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Heel Tough Blog: Spring Camp Standouts

Last Saturday was the close to spring camp for the Tar Heels as they hosted the #TyleeStrong Spring Game in Kenan Stadium. This was a spring camp defined by a lot of question marks that needed to be answered, which was complicated a bit on the defensive side of the football by injuries. While all of those questions may not have been answered, head coach Mack Brown said that he liked what he saw from the team in camp, especially the mindset which he mentioned was much different than it was a year ago. With the spring officially in the book, here is a look at the players that helped themselves in the past month.

UNC Athletics

Noah Taylor

The grad transfer from Virginia may very well have been the best player in camp for the Tar Heels. He earned three “King of Production” Award from defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and was one of the players that Brown pointed to as one of the new leaders that are emerging. There was some concern about how he would fare in the Gene Chizik defense after transferring in when Jay Bateman was still in place. However, he has reportedly thrived at the JACK end position and looks well on his way to a starting job. He may have had a quiet game last Saturday, but there is no denying that Taylor will be a major part of this Tar Heel defense in a multitude of ways in 2022.

UNC Athletics

Myles Murphy

Murphy was named the “King of Production” for the entirety of spring camp earlier this week for what was clearly a productive spring for him. He was one of the guys that we thought could benefit the most from the change of defensive system and that seems to be the case. Murphy close his spring with a strong performance in the spring game last Saturday and he looks poised to take that next step this season for a Tar Heel defensive line unit that simply needs more consistency overall.

UNC Athletics

Des Evans

The junior pass rusher has yet to break into a consistent role in his first two seasons on campus, but this spring may have been the start of the push towards earning that full time starting role at one of the defensive end spots. Evans’ name started getting mentioned more and more as the spring went along and he closed out the spring with a strong showing last Saturday, where he had two sacks. This is a system that seems to be fitting Evans a little better than the prior one did and hopefully he can continue to show that into the fall for a team that needs to develop some consistent pass rushers.

UNC Athletics

Dontavius Nash

Nash was given the opportunity to take over the first team reps at boundary safety with all of the injuries at the position and capitalized on it. Brown instilled confidence in the press conference prior to the start of camp and that turned to praise once camp started. He took home the “King of Production” Award for the fifth practice of the spring, but was consistently one of the players that was mentioned when talking about the defense. Unfortunately, he went down with an injury early on in last Saturday’s game and played only a handful of snaps, but he should get a chance to earn a starting role in the fall even with the guys who will return from injury.

Jim Hawkins- Inside Carolina

Corey Gaynor

Gaynor is another transfer who arrived early and has settled in nicely. Anytime that the offensive line was mentioned in press conferences, Brown seemed to be saying something positive about his performance and the leadership that he is already bringing to a team that needs it. He looked really good last Saturday, as well, getting some great push out of his center position, something that is desperately needed after struggles from that position last season. Gaynor was brought in to help stabilize an offensive line group that was a real issue for the team a year ago.

UNC Athletics

Bryson Nesbit

Nesbit was one of the names that people were excited about heading into camp about and he lived up to that. With the lack of depth that the Tar Heels had at receiver during camp, the staff used him in a variety of different ways and he appeared to thrive in whatever role they put him in. He only caught two passes last Saturday but looked really good running routes and finding space for himself after starting at outside receiver opposite of Antoine Green. If he can continue his emergence in the fall, that could be huge for a Tar Heel offense that is still in search of consistent weapons outside of Josh Downs.

UNC Athletics

Sebastian Cheeks

We talked a lot about the linebacking corps possibly being the deepest unit on this 2022 team and the unit showed that in the spring. Brown was extremely complimentary of the unit’s starters and backups and Cheeks was the one who may have had the best spring. He was talked about a few times throughout the month, but really shined in the spring game, leading all linebackers in tackles and showing some nice ability to get pressure on the quarterback. With Cedric Gray and Power Echols ahead of him on the depth chart, he likely won’t be earning a starting job in the fall, but he could certainly push for rotational reps early on.

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Looking forward to CAROLINA TARHEELS basketball and football season

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