It has been another packed week of storylines for the Tar Heels football again, headlined by two major commitments in the 2021 class. With that, there have been some important storylines that may have slipped under the radar this past week and a half. Here are the ones that you may have missed.
Former Quarterback Danny Talbott Passes Away
One of the first great Tar Heels quarterbacks passed away this past Sunday at the age of 75 after a lengthy nine year battle with cancer. Talbott was a decorated three sport athlete in his high school career at Rocky Mount High School in Rocky Mount, NC prior to arriving at Carolina, starring as the leader of the football, basketball and baseball programs for the then Blackbirds. Talbott continued his career as a three sport athlete at Carolina, seeing his most success on the football field, where he was named the ACC Player of the Year in 1965 and the conference’s overall athlete of the year in 1966. While he posted just a 6-14 record as the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels in his final two seasons, he did lead the Tar Heels to one of the biggest upsets in program history in 1966 when they took down then No. 8 Michigan in the Big House. Talbott is survived by his wife, Myrlene, and son Bryan.
Spring Practice Start Date Announced
Not only was the Tar Heels 2020 schedule set recently, the Tar Heels spring practice schedule was also released last Thursday. The Tar Heels will have fifteen practices, beginning with the opening practice on March 17th and will close it down on April 18th with annual spring game in Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels will have some major work to do finding replacements for Charlie Heck, Aaron Crawford and Jason Strowbridge in the trenches, while Dré Bly and Jay Bateman will watch what should an exciting battle for playing time in the secondary play out.
Tar Heels Land Commitments from Walk-On’s Dante Cacchione and Noah Burnette
The Tar Heels added two preferred walk-on’s for the 2020 season. Dante Cacchione, a wide receiver from Sacred Heart Prep School in Atherton, CA, played two seasons at the varsity level, hauling in 50 career catches for 763 yards and four touchdowns in 23 career games. Just a few days later, Burnette announced his commitment as a preferred walk-on. The athlete spent time at wide receiver, defensive back, place kicker and punter in his four year varsity career. As a receiver, Burnette caught 115 passes for 2,252 yards and 19 touchdowns in 28 career games. On defense, he finished 52 career tackles, four interceptions and eight pass deflections. The position that he will likely play at the next level, though, will be placekicker, where he was a standout at the prep level. Burnette finished his career 94-96 on PAT’s and his 23 of his 30 career field goal attempts, including a career long of 52. Both players will join the team in the fall.
Mack Brown and Julius Peppers to Be Inducted Into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
It was announced on Wednesday that Brown and Peppers will be a part of the state’s prestigious hall of fame in Raleigh. Brown, a current college football hall of famer, is the winningest coach in the school’s history with 76 wins and counting. Brown has a career record of 251-128-1 in his 31 year head coaching career and has participated on the sports biggest stage twice, taking home a national championship in a 2005 upset of USC in the Rose Bowl with the Texas Longhorns. Peppers heads in after a legendary career at all three levels, including a special career at Carolina. In his three year career in Chapel Hill on the gridiron, Peppers finished with 167 total tackles, 53.0 tackles for loss, 30.5 sacks (2nd in Carolina history), 42 quarterback pressures, 5 interceptions and 13 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Peppers earned first All-ACC honors twice, appeared on All-America teams twice, including unanimous first team honors as a junior and even received Heisman votes in that junior season, as well. Peppers was also a key member of the Tar Heels 2000 basketball team as a walk-on, where he provided solid minutes at center for head coach Matt Doherty’s first team. Prior to arriving in Chapel Hill, Peppers had a very strong prep career at Southern Nash High School in Bailey, NC, where he was a standout running back. At the NFL level, Peppers put together what will almost certainly be a hall of fame career in 17 seasons split between the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
Jacolby Criswell Wins Landers Award for 2019
Considered the most prestigious award in the state of Arkansas high school football, Criswell took home the Landers Award on Wednesday afternoon after a phenomenal senior season. One of the Tar Heels thirteen early enrollees in the 2020 class, Criswell threw for 2,869 yards and 27 touchdowns, while tossing just five interceptions in twelve starts in 2019. He added 1,282 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground as he helped lead the Devil Dogs to the 5A state semifinals. Criswell will be participating in spring camp where he will be competing for the backup quarterback job with Jace Ruder.
Former Head Coach Larry Fedora Headed to Baylor as an OC
After spending this past year as an offensive assistant with the Texas Longhorns, former Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora has left to take the offensive coordinator job at Big 12 rival Baylor. Fedora will be a part of new head coach Dave Aranda’s staff that will look to build upon the success that Matt Rhule had in his short time in Waco. Fedora’s offenses were always the strength of his teams in his time on the Tar Heel sidelines, as his teams averaged 33.3 points per game and 439.8 yards of total offense per game in his seven seasons in Chapel Hill. This will be the first offensive coordinator job for Fedora since 2007 when he was calling the offense for Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy, who he will now coach against next year.