It’s finally here. Fall camp is set to begin tomorrow morning in Chapel Hill as the Tar Heels begin preparing for a 2020 season that is set to be one of the most unique in recent memory. As we get prepared to dive into an extremely important fall camp, we give you a look at some of the biggest headlines around this Tar Heels football team. Here are our top storylines to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks.
New Leaders Must Emerge on the Defensive Line
Jason Strowbridge and Aaron Crawford have left behind big shoes to fill production and leadership wise, leaving a lot of question marks up front defensively this season. The staff has oozed confidence in this unit, though, throughout the offseason and fall camp will be a chance to find those new starters and leaders. Raymond Vohasek and Jahlil Taylor look to be the favorites to step up as the new leaders of this inexperienced unit, but now they must prove it. Meanwhile, the other 4i-tech defensive end spot opposite Vohasek will see one of the best position battles of the fall with a group that will involve Tomari Fox and two winter workout standout, Kristian Varner and Kevin Hester Jr., slugging it out to earn reps.
Tony Grimes Looks to Impress
The reclassified true freshman enters what will be the most loaded group on this Tar Heel team in 2020. With a ton of experience back from a year ago, there will be a lot of veteran presences and young talents to navigate for him to find an early role. Holding Grimes off the field won’t be easy, however, as the former 5✮ prospect has all of the skills and raw talent necessary to play a role for this team right away. What type of showing will he have in fall camp and with all of the talent around him, how much of a role will he be playing this year. Those are some big questions that we’ll begin finding the answers to on Thursday morning.
Establishing Depth is Extremely Important, Especially This Season
One of the main things that Mack Brown has talked about since returning to North Carolina is building the depth necessary to compete at a high level. This year, more than any, establishing reliable depth will be extremely important for the success of teams all around college football including in Chapel Hill. With less practice and conditioning this offseason and COVID-19 still a threat throughout the United States, every player on the roster must be prepared in case their name is called upon this season due to injuries or illnesses in front of them on the depth chart. For the most part, especially offensively, this team looks to be in good shape and have capable depth that could help if needed, but the defensive staff will have some work to do on the defensive line and at linebacker, where there could be a drop off if starters were to go down. It will be interesting to see how much rotation there will be in practice and if non-starters throughout the roster can step up during camp.
Which Freshmen Can Earn Roles?
When the Tar Heels take the field on Thursday, that will be the first time since arriving to campus that the true freshmen will take the field for camp or practice. We’ve already mentioned one of the freshmen who will be looking to make an impression, but he’s not the only one who will have a short time to prove himself and earn reps this season. Kedrick Bingley-Jones looked like he was going to have a solid chance to factor in this fall in the race for reps on the defensive line, but unfortunately a lower-body injury from back in the fall will keep him out for the entirety of fall camp and maybe longer. Guys like Ja’Qurious Conely and Cameron Roseman-Sinclair will attempt to show the staff that they can digest the defensive scheme well and potentially factor in at a safety spot where the Tar Heels are searching for a new starter, while Jonathan Adorno, Trey Zimmerman and Cayden Baker will look to do the same on the offensive line, where things got a little more complicated today with the loss of Triston Miller for the season. Many Tar Heel fans were excited to see what Josh Downs would be able to do in the slot, especially after he early enrolled, but he’ll have limited time to try and beat out the veterans in front of him. All of these will have the chance to make an impression on the staff, but they’ll have to do so quickly in what is now a one month sprint to the start of the 2020 season.