The Tar Heels are just a few days away from the start of 2021 spring ball for the Tar Heels which will set the stage for one of the most highly anticipated seasons in program history. To get you ready, we set the stage with a look at the players to keep an eye on during spring ball. Here are the five names you need to know heading in.
The Tar Heels have the tough task of replacing both Michael Carter and Javonte Williams after they combined for one of the best seasons for a running back tandem in program history and Chandler will be the guy that will lead that charge. The transfer from Tennessee ran for over 2,000 yards in his Volunteer career and will now look to close his career in an offense that should be able to showcase his abilities a little bit better than the offenses in Knoxville did. This will be a great chance to learn just how good of a fit he will be in this offense and what his role will look like, at least early in the season.
The Tar Heels have plenty of young depth that will be battling for reps along the defensive line in the spring, but Bingley-Jones might be the most intriguing. Last winter, prior to the cancellation of spring camp, the staff raved about his performance in the weight room and it felt like he would be the true freshman that would have the biggest impact in the fall. However, a lower leg suffered in the spring left him out for the season, putting the start of his Carolina career on hold. With him fully healthy now, all eyes will be on the highly-touted redshirt freshman, who will be looking to earn a spot in the rotation on the interior of that defensive line, an area where the team was able to build some surprising solid depth as the season went along last year. With his talent and fit in the defensive front, though, it would be a shock if Bingley-Jones didn’t push to appear in the fall two-deep in the next few weeks.
Speaking of young players who will be looking to make a good first impression on the defensive side of the football, Dillworth will definitely have a lot of attention on him after his choice to early enroll. His skill set fits exactly the types of players that thrived in Bateman’s system at Army and with Chazz Surratt’s departure, there will be some reps available at linebacker. With Dillworth’s coverage ability, at the least, he should be able to earn some significant reps on third down, but he has the talent to overtake one of the two projected starters in Jeremiah Gemmel and Eugene Asante if they do slip up.
Chapman played the second most snaps of any of the defensive backs this past season, but he was really picked apart in coverage throughout the majority of the season and struggled to provide help in the run game late in the season after making his presence felt there early in the year. While there is nothing concrete to say that he is fighting for his starting job, the numbers are there to suggest that the Tar Heels should not shy away from an upgrade at the position if one presents itself. Chapman will have a chance to keep his job, but this feels like it could be a big spring for him with some of the young players that could be lurking behind him at the position.
Running back isn’t the only position where the Tar Heels have to replace a lot of production on the offensive side of the ball. The wide receiving corps has a lot to replace as well, but with guys like Downs in place, there is reason to be confident that this unit will still be one of the most productive on the team. Coming off of his big Orange Bowl performance and plenty of recognition last preseason, Downs appears to be the favorite to take over as Sam Howell’s go-to threat. This spring will be a great opportunity for the second year wide receiver to establish a stronger repertoire with Howell and become someone that helps lead this Tar Heel offense to another successful season campaign in one that will carry loftier expectations.