Three Players No Longer On UNC Football Roster

CHAPEL HILL — Three North Carolina players have left the program and the status of a fourth is in doubt.

Team spokesman Kevin Best said Wednesday that senior defensive tackle Shawn Underwood, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Gregg Webb and sophomore linebacker Clint Heaven are no longer on the team.

Best says Underwood and Webb left for personal reasons while Heaven transferred to Northern Iowa.

Additionally, the status of sophomore offensive guard J.J. Patterson is in doubt. Best says Patterson will not be part of the 105-man roster that will report to training camp, which starts Thursday.

Underwood was listed as a possible starter on the Tar Heels’ preseason depth chart.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/three-players-longer-unc-football-roster/

Storylines Abound as Coach Fedora, Tar Heels Open Training Camp

The waiting days are over for the Tar Heel football players. After an offseason of intrigue and growing excitement, the Tar Heels are to report to campus Thursday for the start of official preseason practices. Only a month remains before the regular season kickoff for Head Coach Larry Fedora’s troops.

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“We all learned a lesson from last season that we don’t want to start out a season like we did. That’s a good thing if something good can come out of that. Unfortunately, last year we had to play a lot of young guys, but fortunately for this year, all those young guys got a lot of experience. They won’t be so wide-eyed at the beginning of the season. They’ll know what’s going on and play the way they should play,” Coach Fedora says.

With a year under the belt for a majority of the key athletes on the Tar Heel roster, it will be interesting to observe first-hand the improvement most of the Carolina coaching staff and players have been talking about for months now.

Coach Fedora has a veritable laundry list of offensive playmakers ready to explode this fall. Not surprisingly, the UNC skipper is highly optimistic about his chances on the offensive side of the football.

“We’ve got Jack Tabb at the tight end position following Eric Ebron. You can go out to Quinshad Davis, T.J. Thorpe and Bug Howard. You’ve got Ryan Switzer in the slot, and you’ve got T.J. Logan, Khris Francis, Elijah Hood and Romar Morris in the backfield. We’ve got a little bit of talent,” Coach Fedora says.

“A little bit of talent” may be an extreme understatement. But one of the most fascinating inner-squad battles to watch in the preseason period will no doubt be the competition for the starting quarterback position.

Although junior Marquise Williams represented the Tar Heels at the ACC Kickoff media event a couple weeks ago, Coach Fedora has either kept his cards close to the vest on his chosen leader or is speaking the truth when he says the job is up for grabs.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora (Elliott Rubin)

UNC head coach Larry Fedora (Elliott Rubin)

Either way, it’s the developing story that everybody wants to see. It’s ironic that the man who is to carry the unit that promises so much in 2014 has yet to be named.

But Coach Fedora maintains there’s another X-factor that will determine the prolific nature of his offense this fall – the offensive line.

“We ought to be able to score some points, if we can gel up front. That’s going to be the key to our team,” Coach Fedora says.

As far as the broader landscape of where his Tar Heels fit into the ACC race, Coach Fedora agrees with the media members, projecting the Coastal division title as up for grabs.

“I believe the Coastal is wide open. I believe anybody can win it. I believe it’s going to be the team that turns the ball over the fewest times, plays best defense and continues to be good on special teams,” Coach Fedora says.

Marquise Williams will be aiming to return as starter this fall (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams will be aiming to return as starter this fall (UNC Athletics)

Will the ever-youthful Tar Heels be able to take care of the fundamentals of the game that so often decide nail-biting contests in the parity-laden ACC?

It’s anybody’s guess for now, but Coach Fedora has his eyes set on the bigger picture of the program. He says Carolina’s stock is rising, primed for a big payout in the near future.

“I think we’re making the progress that we’ve expected to make. Now it’s continuing that and staying on track. As long as we stay true to our philosophy and keep doing the things the way we think they ought to be done, we’ll get over the hump,” Coach Fedora says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/storylines-abound-coach-fedora-tar-heels-open-training-camp/

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.

***Listen to the story***

“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/

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/

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.

***Listen to the story***

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/

UNC Football Championship Bet At 100/1

While many are looking forward to another winning season from UNC Football, Bovada Online Gaming released the Tar Heels only have a 100/1 chance of winning the national title this season.

Bovada, an online gambling and betting destination for sports enthusiasts, released their 2014-2015 national championship odds for 51 college football teams last week.

The team at the top of the list to win the national title is the ACC’s own Florida State Seminoles, led by sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston, with an 11/2 chance. The next ACC teams with better odds to win are Clemson with a 66/1 chance and Miami at 75/1, with UNC filling the 4th best spot in the conference.

Although Bovada hasn’t given the Tar Heels much of a fighting chance, Coach Larry Fedora and his new-and-improved squad are ranked 18th in the preseason by Bleacher Report and projected to make a name for their program through the new College Football Playoff format.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-championship-bet-1001/