Believe or not, the ACC is still alive (for now) and we sit exactly one week away from the start of the conference’s media days in Charlotte. The Tar Heels will be in town on Thursday along with the rest of the Coastal teams and on Wednesday the team announced the players that they will bring with them.
Each team will bring three student athletes along with their head coach for a second consecutive season after previously only being able to bring one offensive and one defensive player in the years prior. Graduate senior defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek, graduate senior running back British Brooks and junior wide receiver Josh Downs will be the Tar Heel representatives for this year’s event.
Downs will be one of the stars of the event coming off a tremendous sophomore season. He enters 2022 as the conference’s leading returning receiver in terms of receptions and receiving yards after registering 101 catches for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns. Head coach Mack Brown is hoping that moving him around a little bit more this season will prevent teams from being able to bracket him like they did late last season and allow him to take another step forward this season and put himself in the conversation of the top receivers in all of college football.
Vohasek is back for an extra year thanks to the COVID eligibility rules and will be an important part of that Tar Heel defensive line. In 2021, he finished with 38 total tackles, tied for the most on the team amongst defensive linemen, but the team will need both him and Myles Murphy to take a leap again this season and help the defense to get more push up front. It will be very interesting to hear his perspective on the change in defensive coordinators and how the team can sort through all the talent they have along the defensive line.
Brooks getting the chance to attend is special considering how much he is valued by the team and staff. Brown has talked at length about how important his leadership has been for the team over the past few years and it is why he has been a team captain for each of the last two seasons and will likely be one again this season. The difference this year will be the fact that he will also enter the season as a major offensive contributor. He finished the season with 285 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the final three games of the season and will come into the season as the starter at running back after utilizing his extra year of eligibility.
The overall experience of this year’s media days likely won’t be as fun as in past years with the cloud of realignment threatening the future of the conference moving forward. Hopefully realignment won’t be the focus for the players when they eventually get to the podium on Thursday afternoon.