The 2013 college football season is quickly approaching, with just under 10 weeks left to go before the first weekend of games get kicked-off. All eyes will be fixated in Columbia, SC when the North Carolina Tar Heels open up their campaign under 2nd year coach Larry Fedora on August 29th against the South Carolina Gamecocks. With the excitement that continues to build in Chapel Hill surrounding this season’s Tar Heel squad, it’s time to talk about one of the ACC’s most exciting, electric, and dynamic play-makers.
6’0″ 195 lb Durham, NC native T.J. Thorpe is entering his third season with the Tar Heels, after suffering a broken foot just days into preseason practice last year, which sidelined him for the entire 2012 campaign. Thorpe had an outstanding freshman season in 2011, setting a school record for kickoff return yards with 960, breaking the record set by Brandon Tate (939 yards) back in 2007. He also had one kickoff return for a touchdown, with his 100 yard scamper against Clemson. Thorpe, who is not known for his pass catching abilities, was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2011 as a return man, leading the conference in kickoff return average (26.7).
Thorpe was expected to be a large part of the offense last season before his injury, playing in the slot receiver position inside of Fedora’s spread offense. This season, Thorpe gets a chance to prove himself to the offense and the Tar Heel faithful when he is utilized in the receiving corps which features the thrilling prospect of being one of the ACC’s most exciting groups with the likes of Quinshad Davis, Sean Tapley, Eric Ebron, as well as Thorpe. There is hardly any doubt that senior quarterback Bryn Renner has a stockpile of weapons at his disposal to lead the Tar Heels down the field this season.
But Thorpe also fills another need. The Tar Heels have a vacancy at the kickoff and punt return positions, after Giovani Bernard entered the NFL draft back in April. Thorpe has got to be the number one choice to fill that void, after his amazing freshman season just two years ago.
Whether it’s returning punts, kick-offs, or receiving passes from Renner, Tar Heel nation will hold their breath every time Thorpe has the ball in his hands. He is one player that the coaches, as well as the opponent know is capable of taking it to the house at a moment’s notice.