Tim Brewster’s departure from the Tar Heels staff last Thursday caught everyone in the Tar Heel football community off guard. In his one year back at Carolina, he had already helped piece together the best recruiting class since 2011 and get the Tar Heels off to a great start on the recruiting trail in 2021. His exit left behind a sizable hole on the Tar Heel coaching staff, but it appears the team has found their replacement.
As first reported by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, the Tar Heels are expected to hire former Cleveland Browns tight end coach John Lilly. In his one season on Freddie Kitchens staff in Cleveland, the Browns tight ends caught 39 passes on 66 targets for 470 yards and nine touchdowns, a number that likely was affected by the fact that David Njoku played just four games all season due to injury. The group was still able to help pave the way for Nick Chubb, who ran for nearly 1,500 yards this past season. Prior to his short stint with the Browns, Lilly was the tight ends coach for the Tennessee Volunteers for one season. In that one season, the Volunteers tight ends caught just 23 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, but helped the Volunteers run for 1,579 yards and 14 touchdowns. Previous stops prior to his arrival in Knoxville included a short stint with the Los Angeles Rams and lengthy, well thought after stints at Florida State (1998-2007) and Georgia (2008-15) where he not only helped coach a strong group of tight ends, but also was a strong recruiter at both school, including in his role as the recruiting coordinator in his entire stint at Florida State as position coach. Amongst the names that he helped recruit are guys like Preston Parker, Jacob Park, Lamont Gillard, Terry Godwin and Roquan Smith.
Under Brewster this past season, the Tar Heel tight ends failed to have a tight end reach the ten catch or 100 yard receiving mark. Garrett Walston looks like the best option at tight end and Lilly has a connection to Walston that makes it even more likely. Walston was committed to Lilly and the Bulldogs before eventually switching his commitment to Carolina. The Tar Heels will also return Kamari Morales and welcome in three freshman in the 2020 season, including two, John Copenhaver and Kendall Karr, that will enroll early.
Tar Heel fans were hoping for an exciting hire to replace Brewster and boy did they get it. This is about as good of a replacement as they could have hoped for and continues to keep this football program moving in a positive direction.