Invited to tryout at the team’s rookie mini-camp following April’s NFL Draft, former UNC running back Romar Morris was officially signed to the New York Jets’ 90-man roster Tuesday morning.
However, a standout performance at UNC’s pro day this past spring–where he ran the 40-yard dash in an incredible 4.3 seconds–put him back on the radar of many NFL scouts.
With the added importance of speed in the NFL, a league comprised of the nation’s best athletes, the Jets may be hoping to find the next “Fast” Willie Parker.
Morris, a 5-foot-9-inch speedster, carried the ball 69 times for 386 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, while also helping as a receiver out of the backfield–adding 12 receptions for 204 yards and a pair of scores.
Never again during his time in Chapel Hill, though, would Morris account for that much yardage, as head coach Larry Fedora continued to rotate a plethora of other talented running backs–such as AJ Blue, TJ Logan and Elijah Hood–into his fast-paced offensive system.
This past season, Morris was given just 19 touches–10 carries and nine receptions. He also found the endzone just once in his senior campaign, accounting for only 64 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards as the team’s fourth option at his position.
For his career at UNC, Morris earned 13 starts in 50 games. He had 213 carries for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns, with 54 receptions for 499 yards and two TDs.
Parker, who displayed similar top-notch speed–played for UNC from 2000-2003 under John Bunting, and like Morris, saw his production drop off throughout his college career.
The Pittsburgh Steelers liked what they saw from Parker in terms of his athleticism, though, and decided to sign him to an undrafted rookie contract anyway.
He then made the team and ended up playing six seasons in the Steel City, rushing for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons from 2005-2007.
In 2005, Parker also helped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL–a game where he ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run, still the longest run in the game’s prestigious history.
For Morris to even have a shot to reach the same lofty heights as Parker, however, he’ll need to first make the Jets’ 53-man regular season roster.
That process will begin during NFL Training Camps later this summer, where rosters are whittled down each week throughout the preseason.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/undrafted-unc-rb-romar-morris-signs-with-ny-jets
After a remarkable season in which he led the UNC men’s golf team in a wide variety of categories, junior Carter Jenkins said Tuesday he will forego his final year of college eligibility in order to become a professional.
An All-ACC selection in 2016, Jenkins–who spent a year and a half in Chapel Hill after transferring from UNC-Greensboro–had three top-10s in 11 starts with a season-best second-place finish at the Primland Collegiate Invitational.
He also tied the school record for lowest round under par by shooting a 63 (good enough for 9-under-par) in the final round at Primland.
Jenkins’ professional debut is scheduled for May 26 at the Freedom 55 Financial Open at the Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver–as part of the Mackenzie Tour, which is essentially the Canadian PGA Tour.
“My time at UNC was very special – it matured me as a person and a golfer and allowed me to make friendships with my coaches and teammates that will last my lifetime,” Jenkins said, in a press release.
“Professional golf is something I have worked for my whole life and it has always been my number one goal to win on the PGA Tour.”
Prior to joining the Tar Heels, Jenkins was named the Southern Conference Rookie of the Year for his achievements in Greensboro.
He won two events for the Spartans, and earned All-Conference honors as well.
And as far as amateur success is concerned, there aren’t too many other golfers out there who can match Jenkins’ resume.
The Raleigh native won eight Carolinas Golf Association titles–including the 2015 North Carolina Amateur–and three consecutive Carolinas Amateurs. In doing so, he became the first player in 92 years to win the Carolinas Amateur in three straight years.
“Carter has a wonderful opportunity to play on the PGA Tour Canada, and we are excited for this next step in his golf career,” UNC head coach Andrew Sapp said of his top player.
“We will definitely miss him next season, but support him reaching for his goals to make it to the PGA Tour,” Sapp continued. “He has been a pleasure to coach and he will forever be a Tar Heel.”http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-golfer-carter-jenkins-turns-pro-will-debut-this-week
As they await their NCAA Tournament fate after missing out on this week’s ACC Tournament, the UNC baseball team received some good news on Monday.
Three Tar Heels were selected to All-ACC teams, while sophomore shortstop Logan Warmoth was named the conference’s Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 with a home run and eight RBIs in UNC’s last four games.
