CHAPEL HILL– Senior defensive end Kareem Martin has been stepping up his game lately. Head Coach Larry Fedora says he attributes the spike in play to Martin seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on his career at Carolina.

“I think the thing that you see with Kareem is he can see that light at the end of the tunnel. He is trying to make the most of every play that he has,” Coach Fedora says.

Martin says despite the senior class being relatively small in number, they all have stepped up as vocal leaders on the team, providing guidance to their younger teammates.

“There is only about nine or so of us seniors. But you know even though there is less of us, we’re leading a lot more. There’s not many of us, but our impact can be seen in the locker room and on the field,” Martin says.

The rivalry game against N.C.State means a lot to Martin. He says he is pumped up about the chance to finish out his UNC career with two straight victories over the Wolfpack.

“Last year we were finally able to get the victory. To get two in a row against this squad would mean a whole lot. We’re taking it one game at a time, but to get this win would definitely be a lot bigger than maybe some of the others,” Martin says.

One year ago against N.C.State, lightning struck for the Tar Heels in the form of a punt return by Giovani Bernard. The moment will be enshrined in Carolina football folklore, and Martin says despite being on the sideline for the play, it was one of the best moments he’s had in a Carolina blue uniform.

“I was expecting him to get some yards, but I wasn’t expecting him to run it all the way back. I saw the set-up, and I saw the wall.  I just popped up; I was just like, ‘He might run this back!’ It was just crazy, everybody ran on the field. It was probably one of the best moments I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Martin says.

Martin has been causing more disruption in the backfield in the past couple of contests versus Miami and BostonCollege. He credits this to becoming more of a risk-taker.

“Taking risks is one of the biggest things. […] To make the plays you have to be willing to take the risks. You know, higher the risk, higher the reward. I think it’s been working for me,” Martin says.

Martin will be hoping some of those risks pay off again Saturday in Raleigh.