UNC Switch Shooter Nate Britt Relishing Summer Preparations

Carolina basketball shooting guard Nate Britt has grabbed headlines this summer with his decision to switch his shooting hand from his left to his right. The sophomore recently sat down with GoHeels.com’s Jones Angell to discuss what prompted the change, as well as his expectations for the next season.

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“I always played with both hands. In games, I would shoot left-handed and right-handed. In high school, I decided to play with one hand, so I could lock in on one hand and give it more attention. I decided to choose my left hand. I’m naturally left-handed,” Britt says.

Britt’s shooting background is interesting to say the least. But he’s changed his mind on his shooting hand after struggling with his accuracy from the field during last year’s basketball campaign.

But Britt says it wasn’t his decision alone to make the switch. It was a group call made by his father and coaches.

“My dad and I have always talked about how I should shoot right-handed again. After this year, Coach Davis saw me shoot right-handed. Coach [Williams] has seen me shoot with it. We decided to test it out. We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far. I’m sticking with it,” Britt says.

Britt acknowledges that the news may come as a shock to most of the public, but he says it’s no big deal for him personally.

“I’ve always done it that way. It’s very natural to me. I know a lot of people are like, ‘Why would you do that?’ It’s always been something I’ve done. It’s nothing new to me. It’s just a tad bit of a difference,” Britt says.

Britt drives in (Todd Melet)

Britt drives in (Todd Melet)

Last season, Britt averaged a mere 5.1 points and 2.4 assists while averaging 20.9 minutes per contest. But it was a far brighter story from the charity stripe. While a majority of the Tar Heels struggled mightily to find the mark from the foul line, Britt fired down an impressive 28 of 30 free throws in ACC play, a 93-percent clip.

But Tar Heel fans need not worry. At least from the foul line, Britt has no attention to abandon his left-handed ways.

Britt is hoping he’ll really let head coach Roy Williams’ teachings sink in even further in year two at Chapel Hill. He says he’s trying to be less mechanical on the floor and let it flow.

“I would like to better understand the way the coaches want me to play – incorporating it, not being a robot out there and actually playing basketball,” Britt says.

Britt grabs loose ball (Zimbio.com)

Britt grabs loose ball (Zimbio.com)

Building up strength in the offseason was a priority for the slender Britt. He says he’s pleased at his progress in that department so far.

“I definitely know I’ve got stronger. Through the weight gains I’ve made, I’ve been able to lift heavier weights with the leg and arm exercises we do. I do feel that I’m bigger. I feel stronger. I’m happy with that,” Britt says.

In terms of goals, Britt is keeping it simple and recycling an old buzz phrase from last season: playing with a sense of urgency.

“I would like for us to do a better job of always playing with that sense of urgency that we didn’t have all the time last year. I feel like if we do that, the sky’s the limit for us,” Britt says.

Tar Heel observers can expect a bit of confusion when the switch shooting Britt takes the floor in the Smith Center this fall. But whether he’s shooting right or left-handed, the goal will be the same: finding the bottom of the net.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-switch-shoote-britt-relishing-summer-preparations/

Ebron, Dunn To Receive UNC’s Patterson Medal

Crystal Dunn, the first player to win ACC women’s soccer player of the year awards for both offense and defense, and record-setting football tight end Eric Ebron are the recipients of the 2013-14 Patterson Medals, the top awards for career athletic achievement awarded at the University of North Carolina.

Dunn, a midfielder/defender from Rockville Centre, N.Y., was a three-time first-team All-America and earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in each of her four seasons. She totaled 31 goals and 25 assists for 87 points in 80 games, including five goals in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that the Tar Heels won. In leading UNC to the national championship, Dunn won the Hermann Trophy and Honda Award, was also named the country’s best player by Soccer America and Soccer News and won the Mary Garber Award as the ACC’s top female athlete in any sport.

Dunn is the only player in ACC history to win Defensive Player of the Year honors twice (2010 and 2012) and added the Offensive Player of the Year award in 2013 when she had 14 goals and six assists. No other ACC player has ever won both awards.

A starter on defense for the United States National Team, Dunn was a member of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 World Cup. She was the first pick in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League Draft by the Washington Spirit.

“I’m incredibly proud of Crystal,” says Carolina women’s soccer head coach Anson Dorrance. “She climbed to the top of the collegiate game by being the top defensive player in the ACC as just a freshman. She went on to win it again as a junior and then was the offensive player of the year in the best league in the country in her senior year. Her versatility both for us and for the youth national teams she played on made her a standout. Like our previous Patterson Medal winners, she earned her way on to the full national team as an undergraduate, which is remarkable in itself and rare for a collegian.”

Ebron played three seasons for UNC before declaring for the NFL Draft, where the Detroit Lions chose him with the 10th pick in the first round. The Greensboro, N.C., native was a first-team All-America in 2013 (ESPN.com) and consensus second-team All-America (Associated Press, USA Today, Walter Camp, FWAA, Athlon, SI.com and CBSSports.com). He earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2013 and was a second-team selection as a sophomore.

He holds UNC career records for tight ends with 112 catches and 1,805 yards. In 2013, he set single-season school records for a tight end with 62 catches for 973 yards. The yardage is an ACC single-season record for the position.

His 79-yard reception against Duke last year is the longest catch by any Tar Heel in Kenan Stadium history. He hauled in a career-best nine passes in 2013 road win over NC State and made eight catches for 199 yards and a touchdown in a memorable Thursday night game vs. Miami. The 199 yards are the most ever by a UNC tight end in a game.

Ebron had eight touchdown catches as a Tar Heel and averaged 16.1 yards per reception. In 2012, he compiled 625 receiving yards, which broke the school record for tight ends that had been established in 1979.

