We continue our look at the 2021 Tar Heels with a look at the tight ends, a group that looks to be in very solid shape ahead of the upcoming season. Here is a breakdown of a unit that greatly benefited from the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted athletes due to the effect of COVID on the 2020 season.
The ruling allows Garrett Walston to return for his super senior season, a big boost for the Tar Heels offensively. His return is a major boost for a running game that will be led by two backs that, similar to Michael Carter, will thrive most when they can get to the edge. He will be a welcome option for Sam Howell in the passing game, hoping to build on a nice finish to his season a year ago as a receiver. He could very well be counted on early as one of the passing game’s go-to options due to the lack of experience.
Behind him, sophomore Kamari Morales has settled into the backup role. As he showed in the spring game, he too is getting to the point of being able to contribute in areas offensively, something that is important in the Phil Longo system. Walston will handle the majority of the reps, but if he is needed to play a more significant role, Morales looks much more prepared to do so than he was a year ago at this time.
Redshirt freshman John Copenhaver appears as if he’ll be the third tight end for the team entering the fall. He may be the best receiver of the group, but still needs to prove himself as a run blocker before he sees the field. The returns seemed to be pretty positive around him this spring, though, and look to have him solidly at the No. 3 spot on the depth chart.
Fellow redshirt freshman Kendall Karr looked prime to compete with Copenhaver for the No. 3 spot in the spring, but was slowed due to an injury. His goal for the fall has to be to come in and try to reignite that battle, something that may be a bit of a challenge with how well the guys ahead of him performed in the spring.
True freshman Bryson Nesbit, a summer enrollee, will join the group in the fall and could be an interesting factor with his ability to go up and get the football. If he can prove to be a red zone threat, he may have a chance to quickly climb the depth chart, but like both Copenhaver and Karr, he still needs to continue to develop as a run blocker, especially with him having only played football for two years.
Sophomore Will Crowley will be the lone walk-on amongst the group, as he’ll look to challenge for some of those deeper depth chart reps in the fall.
Projected Depth Chart:
#84 Garrett Walston, Sr.
#88 Kamari Morales, So.
#81 John Copenhaver, RFr..
#82 Kendall Karr, RFr.
#18 Bryson Nesbit, Fr.
#80 Will Crowley, So.