Heel Tough Blog: 2022 Spring Camp Preview- Players to Watch

Spring camp for the Tar Heels 2022 season opens on Tuesday, as the team sits at an important crossroad in Mack Brown’s second tenure in Chapel Hill. Yesterday, we gave you a look at the most intriguing camp battles and today we are getting more player specific. Here is a look at the five players to watch as spring camp gets underway.


Lee Pace- GoHeels

George Pettaway

With the running back rotation being as wide open as it is to start camp, Pettaway will have a great chance to come in as an early enrollee and assume a significant role right away. Brown has raved about what he saw from him in winter workouts and is really encouraged by his speed, something the Tar Heels will welcome into the backfield, especially with the departure of Ty Chandler, who was the big play back this past season. With his versatility that allows him to thrive as an option in the slot, he has a chance to be a nice weapon for this team as a true freshman if he can show out.


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Dontavius Nash

This was one guy that Brown pointed out on Tuesday as someone who will receive more reps this spring due to the injuries and it will be interesting to see what he can do with it. There are a lot of question marks right now on the back end of the defense which desperately needs more consistency and has to be able to limit the big plays. If he can help to limit those explosive plays in the spring and also prove himself as a tackler, he could create a battle to watch for fall camp when Ja’Qurious Conley and Giovanni Biggers return from injury at that boundary safety spot.


@jjjones_5- Twitter

J.J. Jones

The departure of Sam Howell to the NFL means that the Tar Heels will have a new starting quarterback for the first time in three years. With that being the case, the Tar Heels will need more consistent production from the skill positions, especially at the outside receiver spots. Antoine Green had a nice second half to this past season, but the spot opposite of him failed to provide much help last season. One of the guys who got an opportunity late in the season at the spot was Jones, who rotated a lot with Justin Olson late in the season. With Olson expected to be limited at least out of the gate in the spring, Jones will get a shot to prove himself worthy of that starting role.


@CraigHaubert- Twitter

Zach Rice

You could spotlight just about anybody on that offensive, but why not the highest rated offensive line recruit and the highest rated offensive recruit in the modern recruiting era. Brown was very complimentary of Rice following the first practice on Tuesday, one where those in attendance said he spent a lot with the blue team. It’s way too early to make any major projections here, but the fact that he is getting the type of reps that he is early is a good sign for him. With the pure talent and skillset that Rice possesses, it will be interesting to see if he can make a push for a starting role this spring.


Peyton Williams- Getty Images

RaRa Dillworth

The sophomore didn’t see a ton of action outside of special teams and garbage time reps, but he was raved about by the staff and his teammates a year ago. He might very well be the most athletic member of this Tar Heel defense and with the shift in scheme that should allow for more traditional three linebacker looks, there should be more reps for Dillworth in Year 2. It will be interesting to watch, though, how the reps are sorted out between Cedric Gray, Power Echols and Dillworth, though, because of how much the 4-2-5 look will be incorporated.

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