“Eric is a uniquely talented individual with an infectious personality and I enjoyed coaching him,” says Tar Heel head football coach Larry Fedora. “He thrived in our offense, setting school and conference records, and was a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. I’ve seen Eric mature both on and off the field and he has a promising future in the professional ranks. The football program is proud to recognize Eric as a Patterson Medal winner.”

The Patterson Medal is based primarily on athletic accomplishment. The recipients must have played at least three seasons for the Tar Heels. Sportsmanship and leadership are also considered. Dr. Joseph Patterson first presented the medal in 1924 to honor the memory of his brother, John Durand Patterson. The Patterson family will help present the medals to Dunn and Ebron at ceremonies in the upcoming school year.

Ebron is the 35th football player to win the Patterson Medal and the third in the last four years. Dunn is the 14th women’s soccer player to receive the award in the last 25 years.

Patterson Medal Winners
1924— Monk McDonald (football, basketball, baseball)
1925— M.D. Bonner (football)
1926— Jack Cobb (basketball)
1927— Ad Warren (football, boxing, wrestling)
1928— Galen Elliott (track)
1929— Henry Satterfield (basketball)
1930— Ray Farris Sr. (football, boxing, baseball)
1931— Henry House (football, baseball)
1932— Staton McIver (football)
1933— Stuart Chandler (football)
1934— Virgil Weathers (basketball)
1935— Harry Williamson (track)
1936— Harry Montgomery (football)
1937— R.D. Buck (football)
1938— Andy Bershak (football, basketball)
1939— George Nethercutt (baseball)
1940— George Stirnweiss (football, baseball)
1941— Paul Severin (football, basketball)
1942— Bobby Gersten (basketball, baseball)
1943— Carlyle Thomas Mangum (track)
1944— Denny Hammond (swimming)
1945— E.B. Schulz (track)
1946— Jim Jordan (basketball)
1947— Walt Pupa (football)
1948— Jim Camp (football
1949— Vic Seixas (tennis)
1950— Charlie Justice (football)
1951— Jimmy Thomas (swimming)
1952— Cecil Milton (swimming and men’s tennis)
1953— Chalmers Port (baseball, football)
1954— Miles Gregory (football, wrestling)
1955— Albert Long Jr. (track, football, basketball, baseball)
1956— Jerry Vayda (basketball)
1957— Lennie Rosenbluth (basketball)
1958— Buddy Payne (football)
1959— Dave Scurlock (track)
1960— Jack Cummings (football)
1961— Rip Hawkins (football)
1962— Ray Farris Jr. (football)
1963— Joe Craver (football)
1964— Bill Haywood (baseball, soccer)
1965— Harrison Merrill (swimming)
1966— John Shaw (baseball)
1967— Danny Talbott (football, baseball)
1968— Larry Miller (basketball)
1969— Bill Bunting (basketball)
1970— Charlie Scott (basketball)
1971— Don McCauley (football)
1972— Dennis Wuycik (basketball)
1973— George Karl (basketball)
1974— Tony Waldrop (track)
1975— Charles Waddell (football, track, basketball)
1976— Mitch Kupchak (men’s basketball)
1977— Walter Davis (men’s basketball)
1978— Phil Ford (men’s basketball)
1979— Greg Norris (baseball)
1980— Bonny Brown (women’s swimming)
1981— Lawrence Taylor (football), Al Wood (men’s basketball)
1982— C.D. Mock (wrestling)
1983— David Drechsler (football)
1984— Sue Walsh (women’s swimming)
1985— Ethan Horton (football)
1986— Brad Daugherty (men’s basketball)
1987— Kenny Smith (men’s basketball)
1988— Rob Koll (wrestling)
1989— Jeff Lebo (men’s basketball)
1990— Shannon Higgins (women’s soccer)
1991— Sharon Couch (women’s track and field)
1992— Dwight Hollier (football)
1993— Kristine Lilly (women’s soccer)
1994— Mia Hamm (women’s soccer)
1995— Tisha Venturini (women’s soccer)
1996— Marcus Jones (football)
1997— Debbie Keller (women’s soccer)
1998— Antawn Jamison (men’s basketball), Cindy Werley (field hockey)
1999— Ebenezer Ekuban (football), Cindy Parlow (women’s soccer)
2000— Lorrie Fair (women’s soccer), Tripp Phillips (men’s tennis)
2001— Meredith Florance (women’s soccer), Brendan Haywood (men’s basketball)
2002— Katie Hathaway (women’s swimming), Danny Jackson (men’s soccer)
2003— Matt Crawford (men’s soccer), Laura Greene (volleyball)
2004— Shalane Flanagan (women’s track and field and cross country), Nicholas Monroe (men’s tennis), Catherine Reddick (women’s soccer)
2005— Jed Prossner (men’s lacrosse), Alice Schmidt (women’s track and field and cross country)
2006— Laura Gerraughty (women’s track and field), Andrew Miller (baseball)
2007— Ivory Latta (women’s basketball), Heather O’Reilly (women’s soccer), Robert Woodard (baseball)
2008— Rachel Dawson (field hockey), Chad Flack (baseball)
2009— Dustin Ackley (baseball), Yael Averbuch (women’s soccer), Tyler Hansbrough (men’s basketball)
2010— Whitney Engen (women’s soccer), Casey Nogueira (women’s soccer), Chip Peterson (men’s swimming)
2011— Corey Donohoe (women’s lacrosse), Mateo Sossah (track and field), T.J. Yates (football)
2012— Katelyn Falgowksi (field hockey), Tyler Zeller (men’s basketball)
2013— Kara Cannizzaro (women’s lacrosse), Jonathan Cooper (football)
2014¬— Crystal Dunn (women’s soccer), Eric Ebron (football)

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/ebron-dunn-receive-uncs-patterson-medal/

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.

***Listen to the story***

“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/