As we get ready to begin fall camp, it’s time for our Heel Tough Blog’s exclusive in-depth position previews. The series will take a look at every player on the Tar Heels 2019 roster, tell you the impact we expect each player to have and give you the projected depth chart position-by-position. We continue with a look at the Tar Heels 2019 running back unit.
The deepest unit for the 2019 Tar Heels is headlined by junior Michael Carter, who many are still expecting more from despite solid start to his college career. In his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, Carter ran for 1,156 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry, but because of injury issues and backfield depth has left something to be desired. Now fully healthy after a hand injury that kept him out of the spring game, Carter is expected to be the main back in the Tar Heels three-man rotation, comparing well to Jordan Wilkins, who had a phenomenal season in Phil Longo’s offense back in 2017. Coming off a sophomore season where he averaged 7.1 yards per carry, there is an expectation that Carter will take that next step.
Antonio Williams returns for his senior season at Carolina after getting his Tar Heel career off to a solid start in 2018. Williams led the Tar Heels in carries and touchdowns a year ago and his 504 yards were second on the team behind only Carter. Williams is more of a downhill runner than the other two and is the perfect change of pace from Carter’s running style. Williams has the capability of handling first-team carries and did just that while splitting starting duties a year ago with Carter. Expect Williams to handle a similar role to the one he handled a year ago for the Tar Heels in 2019.
Sophomore Javonte Williams is the third running back in the rotation and as he showed late last season, he looks like the future of this Tar Heel backfield. That doesn't mean that he won’t have a chance to have an impact this season, though. In the Tar Heels final two games of the season, Williams led the team in carries and rushing yards and scored four touchdowns, including three against Western Carolina. Williams has had another strong offseason and continues to make it difficult to keep him off the field. With Michael Carter and Antonio Williams still projected to be ahead of him on the depth, it’s hard to see him have a breakout season, but there is definitely a chance that he can improve on his 2018 numbers.
Behind the three-man starting rotation, there will be an interesting battle for that fourth running back spot who may receive carries in an injury situation or blowout game. True freshman fall enrollee Josh Henderson, who was the No. 39 running back in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite, is the addition to the running back group for the fall and with redshirt freshman Devon Lawrence stepping away from team prior to fall camp, he is set up to be that player that benefits. Henderson ran for 2,129 yards and 20 touchdowns at Hun High School in Princeton, NJ and he has the next dynamic running back in the Tar Heel backfield.
The challenge for Henderson will be fighting off redshirt freshman walk-on British Brooks, who has been a pleasant surprise in his time on campus. His strong spring game performance shows that he is worthy of battling for the garbage time reps.
Projected Depth Chart
# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.
#24 Antonio Williams, Sr.
#25 Javonte Williams, So.
#23 Josh Henderson, Fr.
#34 British Brooks, RFr.