JB Bukauskas, a sophomore starting pitcher, and Tyler Ramirez, a junior center fielder, were each named to the All-ACC second team.
UNC’s Friday night ace–junior Zac Gallen–rounded out the team’s all-conference selections with a spot on the All-ACC third team.
No Tar Heel was on the first team.
Despite closing the year strong, Warmoth didn’t quite make the cut for any of the All-Conference teams, but he showed great potential heading into his junior year–flashing a great glove at shortstop and leading the team with 53 RBIs.
Ramirez was arguably the most consistent Tar Heel all season–both offensively and defensively.
The native of Suffolk, Virginia hit .333 during the season with eight home runs and 47 RBIs, while also making a number of highlight plays in the outfield.
Gallen, a crafty starter with great control–posted a 5-6 record with 91 strikeouts and a 2.68 ERA in 13 starts. His win-loss record suffered mainly due to a lack of run support during the latter half of the year.
Both Ramirez and Gallen, as juniors, are expected to be selected in June’s MLB Draft–meaning they may have already played their final games as Tar Heels should the team miss the NCAA Tournament.
Bukauskas, however, just finished his sophomore season having established himself as one of the league’s most dominant starters.
His 97 mph fastball–mixed with a devastating 88 mph slider–helped him pick up an ACC-leading 111 strikeouts while having a 7-2 record and a 3.10 ERA.
Next season’s edition of the Diamond Heels will likely feature Bukauskas and Warmoth as centerpieces, as the team looks to return to the ACC success that had become commonplace over the last decade.
Eight times since 1993 the UNC men’s lacrosse team reached the NCAA Quarterfinals, only to come up short on each occasion.
After starting 2016 with a 3-3 record–and minus some of its most talented players from last season–few would have expected this group of Tar Heels to do any different.
Two months later, here we are. The ninth time was the charm.
UNC is heading to the Final Four after Sunday’s 13-9 victory over the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the preseason national title favorite.
Playing at the famed Ohio Stadium in Columbus–where head coach Joe Breschi once led the Ohio State Buckeyes–the Tar Heels (10-6) absolutely dominated the Fighting Irish (11-4) from start to finish in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggests.
“There was no pressure on them,” Breschi said in his TV interview after the game. “We’ve just competed every week.
“We had a heart-to-heart after we were 3-3,” an emotional Breschi continued. “These guys…I love all of them.”
Senior attacker Steve Pontrello scored four goals in the second half for UNC, while Chris Cloutier–a sophomore from Ontario, Canada–got the team off to a flying start by tallying all three of his goals in the first half, including one incredible play where he scored with a nifty, behind-the-back shot.
Luke Goldstock and Michael Tagliaferri each added two goals apiece–with Patrick Kelly also scoring once–as the Tar Heels simply overwhelmed Notre Dame with their fast-paced offensive attack.
By pushing the ball downfield before their opponents had a chance to get set, UNC generated a number of high-percentage opportunities on net–which they consistently took advantage of.
Notre Dame tied the game 2-2 just before the end of the first quarter, but the Tar Heels then reeled off a stunning 8-0 run over the next 29 minutes– a span that lasted nearly two full quarters.
With junior Stephen Kelly continually winning in the face-off circle after each UNC goal, it made it seem like the game was being played–for a little while, at least–under “make it, take it” rules.
Only once the outcome was no longer in doubt did the Fighting Irish start to make a run. Notre Dame had a 6-1 edge in fourth quarter scoring, and scored the final five goals of the game.
Not once, though, did UNC ever feel threatened.
The Tar Heels were content to just pass the ball around over the final 15 minutes, making sure there would be no funny business preventing them from the upset win.
Breschi teared up on the sidelines when the clock finally ran out, as the coach had finally achieved the goal of returning his alma mater–where he’s been the head man since leaving Ohio State in 2009–to Championship Weekend.
He was also back in the state where his 3-year-old son, Michael, was killed in 2004 after being struck by an SUV in a parking lot outside his preschool.
“Patrick Kelly spoke at breakfast this morning and dedicated the game to my son,” Breschi said, choking up on camera. “I’m just so proud of them. Go Heels.”
UNC returns to action Saturday May 28 in Philadelphia, where it will take on the winner of the game between Towson and Loyola (Md).
