During his weekly press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mack Brown released an important piece of player news that affects the 2020 and 2021 teams. Brown announced that junior offensive guard Billy Ross has told the staff that he will sit out the 2020 season and will enter the transfer once he graduates from the school later this school year.
In his three years with the Tar Heels, Ross played in 20 games for the teams, including eleven starts. All eleven of those starts came in the 2018 season, as he started every game for the team at right guard, finishing the season with 39 total knockdowns. In 2019, Ross was beat out for the starting guard spots by Marcus McKethan and Ed Montilus, dropping his snaps from 586 in 2018 to just 98. Although his role decreased heavily, Ross stepped up when needed, playing 56 snaps in the game against Appalachian State when Charlie Heck missed the game and Ed Montilus had to come off the field, as well. Ross was a solid veteran depth piece that the Tar Heels will now have to replace.
This is a blow to an offensive line that is not looking nearly as deep as we once thought it could be. Brown said in his press conference on Wednesday that as of right now, he feels that he has six guys on the offensive line that he would feel comfortable with playing right now. That has to create some uneasiness, especially considering that Brown has said that he wants to have at least eight that he feels comfortable with, preferably ten. Redshirt freshman Ty Murray has missed some time recently due to injury and his return would likely make the group seven strong, but there are others that need to get healthy or step their game up to help provide depth for the Tar Heels are need of it, especially in a 2020 season where having capable depth is just so important.
The name that you would like to see step up with Ross’s departure is sophomore William Barnes. One of the headliners of the Tar Heels’ 2018 recruiting class is still looking to breakout after playing just 47 snaps in his first two seasons on campus with the Tar Heels. With Ross gone, it would be huge if Barnes could become a solid, reliable backup, the role that Ross held a year ago. Using Anderson or Murray at guard sometime this season might not be out of the question now, especially if Jonathan Adorno or Wyatt Tunall, both of whom have been rumored to be taking snaps at center can prove worthy of backing up the starter.