson will have over 20 seniors suiting up.

Coach Fedora says he’s never had so few veterans on a team. As a result, Carolina’s skipper says he expects a potent mixture of fun, excitement and headache in Kenan Stadium this fall.

“It scares the heck out of me. But at the same time, it’s also exciting. You know, because we’re talented. They’re young kids that are talented. Sometimes, you don’t know what they’re going to do and how they’re going to react,” Coach Fedora says.

Larry Fedora addresses the media Monday (Matt Oakes)

Larry Fedora addresses the media Monday (Matt Oakes)

The depth for the Tar Heels is improving across the board. Coach Fedora says that excites him due to the competition factor. Just as returning starter Marquise Williams is having to duke it out with Mitch Trubisky to keep his spot, Coach Fedora says he always wants open competition for starting jobs to be a trademark in his program.

“You don’t get handed a job just because you are the next guy in line. I don’t ever want it to be that way at our place. I want it to be about competition and production. I want our guys to understand that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. If you produce, we’re going to find a way to get you on the field,” Coach Fedora says.

The ratcheted-up competition this year may go hand-in-hand with the urgency Coach Fedora is attaching to this ACC campaign. He says the Tar Heels must take full advantage of a golden opportunity in a Coastal division void of any clear-cut favorites.

“It is an opportunity that we want to take advantage of. If we’re going to continue to grow at the rate we want to grow and get to where we want to be, this is an opportunity we need to seize. We don’t need to let this slip by,” Coach Fedora says.

There’s no doubt about it. Coach Fedora has always maintained he’s out to change the culture at Carolina, doing his best to improve the University’s affinity for football.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that he heartily approves of UNC sophomore Ryan Switzer’s recent letter addressed to Tar Heel Nation that detailed the hard work his teammates are putting in and also encouraged fans to get fired up and fully support the program this fall.

It remains to be seen how packed Kenan Stadium will be for the season opening night game against Liberty Aug. 30, but for Coach Fedora, there’s no ceiling for this year’s squad of Tar Heels.

“How many games could we play possibly – with a semifinal and a final? That’s fifteen. Yeah, so that would be the ceiling,” Coach Fedora says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/seizing-opportunity-larry-fedora-likes-progress-eyeing-coastal-title/

Upping the Ante: Marquise ‘Competition’ Williams Fired Up For 2014

At the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff, held at the Grandover Resort down the road in Greensboro,  UNC quarterback Marquise Williams shared his excitement for the season ahead, explaining how the Tar Heels are hungrier than ever to achieve big things on the football field this fall.

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“We’re excited about the guys we have returning. It’s going to be very special to see what we do this year. A lot of guys have been really focused this summer. Everybody is happy. I haven’t seen one guy complain about a workout like we used to,” Williams says.

Williams has been observing a greater dedication and intensity level by his teammates in the offseason. In essence, the Tar Heels appear to be taking it to another level in preparation for the 2014 campaign.

In particular, the junior lauded return specialist and wideout Ryan Switzer as a model of hard work. Williams says it’s not uncommon for Switzer to work out three times a day.

As for game days, Williams and the Tar Heels will have a new offensive boss roaming the sidelines this year. Williams says Seth Littrell fits right in with the Red Bull slurping Head Coach Larry Fedora. They have two cornerstone traits in common: high energy and a passion for points.

“Like he [Littrell] told me yesterday, it doesn’t matter what the defense does, we’re going to score points. That’s what I love about what he said. He said, ‘Tell those boys to get us back the ball because we’re going to score points.’ If that doesn’t get you excited as a quarterback then why are you playing football? It gets me excited. I’m very pumped. He has a lot of energy and more than that, he has a lot of swag,” Williams says.

Swag aside, for Williams, the quest for improvement is ongoing.

In an effort to sharpen his accuracy, Williams attended the Peyton Manning camp this summer alongside college quarterback greats like Jameis Winston, Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winner.

Williams says it was an incredible experience working with a legend like Manning. He even received a ringing endorsement from the Denver Broncos’ star.

“The guy gave me a lot of confidence. Coming in, a lot of guys were saying I wasn’t much of a thrower. But Peyton called me to the side and said, ‘Son, you’re a heck of a thrower. Your form is good. Your feet are good. When he gave me that talk, I felt like nobody could tell me anything. It’s Peyton Manning. That’s the greatest in the game. […] He gave me a boost,” Williams says.

Williams in action (Elliott Rubin)

Williams in action (Elliott Rubin)

But at the end of the day, a quarterback is only as good as the tools he has to work with. And Williams is certainly losing a valuable one in tight end Eric Ebron, who will now be playing on Sundays in the NFL.

However, Williams says he’s not overly worried. He says he’s comfortable with senior Jack Tabb’s ability to fill the position.