The results across the ACC baseball landscape this weekend–including UNC’s 16-4 destruction of NC State on Friday–put the Tar Heels into a simple predicament.
A win Saturday at Doak Field would guarantee UNC’s entry into next week’s conference tournament in Durham.
Well, then the Tar Heels (34-21, 13-17 ACC) would need Georgia Tech to win at least once during its double-header against Boston College.
Unfortunately for head coach Mike Fox and his squad, the No. 13 Wolfpack (34-18, 15-13 ACC) were out for vengeance–clinching the series with a 10-1 blowout they can call their own.
Boston College also defeated the Yellow Jackets in both games of the all-important doubleheader in Atlanta.
So for the first time since 2010, the Tar Heels failed to qualify for the ACC Tournament.
Back in Raleigh, though, The Wolfpack received great pitching from each of the four players it used on the mound.
An outstanding start from lefty Ryan Williamson–five strikeouts across 3.1 innings–set the tone, as UNC never once got in a rhythm at the plate–even after Williamson was suddenly removed during the fourth inning .
Junior outfielder Adam Pate went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Tar Heels, which accounted for half of the team’s six hits.
Those struggles continued over to the pitching for UNC, as right-hander Jason Morgan started and gave up three runs–including a two-run homer to Preston Palmeiro–in just three innings.
It was the eighth time in his last 10 starts Morgan failed to make it through five innings.
Finding the strike zone was a problem for the entire Tar Heel staff–all seven that they used throughout the game.
NC State took full advantage of the control issues, by drawing eight walks and scoring a majority of their runs because of them.
A wild pitch by Morgan in the bottom of the second inning allowed the first run to score, while reliever AJ Bogucki’s pitch hit Wolfpack second baseman Stephen Pitarra with the bases loaded in the fourth.
Similar issues continued into the sixth inning, as Hansen Butler walked Brett Kinneman on four pitches with the bags full to put NC State ahead 6-1.
Cole Aker, a Tar Heel freshman, managed to put the ball right over the plate in the seventh–only for NC State’s Evan Mendoza to put it over the wall in left-center field for a two-run blast.
The Wolfpack seemed perfectly content prolonging the beatdown, just as the Tar Heels were the night before–adding another run in the eighth inning on an RBI single from senior Ryne Willard.
By the end, UNC was left knowing that it no longer controlled its own destiny.
Although it’s been noted that the Tar Heels have a shot to sneak into the NCAA Tournament without making the ACC Tournament, advancing to Durham and winning a couple games would certainly improve their odds.
Now all they can do is wait and watch.
UNC’s regular season is complete, and because the Tar Heels didn’t make the ACC Tourney they’ll have to wait until next Monday to find out if their season will continue into the NCAA Regionals.
Facing a Notre Dame team that averages nearly 14 goals per game, the No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team locked down defensively Saturday to knock off the No. 6 Fighting Irish 10-6 at Fetzer Field in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
With the win, the Tar Heels (18-2) advance to next weekend’s Final Four in Philadelphia–making their second straight appearance in the semifinals, and third in the last four seasons.
The duo of Marie McCool and Molly Hendrick–who were each recently named First Team All-Americans–combined for half of UNC’s scoring against Notre Dame (14-7).
Two of McCool’s three goals came during the final 30 minutes, while Hendrick scored once during each half.
Five other players chipped in a goal to the Tar Heel cause, as UNC displayed a brilliant offensive attack–passing the ball brilliantly to avoid a physical Fighting Irish team that likes to defend by poking the ball out from behind.
As good as UNC was on offense, though, it was its defense that stole the show–much like it did in their 14-8 win over Notre Dame on April 3.
After taking a 6-4 lead into the break, UNC stormed out of the locker room and suffocated the Fighting Irish attack.
The Tar Heels still continued to score as well, building a 10-5 lead over the next 27 minutes.
Notre Dame’s Kiera McMullan scored the game’s final goal with under three minutes remaining, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.
McMullan was one of just two Fighting Irish players–along with Cortney Fortunato–to find the back of the net twice.
It was a script similar to their win over Duke in the previous round for the Tar Heels. They built a slim lead after a competitive first half before, holding their opponent to just two goals in the second half.
