As we sit just five days away from the start of the Tar Heels 2019 season, the program has given us the first unofficial depth. In the first season under a new staff, there will be some surprise starters and potential impact players that will take the field. Here are our official takeaways from Monday’s unofficial depth chart release.
Movement on the Offensive Line Continues
The Tar Heels have making moves constantly on the offensive line this offseason, primarily at the center and right guard spots. Monday revealed yet another change at those two positions. Nick Polino, who was back at right guard during training camp, will slide back to center, while redshirt freshman Marcus McKethan will start at right guard. This is the third different combination that the Tar Heels have used at those two positions this fall, but the wonder has to be why there has been so much movement. The consistency of the offensive line as a whole has been up-and-down throughout this offseason, but right guard is definitely the Tar Heels biggest concern as they head into the opener against a very talented South Carolina defensive line.
Raymond Vohasek Listed as a Starter
The JUCO defensive end, in a surprising twist, was named the starter at one of the 4i-tech defensive end spots on Monday. The DuPage College transfer hasn’t been talked about a lot during training camp, but he has the experience and size that clearly paid off. The question, though, is how much will Vohasek actually be on the field. The Tar Heels are will still be in plenty of nickel and dime defensive packages this season and will want to have senior pass rusher Tomon Fox on the field somewhere. One would imagine that one of the defensive end spots will be his in that situation, meaning Vohasek is the most likely guy to be rotated out rather than standout Jason Strowbridge. Still, it is a huge positive to see Vohasek and his backup Tomari Fox’s names on the initial depth chart. The Heels are building some impressive depth on the defensive line for this 2019 season.
Chazz Surratt Wins Starting Inside Linebacker Job...Kinda
From the starting quarterback for the 2017 season to the starting linebacker for the 2019 season, it has sure been a strange journey for the former record-setting high school quarterback. As Pat James of Go Heels expressed to us in our interview with him for the Heel Tough Blog Podcast, Surratt was named the starting inside linebacker for the game against South Carolina on Monday. As defensive coordinator Jay Bateman expressed in his press conference later Monday, that is in large part is due to senior Dominique Ross being suspended for the first half of the season opener, meaning that Surratt, barring injury, likely won’t start another game at linebacker this season. Even if that is true, Surratt is still going to be a significant part of this Tar Heel linebacking corps in 2019 and winning the starting job after switching position just prior to fall is downright impressive.
Antoine Green Will Start After His Brutal Ankle Injury
We knew Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown were going to start for the Tar Heels in 2019, but we have to say we are pleasantly surprised by Antonie Green land a starting spot on the outside opposite of Brown. Green suffered a gruesome ankle injury in last year's game against Syracuse and missed all of spring camp as he continued to recover. Despite the odds, Green put together a strong fall camp and will now have the opportunity to start the game against South Carolina. Junior Beau Corrales is shocking listed in a battle with for a rotational spot with true freshman fall enrollee Khafre Brown, although we believe that says more about Khafre Brown than about Corrales.
Javonte Williams and Michael Carter Battling for First Team Reps; Antonio Williams is RB3
This is probably the least shocking headline so far because of just how well Javonte Williams has played since the minute he stepped on campus running backs will see carries at some point this season, but this depth chart shows that both Javonte Williams and Carter are ahead of Antonio Williams. All three help the Tar Heels form one of the best backfields in the ACC this season.
Depth in the Defensive Backfield is a Concern
This is something that we had heard from the staff back in the fall, but Monday’s depth chart release really put it into context. With Patrice Rene out for the first half against South Carolina due to suspension, the Tar Heels will have just six scholarship corners active for the first half. Beyond the season opener, there has to be concerns in nickel and dime packages, as DeAndre Hollins may not be as ready to play a significant role as once thought. The starter at nickel, D.J. Ford, is listed as the backup strong safety, but will be the backup option at both safety spots behind two injury prone starters. If he has to move one of those safety spots, that leaves Hollins or Trey Morrison to battle for the job. The problem is, Morrison is already slated to start at the outside corner spot opposite of Patrice Rene. The Tar Heels 2019 secondary has plenty of talent with it’s scheduled five starters. If injuries set in, though, this unit could be in trouble.
Vincent Amendola Will Be QB3
The No. 3 quarterback position quickly became a big concern on Thursday night after it was announced that Cade Fortin would enter the transfer portal to pursue a starting job elsewhere. Although it wasn’t officially released with the unofficial depth chart, Mack Brown made the announcement during Monday’s press conference that Amendola has beat out fellow walk-on true freshman Donovan Brewington for the emergency quarterback job. If the Tar Heels were to have injury problems at quarterback, though, one would venture to guess they would move Chazz Surratt back to quarterback until one of the two could return.
Michael Carter Will Return Kicks
One of the few things the Tar Heels want to carry over from the Larry Fedora tenure is the success that he had in the return game. Dazz Newsome, as expected, will handle the punt return responsibilities, while in a bit of a shocking twist, Michael Carter will handle the kick return duties left behind by Anthony Ratliff-Williams. Carter is one of the Tar Heels best offensive playmakers and it’s never a bad idea to have a dynamic running back returning the football. As for the rest of the special teams unit, there are no real shocks, as Noah Ruggles and Ben Kiernan will handle kicking and punting duties, while Drew Little and Trevor Collins will split long snapping duties between punting and kicking, respectively.
This is the Healthiest Tar Heel Roster to Begin the Season in a While
For the first time in years, the Tar Heels will begin the season opener without a major starter out due to injury. After back-to-back seasons with major injury issues ravaging the roster, it is a relief that the Tar Heels are finally healthy for a season opener, especially on the defensive side of the football.