Saturday, spring football in Chapel Hill came to its conclusion when the Heels took to the Kenan Stadium grass surface for the final time. There were some strong performances, but let’s take a look at five standout performances from yesterday’s game.
QB Sam Howell
The true freshman was the first quarterback to take snaps on Saturday and did not disappoint. Between both teams, Howell completed 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 131 yards, a touchdown and an interception, although the interception was not on him. Howell showed why many people believe he might be the next great quarterback at Carolina, leading his receivers beautifully on nearly every route and showing off a strong arm with the 3rd & 13 touchdown pass to Roscoe Johnson from 42 yards out. The rumors entering the week were that he was slightly trailing both redshirt freshmen in the heated quarterback race. After Saturday, that discussion should be no more and the talks of a possible true freshman vs. true freshman have to be discussed once again.
WR Corey Bell Jr.
The graduate senior’s move to wide receiver has been talked about repeatedly over the past few weeks and on Saturday, many saw why. Bell Jr. caught five of his six targets for 67 yards, all for Team Tar Heels. His crisp route running and ability to make defenders miss in the open field make him an interesting weapon that will have a chance to lockdown that backup slot role in the fall.
RB Javonte Williams
Williams closed the year as the starter for the Heels a year ago, in part due to injury, but as he showed once again on Saturday, he deserves a significant role in the backfield this season. Williams finished with 51 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. He once again put his great mix of speed and power on display that will fit this new offensive very well. Williams continues to make the backfield rotation an interesting one, especially with Michael Carter’s last spring injury.
CB Patrice Rene
Rene is coming off of a fantastic finish to his junior season and kicked off his senior campaign with a nice performance on Saturday. Rene was a problem for the quarterbacks all day and recorded two passes defended, both on deep passes in the end zone. While there is a battle going on opposite of him at corner, Rene looks like he will be a steadying force for the Tar Heel secondary and defense as a whole once again this season.
ILB Alex Nobles
While the linebacking corps as a whole struggled on Saturday, Nobles had a phenomenal day for himself. Nobles finished with 5 total tackles, 3.0 of which were for a loss and added a sack. With the Heels depth at linebacker being as scarce as it is, the Heels were needing someone unexpected to step up and Nobles did that on Saturday. With the Heels track record of turning walk-on players into keep players at the college level under the Fedora regime, could Nobles continue that trend under Brown?