In each game, UNC was clearly the more dominant, well-rounded, team–displaying a solid mix of offense and defense that its opponents simply haven’t been able to match.
A chance to make some noise at the Final Four in Philly, against the three best teams the nation has to offer.
The Tar Heels will play Penn State in their National Semifinal game on Friday, May 27.
With their season hanging in the balance, the UNC baseball team played lights out Friday night at Doak Field in Raleigh.
A stadium power outage in the middle of the sixth inning delayed the game for 17 minutes–with the Tar Heels ahead 8-2–before their 16-4 blowout of the No. 13 NC State Wolfpack was finally completed.
The first four hitters in UNC’s lineup–Brian Miller, Logan Warmoth, Tyler Ramirez and Zack Gahagan–each had at least two RBIs, providing all the power the Tar Heels (34-20, 13-16 ACC) would need.
Warmoth in particular, though, was the standout performer–going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a two-run double in the eighth.
In two games this series, the sophomore shortstop has gone 6-for-9 with seven RBIs.
JB Bukauskas (7-2) continued his stellar season on the mound for the Tar Heels, delivering six innings while adding nine strikeouts–giving him 111 on the year, good enough to lead the ACC.
After UNC opened up a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Bukauskas had the benefit of pitching from ahead the entire time he was in the game.
The Wolfpack (33-18, 14-13 ACC) finally broke through against Bukauskas in the middle innings with a pair of two-run blasts–one by left fielder Brett Kinneman in the fourth and another by Preston Palmeiro in the sixth following the power outage.
By that point, however, NC State’s chances of coming back against a clearly motivated Tar Heel team were as dim as its stadium during that 17-minute delay.
UNC exploded for five runs in the top of the seventh, before adding two in the eighth and one more in the ninth–just to be safe.
It was a blowout of epic proportions, comparable to last November’s football game between the two Triangle rivals.
Head coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels jumped out to a 35-7 first quarter lead in Carter-Finley Stadium that day, then cruised to its 11th straight victory.
On each occasion, the Tar Heels had a number of reasons to leave Raleigh feeling quite good about themselves.
Not only did it clinch a big rivalry win Friday, a pair of losses by Notre Dame this weekend also moves UNC into position to finally clinch a berth in the ACC Tournament.
Should the Tar Heels win the series finale with NC State on Saturday–or if Boston College loses once during its double-header against Georgia Tech–they will be locked into the field of 10 that will play next week in Durham.
Some national writers, like Aaron Fitt of D1baseball.com, are saying that UNC may have already done enough to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens.
UNC will be 13-16 after today; RPI currently No. 16. If UNC loses tomorrow, could still get in at 13-17 with that RPI. But 14-16 much safer.
— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) May 21, 2016
A win Saturday would clinch bragging rights for the Tar Heels, however, and sometimes that means more.
The series rubber match between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The UNC men’s tennis team isn’t ready to go home just yet.
Continuing the best season in program history, the No. 2 Tar Heels defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 on Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Now halfway home in their quest for the outdoor national championship–after winning the indoor title in February–UNC (28-4) also set a new school record with its 28th win.
It was also the third straight 4-0 win for the Tar Heels during the tournament, as they have yet to drop a single team point on their way to the quarterfinals.
Mississippi State (18-9) was able to win one of the three doubles sets, and even forced UNC’s team of Brayden Schnur and Jack Murray into a tiebreak.
The Tar Heels prevailed, however, and went on to cruise to a trio of straight-set victories in the singles portion of the event.
Schnur, UNC’s top ranked player at No. 26 in the country, was the first to finish–getting a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 34 Mate Catura.
Soon after, No. 46 Brett Clark defeated No. 70 Nuno Borges 6-4, 6-4 for his 116th career singles victory as a Tar Heel.
Jack Murray then locked up UNC’s third consecutive trip to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Niclas Braun.
It was quite the response by a Tar Heel squad which saw their women’s counterparts–also among the favorites to bring home a championship–prematurely sent home on Thursday.
UNC returns to action on Sunday, May 22–facing off against the winner of USC and Georgia at 5 p.m.
The UNC baseball team traveled to Raleigh on Thursday knowing it likely has to win at least two of its three games against No. 13 NC State to qualify for the ACC Tournament.
