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Heel Tough Blog: Carolina Football All-Decade Team

Tonight is the turn of the decade, as when the ball drops tonight at midnight it will begin the 2020’s. With that, now is the perfect time to look back at the decade that was for this North Carolina Tar Heels football program. The perfect way to that is to give you our all-decade first, second and third teams with in-depth looks at our first team selections at each position. Here is your Heel Tough Blog Tar Heel Football All-Decade team.

Grant Halverson- Getty Images

QB: Marquise Williams (2012-15)

While talent levels will be debated, there is no debate that Williams is the decade best quarterback. Williams threw for 7,926 yards and 61 touchdowns, while throwing just 25 interceptions. Williams combined that success through the air with 2,458 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, becoming the only Tar Heel quarterback to go over 10,000 yards of total offense in program history. He was named second team All-ACC in each of his final two seasons, the final of which he led the Tar Heels to their first 11 win season since 1997.

2nd Team: Sam Howell (2019-Present)

3rd Team: Mitch Trubisky (2013-16)

RB: Giovani Bernard (2010-12), Elijah Hood (2014-16)

These two running backs are clearly above anyone else from this era after great careers in Chapel Hill. Bernard was only active for two seasons and both of those saw him total over 1,500 yards of total offense and double-digit touchdowns. Bernard finished his two seasons with 2,481 rushing yards, 852 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns. Hood wasn’t nearly as dynamic as Bernard, but posted back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 yards, including his phenomenal 2015 season where he finished with 1,463 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, the second-most rushing yards and the third-most rushing touchdowns in program history. Hood finished his career with 2,580 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in his career.

2nd Team: T.J. Logan (2013-16), Michael Carter (2017-Present)

3rd Team: Romar Morris (2011-15), Javonte Williams (2018-Present)

WR: X- Quinshad Davis (2012-15), Z- Dwight Jones (2009-11), SL- Ryan Switzer (2013-16)

This was the easiest group of selections, as these three are three of the programs best to ever catch the football. Switzer is the programs all time leader in receptions and receiving yards, while Davis is the program’s all-time leader in career touchdown receptions. Jones might be the only one people may question, but both of his most productive seasons came in the final two years of his career and the first two years of the decade.

2nd Team: X- Mack Hollins (2013-16), Z- Bug Howard (2013-16), SL- Erik Highsmith (2009-12)

3rd Team: X- Anthony Ratliff-Williams (2015-18), Z- Dyami Brown (2018-Present), SL-Dazz Newsome (2017-Present)

Streeter Lecka- Getty Images

TE: Eric Ebron (2011-13)

Another very easy selection, Ebron had a phenomenal three year run in Chapel Hill. Ebron had the fourth most receiving yards of anyone in the decade for the Tar Heels and set school records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a tight end, a mark that was later broken by the third team member on this list.

2nd Team: Jack Tabb (2011-14)

3rd Team: Brandon Fritts (2015-2019)

OL: OT- James Hurst (2009-13), OG- Jonathan Cooper (2008-12), C- Lucas Crowley (2013-17), OG- Landon Turner (2012-16), OT- Jon Heck (2012-16)

The anchors of this unit are the guards. Cooper was a dominant force in his final three seasons, all of which came in the first three years of the decade. Cooper earned All-ACC second team honors in the first two years of the decade, before closing out his career with unanimous first team All-ACC and All-American honors in 2012. As for Turner, he may not have received quite the same recognition, but he was a force for the Tar Heels on the offensive line in his final two seasons on campus. Turner earned third team All-ACC honors ahead of garnishing first team All-ACC and All-American honors in his final season on campus. As for the tackles, Hurst was a dominant force starting in 2010 when he earned freshman All-American honors and follow that with three straight appearances on All-ACC teams, including back-to-back first team honors to close his career. As for Heck, it was a tough back and forth between him or his brother Charlie, but Jon get the nod with the recognition he received while at Carolina. He earned All-ACC honors in each of his final two seasons on campus, while starting 50 career games as part of the Tar Heel offensive line. Crowley was the toughest decision of the list, but he gets the nod over Russell Bodine slightly. Crowley started 41 games at Carolina and closed out his Tar Heel career with third team and second team All-ACC honors, respectively.

2nd Team: OT- Charlie Heck (2015-19), OG- Caleb Peterson (2012-16), C- Russell Bodine (2011-13), OG- Travis Bond (2009-13), OT- Bentley Spain (2013-17)

3rd Team: OT- Brennan Williams (2009-13), OG- Nick Polino (2015-19), C- Cam Holland (2007-12), OG- R.J. Prince (2013-17), OT- William Sweet (2015-18)

DL: DE- Quinton Coples (2008-11), DT- Sylvester Williams (2011-12), DT- Aaron Crawford (2015-19), DE- Kareem Martin (2010-13)

The decade may not have been the most dominant for a university that has a legitimate case to be named DLU, but this is still a very deserving group of players. Coples had the most dominant career of the group and his most dominant seasons came at the start of the decade, both season that he earned first team All-ACC honors. Martin was also a no-brainer here, especially with his monster senior season that saw him finish with 21.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks and earn first team All-ACC honors. Williams may have only been on campus for two seasons, but he's definitely earned a spot here with his play, as he finished with 20.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in his two seasons, while also earning first team All-ACC praise as a senior. The debate between Crawford and Jones was a tough one, but I went with Crawford because of just how dominant of a run defender he was. In his final season on campus, he graded out as the best interior run defender in the nation, but was still only rewarded with an honorable mention for the All-ACC teams. Crawford finished his career with 128 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.

