Saturday, spring camp for the 2019 Tar Heels will conclude in Kenan Stadium with one of the most highly anticipated spring games in school history. Not only will the new coaching staff be on display for the first time, but the Heels will also have some major battles working themselves out on the field on Saturday. There is another group of players that fans should be keeping an eye on while in attendance. Here are five standouts from spring camp to watch for on Saturday.
OG Ed Montilus
As Mack Brown told reporters last week, Montilus has been thriving this spring under the new offensive staff. His quick progression has allowed him to take over as the starter at left guard, which has turned out to be important with Jay-Jay McCargo’s injury that has also forced Nick Polino to center before the spring. Montilus redshirted last year and so far he has showcased the upside that many saw from him last year when he committed. There is a real chance that if Montilus can hold off McCargo and former starter Billy Ross, he and high school teammate William Barnes, who came to Carolina as a package deal last February, could be the Heels starters at the two guard spots this fall.
WR Corey Bell Jr.
Bell Jr. made the move to wide receiver midway through camp and has received rave reviews from both the staff and his teammates. Bell Jr. has made that strong impression out of the slot, where the Heels currently lack experienced depth. Fall camp could be a huge chance for Bell Jr. to establish a role in this offense, especially if he continues to build upon what he’s shown early on at wide receiver. Even though three freshmen will join the battle in the fall, Bell Jr. has put himself in a good position to have an offensive role this season.
S D.J. Ford
Another player who Mack Brown raved about, this one a bit more recently following Tuesday’s practice, Ford’s emergence has been huge for the Heels this spring. The team entered the spring with the task of replacing J.K. Britt at strong safety, while also having both Myles Dorn and Myles Wolfolk limited, so Ford’s strong performance has eased some concerns that were profound early in camp. While Brown says that Ford is still working on improving as a tackler, he has really stepped his game up in other areas, primarily in pass coverage, and should be a big part of the Heels defense as a junior this season.
ILB Jeremiah Gemmel
While he may be the quietest player in the Carolina locker room, Gemmel’s play has been anything but this spring. He has continued to build around what he showed last year in camp that earned him the backup middle linebacker role last fall. With an extra linebacker position in Jay Bateman’s new defensive scheme and Jonathan Smith’s absence from the team in the fall to clean up academic issues, Gemmel has seen starter reps and, according to Mack Brown on Tuesday, has really thrived. Gemmel’s strong tackling ability and good closing speed have put him in position to claim one of the two starting inside linebacking roles, especially if Smith is unable to return to the team in the fall.
NB Trey Morrison
You may wonder why the Heels best defensive back is listed here. Morrison was a breakout star last year as a true freshman out of his nickelback position and has been phenomenal once again this spring. Just about every highlight tape shows Morrison making a play on the football, but what it hasn’t shown you is the fact that Morrison has become a vocal leader. With so much senior experience leaving the Heels in the offseason due to graduation, the team was in need of new leaders, and Morrison has reportedly slid into one of those roles relatively quickly. Morrison has round into arguably the Heels best defensive player and should be really interesting to keep an eye on this fall.