Round one, however, went to the team in red.
NC State put together back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and seventh–then held off a furious Tar Heel rally in the ninth–to pull out a 6-4 victory at Doak Field.
The loss sends UNC to a record of 33-20 (12-16 ACC), while putting a damper on a career night for sophomore shortstop Logan Warmoth.
Warmoth went 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the ninth inning–making him responsible for half of the Tar Heels’ eight hits in the game.
Zac Gallen–in what could have been his final collegiate start as UNC’s ace–got tagged for a season-high five earned runs over 6.1 innings.
He was outstanding for five innings, but the Wolfpack lineup simply took full advantage of a couple opportunities later in the game.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, NC State sophomore Stephen Pitarra doubled off of Gallen with one out–just the third hit of the night for the home team.
After Gallen sat Evan Mendoza down in the next at-bat, Preston Palmeiro, Joe Dunand and Brock Deatherage strung together three straight RBI hits–all with two outs.
Momentum followed NC State into the seventh, where it forced Gallen out of the game by getting men over to second and third base with just one out.
UNC reliever Brett Daniels entered the game, but immediately allowed Pitarra to kick-start the next big inning for the Wolfpack.
The local product from nearby Cary, NC singled home NC State’s fourth run–sending a 2-0 pitch from Daniels into center field.
Mendoza then hit a sacrifice fly, before Dunand later picked up his second RBI of the night with a two-out double to left.
Eight of the Wolfpack’s 10 hits came during that crucial two-inning span.
Not until the top of the ninth–their final chance–did the Tar Heels have any kind of answer.
Pinch-hitter Wyatt Cross walked to begin the frame, followed by a single from Cody Roberts.
The next man up, Brian Miller, brought Cross home with a single. Warmoth added his third RBI two batters later.
With the tying run on first base, and just one out, both Brandon Riley and Zack Gahagan grounded into fielder’s choices to end the game.
It’s safe to say that at this point–with just two regular season games remaining–the Tar Heels’ backs are clearly pressed against the wall.
How they respond could make all the difference.
Friday’s game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. JB Bukauskas will be on the mound for the Tar Heels, facing off with NC State’s Brian Brown.
For three months, a span that includes 21 matches and a perfect 17-0 ACC record, the No. 3 UNC women’s tennis team has consistently found a way to top its competition.
That narrative came crashing to a sudden halt Thursday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Michael Case Tennis Center–when the No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers shocked the Tar Heels 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament round of 16.
The nation’s No. 12 player, Virginia’s Julia Elbaba, put the finishing touches on the upset by defeating No. 41 Whitney Kay, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, in a three-set thriller.
They battled for over three hours, but head coach Brian Kalbas’s Tar Heels came up just a bit short on a day that required a number of clutch performances.
After losing the doubles point for just the third time all year, UNC (31-3) recovered to take a 2-1 lead during singles competition with strong play from Ashley Dai and Marika Akkerman.
Akkerman finished first with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Erica Susi, while Dai defeated Cassie Mercer 6-2, 6-3 shortly after.
The Cavaliers (19-10) then tied it up 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory by Meghan Kelley over the Tar Heels’ Kate Vialle.
Each of the other three singles matches, though, needed three sets to decide a winner.
UNC freshman Jessie Aney, ranked No. 57, won her first set, 6-3, against Virginia senior Stephanie Nauta. Nauta recovered, however, and took the match by winning each of the next two sets 6-0, 6-0.
This left the Tar Heels’ fate in the hands of their two best players–Kay and No. 1 Hayley Carter.
Each would need to pull out wins for UNC to advance, while Virginia needed to win just one of the final two matches to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals.
Locked in a battle between the country’s top two players, Carter was leading her match with No. 2 Danielle Collins, 6-4, 2-6, 5-4, when Elbaba finished off Kay and clinched the team victory for Virginia.
Trailing 4-3 in the final set against Elbaba, Kay had three opportunities for a break point–which would have tied the set 4-4.
Momentum swung back Virginia’s way, however, as Elbaba recovered to win both the game and the match for her team.
The Tar Heels could only watch as their opponents–who they had previously beaten twice this season–celebrated on the court afterwards.