UNC Football Positional Previews: Wide Receivers


The North Carolina Tar Heels football season kicks off on August 30th against the Liberty Flames at home in Kenan Stadium. To get you ready for the nationally ranked Tar Heel’s first game, Keeping It Heel will have an extensive football preview series previewing all of Carolina’s positions, games and reviewing 2013′s games. Check back to Keeping It Heel every afternoon for new preview posts. Today, let’s preview UNC Football’s wide receivers.

Departure: Sean Tapley

Tapley graduated from North Carolina in May, and decided to transfer to James Madison University to play football. It’s the second big transfer the school had this off-season as Ohio State’s Jamal Marcus transferred as well. Tapley is eligible to play because his transfer was down a division to the Football Championship Subdivision.

Returning/Arrivals: Quinshad Davis, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, T.J. Thorpe

The Tar Heels return some key players on offense with experience, which should help either Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky as reliable targets. Last season junior Quinshad Davis led the team with 10 touchdowns while hauling in 48 passes. Davis was able to take advantage of teams focusing on Eric Ebron who departed for the NFL Draft. Now Davis will have to step up and lead the Tar Heels receiving core.

While Davis is ready for his role in the offense, others are looking for theirs as well. Playmaker Ryan Switzer will look to see his role increased on the offensive end after being a named to the preseason ACC team as a specialist. It will be interesting to see Switzer’s role in the offense this season.

Outside of Davis and Switzer the Tar Heels wide receiving depth gets thin and a little unproven. Sophomore Bug Howard and junior T.J. Thorpe are expected to be next on the depth chart. The two combined to catch 46 passes for 545 yards and six touchdowns.

Thorpe is looking to take the next step with the Tar Heels and can be a valuable weapon for whoever wins the quarterback battle. Thorpe showed some signs of maturity last season which can go a long way this upcoming season in finding his role with the offense.

Who to watch for

Bug Howard is entering his sophomore season with the Tar Heels and the 6-foot-4 receiver is ready to show the rest of the country what he can do. Howard arguably has some of the best hands in college football and gives the Tar Heels a big red zone threat.

Howard made some impressive receptions last season and really came on strong for the Tar Heels. He finished with four touchdowns on the season and would surely like to see that number increase this season. He also adds another dimension to the Tar Heels receiving core and will take the focus off of Davis.

Howard’s hands and the ability to stretch the field really help make the Tar Heels passing game an explosive one. It’s certainly an offense that has potential to put up some points.

Balance is needed

Every good team has a balanced offensive attack. For the Tar Heels, it could mean the difference between a successful season and a disaster.

Carolina will need to be balanced on the offensive side of the ball this year and is leaning on the receiving core to help fill that need. With talent at the quarterback and running back positions, it’s up the receivers to complete the puzzle.

They won’t find success just relying on a running game, so in steps the Carolina receivers.

If the Tar Heels can establish a threat with the receivers this year, it could go a long way for them. With a quarterback battle leading up to the opening game establishing some rhythm and  balance in the offense should be the major key for the Tar Heels.