“He’s going to be ready for that task. He’s been performing well. He’s been running great routes. His hands have been getting better and better. I’m looking forward to see what he’s going to do. He knows he has big shoes to fill, but he’s going to step up to the challenge. We’re Tar Heels, that’s what we do. We step up to any challenge,” Williams says.

Ironically for Williams, his spot as the starter of his own team remains in question. His battle for the job with promising upstart Mitch Trubisky has provided plenty of offseason fodder for conversations around the summer water cooler.

But the man who led Carolina to wins in six of its last seven games and delivered a Belk Bowl championship in 2013 says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m not surprised at all. If you don’t have a position battle on the football team, then I don’t know why you have a college football team. If I was to win the starting job this year, I would still think I would need to compete the next season after that. I like to compete. I named myself Marquise ‘Competition’. I’ve been competing all my life,” Williams says.

Marquise ‘Competition’ will certainly have his hands full with Trubisky nipping at his heels when preseason practice resumes shortly, but Williams’ trademark poise and confidence won the day Sunday in Greensboro.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/upping-ante-marquise-competition-williams-fired-2014/

UNC’s Summer Green Named To U.S. U20 World Cup Roster

Story by Dave Lohse

CHICAGO, ILL. – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Michelle French has named her 21-woman roster that will represent the American side at the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, being held in Edmonton, Montreal, Moncton and Toronto, Canada, from Aug. 5-24.

North Carolina rising junior forward Summer Green (Milford, Mich.) has earned one of the roster spots, continuing a long tradition of Tar Heel players who have competed in the U20 World Cup. Two years ago in Japan, Tar Heels Crystal Dunn, Kealia Ohai and Bryane Heaberlin led the United States to the gold medal.

Green’s current Tar Heel teammate, junior midfielder/defender Katie Bowen, will compete for the New Zealand team at the U20 World Cup and was named the captain of the Football Ferns’ side earlier this week.

All three of the USA’s group games will be broadcast live across the ESPN platforms. The U.S. plays its first two Group B matches at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, opening its tournament on Aug. 5 against Germany at 5 p.m. local (7 p.m. ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN) before facing Brazil on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. local (10 p.m. ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN).

The USA will finish group play on Aug. 12 against China PR at Moncton Stadium with a kickoff at 5 p.m. local (4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN). The curtain-raising clash between the USA, which has won this tournament three times, and Germany, which has it won it twice, will pit the countries that played in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final in Tokyo.

“We have a good mixture of leadership, talent and great technical ability on all three lines,” said French. “We have a lot of tactical understanding and creativity based on the way they read the game, and I see a lot of grit and bite in the way we defend. The combination of these factors gives us a very well-rounded team.

French named her squad after the first week of a two-week training camp in Seattle, Washington, which will be the last domestic event for the U.S. team before it leaves for Canada in late July. French put her player pool through a thorough evaluation process over the past year and a half, taking a hard look at almost 80 players in training camps and games.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/uncs-summer-green-named-u-s-u20-world-cup-roster/

Healthier, Fitter Meeks Eager for Round Two in Chapel Hill

Sophomore UNC forward Kennedy Meeks will be a whole lot lighter when he takes to the Smith Center floor in 2014. A now fully fit Meeks says he’s grown into a smarter and more physical basketball player heading into year two in Chapel Hill.

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Meeks has rededicated himself to the game of basketball in the offseason. The talented forward says during his maiden Carolina campaign, he didn’t always understand how hard he needed to work to compete at the elite level.

“I think for my freshman year, learning that is not easy. Everything is earned, not given. It’s a pretty long season. You have to work hard every day in practice – even off the court. I think that’s very important to our team this year. I think we learned a lot of lessons from last year that we can carry over to this year,” Meeks says.

But now, Meeks appears to be putting in the hard yards and embracing the rigors of college basketball. And that starts with his body. Meeks is sculpting a new body image for himself. The sophomore big man has dropped nearly 45 pounds in a year.

Last summer, Meeks weighed in at a whopping 315 pounds, but these days he’s checking in at a trim 270.

The drop in weight has allowed Meeks to begin throwing down windmill dunks. In fact, he recently saved his teammates from running wind sprints at the end of practice when he displayed his newfound move to Head coach Roy Williams.

Meeks lays it in (Todd Melet)

Meeks lays it in (Todd Melet)

Meeks says his greater explosiveness is not only due to his loss in weight, but his stronger mind as well.

“It’s not easy. I think it’s the mental part. It’s really going out onto the court and being a demand on the inside. I think that’s what I’m trying to do right now,” Meeks says.

Meeks credits determination and more intelligent diet choices for his ability to transform his body and get into prime playing shape.

“Eating right, working out, and being determined. Being a sophomore, I just eat better and am smart with my food choices,” Meeks says.

Even with the excess baggage, Meeks was a big-time performer in high-profile contests as a freshman. He saved his best for last in the Round of 32 NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa State. Meeks posted 15 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of play.

