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Heel Tough Blog: Weekly Storylines- January 6th

Ross Martin- Inside Carolina

Brian Hess Named Strength and Conditioning Coach

The Heels officially announced the addition of Brian Hess to the staff via Wednesday afternoon. Hess will take over the strength and conditioning role for the Heels, a position that has had some issues over the last couple of seasons.

Hess will take the same journey that Jay Bateman took from West Point to Chapel Hill as Hess was a part of the Army staff for each of the last three seasons, a stretch in which Army won 29 games, the best three game stretch in program history. Army was able to avoid major injury issues over those three seasons despite running the rough-on-the-body triple-option while having to play with a body style that must meet a certain military standard. While at Army, Hess worked with Bateman to formulate a defensive unit that allowed an average of 19.3 points per game and 310.3 yards of total offense.

Prior to his time working with Bateman at Army, Hess was the head strength and conditioning coach with Sam Houston State during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Hess worked with current Tar Heel offensive coordinator Phil Longo in both of those seasons to build an offense that was one of the best in all levels of college football. The familiarity with both coordinators is a huge advantage of his hire.

Preventing injuries may be the most important task for Hess, something that has killed the Heels over the last two seasons. The injury issues in 2017 were as chronicled as any that season as the Heels finished the season with an astounding 22 players on the season ending injury list. While 2018 wasn’t quite as injury ridden, the Heels were still without 13 scholarship players in the season finale due to injury. That trend has to change, especially on the defensive side of the football where the depth isn’t quite where you would like it to be.

Kelly Presnell- Arizona Daily Star

Staff Continues to Remain In Flux

The Heels looked to have their staff set at one point on Saturday when Wake Forest offensive assistant and former Arizona linebackers coach Scott Boone to coach special teams and help with the defensive side of the football. However, the Heels are now searching for their second offensive line coach this offseason, as Brandon Jones, who left Texas Tech for Chapel Hill earlier this offseason, left to join Dana Holgerson’s Houston staff. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman is reporting that former Miami offensive line coach Stacey Searels will likely get a look from Coach Mack Brown, considering he was a part of Brown’s staff for each of the Brown’s last three seasons in Austin.

In other staff news, Robert Gillespie will officially be retained as the Heels running backs coach, while tight ends coach Chad Scott has not been retained. Scott has since taken at job with Scott Satterfield at Louisville as their running backs coach.

Danny Parker- 247sports

Brant Lawless To Officially Join the Heels in the Spring

This a storyline that has been developing since August. Lawless, who transferred to Carolina after leaving Tennessee in July, will enter spring camp with the Heels as a true freshman, but will count towards the 2018 recruiting class. Lawless will bring with him a 300-pound frame and the ability to clog the middle while still having some pass rushing ability, something the Heels have struggled to find in recent years. Lawless will also help ease some of the concern around the lack of depth at defensive tackle, where the Heels return just five scholarship players from a year ago. Here’s the link to the story on Lawless from back in August if you are wondering more about the situation.

UNC Athletic Communications

Cole Holcomb Heading to East-West Shrine Bowl

Holcomb received the invite on Saturday and should have a chance to make fan impact for an East roster that is not particularly loaded at the linebacker position. The game will take place next Saturday, January 19th, with a week of practice prior to that. This will be a chance for Holcomb to catch the attention of scouts and move himself up draft boards, as he currently is absent from most major ones. Holcomb, a former walk-on, finished his Carolina career with 327 total tackles and led the team in total tackles each of the last two seasons.

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