Beautiful weather and sunny spring skies can only mean one thing- its time for the UNC Spring Football game! North Carolina’s Spring game takes place this Saturday, and to get you ready, Keeping It Heel will have a position by position preview. Check back all week for more previews of other positions and of the game! Today we continue with the wide receivers and tight ends.
Who is coming back?
UNC returns 89% of their receiving touchdowns and just under 70 percent of their receiving yards from last season. A huge chunk of those catches came from Eric Ebron’s team leading 976 yards. Replacing Ebron will be UNC’s toughest task for the 2014 season, and that burden falls on Ryan Switzer, Quinshad Davis and the rest of UNC’s crop of young receivers. Davis is probably the best of the bunch and is a candidate for All-ACC honors next fall. Switzer made his impact last season as a punt returner and looks to add the same sort of spark to UNC’s offense with his pass catching skills. And Bug Howard leads the “field,” or the great depth of unproven options UNC has. Anyone from the group of Bug Howard, TJ Thorpe, Sean Tapley and Jack Tabb could break out with five or more touchdown receptions next season.
Who is new?
The Tar Heels have some talented redshirt freshman and true freshman coming in this spring, especially some talented options at tight end. Avery Edwards, Brandon Fritts and Devin Perry are a couple of the names at wide receiver and tight end that UNC has recruited. Also watch for some redshirt freshman like Jordan Fieulleteau to make some plays in the Spring game.
What areas should be improved this spring?
In Larry Fedora’s first two years, UNC hasn’t had a true vertical threat to make big plays downfield. The last true vertical threat was Jheranie Boyd, who graduated in 2012 after promising freshman and sophomore campaigns and disappointing junior and senior seasons. While UNC’s offense is focused on quick passes like bubble screens, I want to see UNC develop a deep ball threat this spring to keep safeties off the line of scrimmage and on their toes next fall.
Who wins the positional battle?
The positional battle at wide receiver and tight end comes down to who will be replacing Eric Ebron next fall. The leader in the tight end race is Jack Tabb, who offers better blocking skills than Ebron but isn’t nearly the talent or athlete that Ebron was. Senior Eric Albright also could vie for playing time at tight end.
What number in particular should I be looking for on Saturday?
Number 84: Bug Howard
Howard caught four touchdowns and 278 yards last season and was fourth highest on the team in receiving yards. He is probably UNC’s best replacement for Ebron’s pass catching production. A couple more pounds on his wiry 6-4 frame would do him a lot of good. I’m looking for number 84 in the Spring game to see what big plays he can come up with and what improvements he made this offseason to his game.