However, Meeks only averaged 16 minutes per game for a reason. He struggled to keep pace with Coach Williams’ track-meet offense, often finding himself gasping for air.

But Meeks says his game continues to be taken to the next level this summer with help from former Tar Heels like Sean May.

“Sean May’s just telling me to keep playing hard, defend, make smarter plays on offense, and get farther out from the basket and shoot. I think he’s really been a good influence this summer,” Meeks says.

The off-court issues surrounding the current Tar Heels still rages on. But Meeks says he and his teammates are doing their best to concentrate on what they can control in preparation for next season.

“I don’t think we let it affect us as much as it did when it first started. We have to put that behind us and focus on our season. It’s pretty important to make Coach [Williams] happy and make our fans happy,” Meeks says.

One thing is for sure. A slimmed down Meeks in 2014 promises to bring a smile to the faces of Coach Williams and Tar Heel fans everywhere.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/healthier-fit-meeks-fired-round-two-chapel-hill/

Strong-Legged UNC Punter Tommy Hibbard Proving His Worth

One of the most under-the-radar performers for the Tar Heel football team heading into 2014 may be the starting punter, but he’s not being overlooked for the NCAA’s most prestigious award at his position.

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Having the ability to reverse the field position on an opponent is huge. It can often prove to be the difference between losing and winning a game.

And there’s likely no position more critical to this ‘flipping of the script’ than the punter – just ask LSU fans.

Australian American Brad Wing achieved national stardom during several nationally televised showdowns, most notably against rival Alabama, for his tremendous accuracy and leg strength, pinning opponents back inside their own 10-yard line with regularity. Wing is currently playing in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although not as famous as his Bayou counterpart, Carolina’s Tommy Hibbard has that uncanny ability to change the complexion of a game with a single boot of his leg. The senior showed off his immense talents on more than a few occasions last season.

The Charlotte product averaged 43 yards per punt on 65 attempts in his junior campaign. Most notably, 25 of his kicks were downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Those kicks really pay dividends. They apply pressure on the opponent, make them contend with rowdy crowd noise surrounding the endzones, and open the door for vital, quality field position for the offense with a successful three and out.

The Augusta Sports Council is taking notice of Hibbard. They’ve recently named him to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, which is awarded to the nation’s premier collegiate punter.

After all, Hibbard spearheaded a Tar Heel unit that ranked fourth in the nation in punt return average, with opponents only managing to gain a mere 2.89 yards per return.

Hibbard in action (UNC Athletics)

Hibbard in action (UNC Athletics)

It can be easy to overlook a punter’s prowess. When these guys trot out onto the field, one set of fans is already disgusted at the offense’s inability to sustain a scoring drive. But a well executed, long bomb by the punter that pins the opponents back can demoralize the receiving squad.

So don’t forget about Hibbard. He may just turn out to be the X-factor in a pivotal game for the Tar Heels in 2014.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/strong-legged-unc-punter-tommy-hibbard-proving-worth/

Former Tar Heel Seager Ready For ‘Honor’ Of All-Star Status

There will be some Tar Heel flavor present Tuesday night at Target Field for the annual MLB All-Star Game. Former Carolina standout and current Seattle Mariner third baseman Kyle Seager will take to the field in front of the national spotlight.

***Listen to the story***

“This is obviously a dream come true. Everybody grows up wanting to play in the big leagues and become an All-Star. For that to happen is pretty special. It’s something that I’m very proud of. I’m very honored,” Seager says.

Seager has already smashed 15 home runs and 63 RBIs entering this week for the Mariners and has earned a nice reward for his efforts – his first career All-Star appearance in his fourth season in the majors.

While at Chapel Hill, Seager sported a .353 batting average in his three seasons and was a second-team All-America second baseman as a sophomore in 2008. The N.C. native smacked a school-record 30 doubles that same season and ranks in the top 10 in career batting average, hits, doubles, triples and total bases at UNC.

The 26-year-old led the Tar Heels to three consecutive College World Series appearances, including a spot in the championship series in 2007.

Seager replaced Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion, who was announced as the AL starter at third base before being placed on the disabled list.

But Seager will be joined by a few familiar faces Tuesday night. Three of his teammates – Felix Hernandez, Fernando Rodney and Robinson Cano – will be by his side.

And that’s comforting for Seager, who says he’ll be following Cano’s lead around the clubhouse, as he usually does.

“To go with a couple guys you know will be good. I can basically do there what I do here and just kind of follow Cano around. It will work out well for me,” Seager says.

With his selection, Seager has become the eighth Tar Heel to earn a coveted slot in the All-Star game.

Seager says he’s just humbled to be thought of so highly in his profession.

“It’s an honor just to be in consideration for it. To have people believe that I should be there is special. It’s been really cool,” Seager says.

Fans can catch all the action with Seager and the rest of the All Stars later Tuesday night. The game will be televised on Fox at 8 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/former-tar-heel-seager-ready-honor-star-status/