In Friday afternoon’s press conference, Mack Brown talked about everything from the new air raid offense to his wife Sally wanting to wake up to a sunrise in Bahamas and see the sun set in Hawaii. The biggest takeaway from the press conferences, though, was the news that several players will miss spring camp for various reasons and that others who are returning from injury will be limited.
The defensive side of the football will the hardest hit area of the team by Friday’s news. Among the official list released by GoHeels.com writer Lee Pace, the Heels will be without two starter from a year ago, with Jason Strowbridge, who was expected to be a starter at one of the defensive end positions in the Tar Heels new defensive scheme, out due to injury, and starting inside linebacker Jonathan Smith away from the team due to an academic issue. Add in the fact that Allen Cater, who was expected to be a guy that challenged for a starting job at defensive end or outside linebacker, and Tyrone Hopper, who was expected to do the same, will also miss all of spring camp rehabbing from injury and there is reason for concern, especially along the defensive line.
WIth both Strowbridge and Cater on the shelf, expect players like sophomores Jake Lawler and Xach Gill, both of whom moved back and forth between defensive end and tackle at the high school level, to possibly see some snaps here, as well, as redshirt freshman Avery Jones, who, as Mack Brown told us on Friday, will take reps along the offensive and defensive lines throughout spring.
Smith’s loss likely means that sophomore Jeremiah Gemmel will see more snaps, but this does open the door for guys like redshirt freshman Kyle Wright in the spring and true freshman Eugene Asante in the fall. Redshirt freshman Matthew Flint is also worth mentioning, although he may be penciled in to see reps at outside linebacker where he is expected to challenge for a starting job. Sophomore walk-on Austin Dowler will also miss spring practice due to an injury, meaning the Heels will be thin depth-wise at linebacker in spring practice, where they now need to fill four starting spots instead of three.
The secondary will also have it’s question marks in spring camp, with both Myles Dorn and Myles Wolfolk be limited to non-contact due to injuries. That likely means a heightened role for junior D.J. Ford and redshirt freshman Javon Terry and some early reps for true freshman Khadry Jackson. Former nickelbacks Trey Morrison and Bryson Richardson will be searching for roles in the new 3-4 scheme and may also be considered more strongly after today’s news.
The offensive side of the football will have just one player that will miss the entirety of spring practice in true freshman offensive tackle Wyatt Tunall, but redshirt freshman wide receiver Antoine Green will be limited as he recovers from a broken ankle. Redshirt freshman running back Devon Lawrence will make a position change of his own, as Mack Brown says due to the lack of depth at wide receiver, Lawrence has moved to the slot for the spring.
Spring camp for the Tar Heels will open up this Saturday at the new indoor practice facility and conclude with the spring game on April 13th in Kenan Stadium. Make sure you subscribe to the Heel Tough Blog website and follow Anthony Pagnotta on Twitter at @FutureTarHeel to make sure you don’t miss any of the major storylines that may come out of spring camp for the Tar Heels.