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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heel Running Back to Sit Out the Remainder of 2023 Season

Jim Dedmon- USA Today Sports

After a week off from the media, Mack Brown set the tone for the Tar Heels return to the field on Saturday at home against Syracuse. While he did talk a lot about that matchup, he had to start the day by talking about a key special teams member that will sit out the remainder of the season.

Brown revealed that sophomore running back/wide receiver George Pettaway will sit out the rest of the 2023 season and begin preparing for next season. Pettaway, who was the team’s starting kick returner in the first four games of the season, registered his first two returns of the season last weekend in Pittsburgh for 34 yards. That’s a far cry from the 31.6 yards per return that he averaged when he took over the role late last year. Offensively, he played just two snaps despite the staff splitting his time in fall camp between the backfield and the slot in an attempt to get him more reps.

Brown says that Pettaway will now focus on being ready for spring ball next year which he will use to determine what his future will look like. The team will lose British Brooks after the season but outside of that, everyone is expected to return in the backfield. The team isn’t expected to lose anyone in the slot, either, so he will still have a lot of work to do to climb the depth chart.

For this year, this does take away a threat in that kick return game, albeit, one that hadn’t produced the way we expected they would. With him out, nickel corner D.J. Jones, who has handled the role at times the last two years and has been the team’s second returner the last two games of this year will likely take over the role. The staff will also likely open the competition up in practice to see if anyone can emerge like Pettaway did last year.


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