2nd Team: DE- Malik Carney (2014-18), DT- Nazair Jones (2013-16), DT- Jason Strowbridge (2015-19), DE- Norkethius Otis (2011-14)

3rd Team: DE- Mikey Bart (2013-16), DT- Justin Thomason (2012-15), DT- Ethan Farmer (2010-14), DE- Donte Paige-Moss (2009-11)

LB: Kevin Reddick (2009-12), Cole Holcomb (2014-18), Jeff Schoettmer (2012-15)

When I did the offseason series back in July and August of this year, it was an egregious era for me to leave the player that was arguably the best linebacker of the decade off. While Reddick’s career did begin in the late 2000’s, his final three seasons, the best of his career took place in the early 2010’s and make him a worthy candidate to be on the All-Decade team. His senior season alone should be enough to qualify him, as he finished with 85 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks and earn a much deserved first team All-ACC honor. Holcomb was another shoe-in, as he was the best pure volume tackler of the decade. The one time walk-on led the Tar Heels in total tackles in each of his final three seasons on campus, racking up 327 total tackles in his career. He earned second team All-ACC honors as a senior, something that was well deserved after no recognition the previous two years. The final member of the first team was a tough debate, but we lean with Schoettmer. While Schoettmer never led the team in tackles, he was a consistent player in the middle of the Tar Heels defense for three seasons on his way to 279 total tackles and 19.0 tackles for loss. Schoettmeer was also a weapon in coverage as a former defensive back, as he hauled in four interceptions, two of which he took back for touchdowns.

2nd Team: Zach Brown (2008-11), Andre Smith (2015-17), Shakeel Rashard (2012-15)

3rd Team: Cayson Collins (2014-17), Travis Hughes (2011-14), Chazz Surratt (2016-Present)

DB: CB- M.J. Stewart (2014-17), S- Tre Boston (2010-13), S- Donnie Miles (2013-17), CB- Tim Scott (2011-14)

The defensive back unit was one that took a lot of debating back and forth, but we settled on four great players. Boston was a sure thing to be on this list after a phenomenal career that took place all in the 2010’s. Boston finished with at least 70 total tackles and three interceptions in each of his final three seasons and earned honorable mention and second team All-ACC honors in his final two seasons respectively. Another no doubter was Stewart, who was a lockdown corner in his time at Carolina. He finished his Tar Heel career with 199 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions and 41 pass deflections. Stewart earned second team All-ACC honors as a sophomore before closing with an honorable mention in each of his final two seasons in Chapel Hill. The other two selections weren’t as easy, but after a lot of back and forth, I went with Scott and Miles. Scott got the lean over Des Lawrence because of his four year impact, as he finished with at least 40 total tackles in all four seasons he was on campus. Scott finished his team with 218 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, eight interceptions and 16 pass deflections. He somehow only earned All-ACC honors once and that was an honorable mention as a sophomore. Miles gets the nod over some other very talented safety with just how dominant of an in-the-box safety he was in his four year stint. He may have earned All-ACC honors just once, but he had consecutive seasons with over 100 total tackles including leading the team in 2015 with 128. He finished his four year career with 320 total tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss.

2nd Team: CB- Desmond Lawrence (2013-16), S- Sam Smiley (2011-15), S- Dominique Green (2013-16), CB- Jabari Price (2010-13)

3rd Team: CB- Charles Brown (2007-11), S- Myles Dorn (2016-19), S- Da’Norris Searcy (2007-10), CB- Patrice Rene (2016-Present)

ST: PK- Casey Barth (2008-12), P- Tommy Hibbard (2012-14), DS- Tommy Bancroft (2015-18), H- Joey Mangili (2012-16), KR- T.J. Logan (2013-16), PR- Ryan Switzer (2013-16)

The special teams had some interesting battles and some interesting names topping it. Barth career began with two great seasons to close the 2000’s and followed it up with a great finish to his career to begin the 2010’s. He finished with second team All-ACC honors in his final season in 2012. Although he didn’t see as much action in the decade as Nick Weiler, his efficiency gives him the edge here. Hibbard got the nod over Tom Sheldon at punter with his consistency, averaging 40.0 or more yards per punt in each of his final three seasons, including 43.0 in back-to-back season in 2012 and 2013. He was named a second team All-ACC in 2012, but somehow that was it. T.J. Logan was part of a dominant return unit for the Tar Heels in the mid-2010’s. Logan returned 77 kicks in his Tar Heel career for a 27.2 yard average and took five for touchdowns. While Logan might seem like the biggest locks on this lists, the distinction is all Switzer’s, who tied the single season NCAA record for punt return touchdowns in his first season on campus, earning first All-American honors as a returner. Switzer returned 99 punts for an average of 10.9 yards per return and seven touchdowns, the fourth most in NCAA history. At long snapper, I went with Tommy Bancroft as he handled punting long snapping duties all four years he was on campus. At holder, we’ll go with Joey Mangili, who handled the holding duties during the 2015 run.

2nd Team: PK- Nick Weiler (2012-16), P- Tom Sheldon (2016-17), DS- Kyle Murphy (2015-18), H- Hunter Lent (2015-18), KR- Anthony Ratliff-Williams (2015-18), PR- Giovani Bernard (2010-12)

3rd Team: PK- Freeman Jones (2014-18) P- Hunter Lent (2015-18), DS- Conor Fry (2012-14), H- Trase Jones (2007-11), KR- T.J. Thorpe (2011-14), PR- Dazz Newsome (2017-Present)

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