UNC Football Coundown to Kickoff: Receivers Preview


AUTHOR’S NOTE: To catch up on on our first two installments of Countdown to Kickoff check out what was put together for:

The Quarterbacks and The Running Backs

Our next installment of the 2015 UNC Tar Heels Countdown to Kickoff Series takes us to the Wide Receivers. Much like the running backs, the receivers have an opportunity to be a very deep, talented and dynamic phase of the Tar Heel offense. The receivers come off a year where production was spread throughout the corps. We saw some new names (Mack Hollins) show elite big-play making ability as well as some old mainstays (Quinshad Davis and Bug Howard) continue to produce at an effective rate. Few people remember how deep this group was servicing Marquise Williams, with 4 receivers possessing 40+ catches for 450+ yards each. Assuming the production increases and the big yardage plays come from more than just Mack Hollins, this group has the ability to be one of the best in the ACC.


The flanker is also referred to as the Z receiver. The Flanker generally lines up behind the line of scrimmage, out wide, in this base offense. It’s often said the flanker is the team’s feature receiver and that he will use extra distance between the LOS and the defender to avoid getting “jammed” by the defender.

Oct 25, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Mack Hollins (13) catches the ball en route to a touchdown as Virginia Cavaliers safety Quin Blanding (3) and safety Anthony Harris (8) defend in the second quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

FL 1 Mack Hollins (#13) 6-4 210 lbs Redshirt Junior

The breakout star of the receiving corps for Carolina in 2014 is poised for a monster junior campaign. The former walk on bailed Carolina out in several of games this past year, often catching balls that were underthrown, plus providing big plays that often swung the momentum of the Tar Heels’ favor. Hollins’ combination of size and speed should give cornerbacks fits.

FL 2a Josh Cabrera (#18) 6-3 205 lbs Redshirt Frosh

A tough, big bodied athlete who has yet to see action in Chapel Hill. Coaches like his big play making ability and hope there is not much of a learning curve as the unexperienced Cabrera gets thrown into the early mix.

FL 2b Devin Perry (#85) 6-2 195lbs Redshirt Frosh

Like Josh Cabrera, Devin Perry has yet to play a down in Chapel Hill. Perry was also a track star in high school and possesses elite speed. Fedora and Co. will want to get this kid in space.

The Flanker position at Carolina as you can see is very top heavy. The Tar Heels have an All-ACC caliber Flanker who’s backed up by a couple of kids who haven’t played a down in college. The verdict is out on who steps up when Hollins has to take a breather.

Split End

The Split End generally lines up opposite of the Flanker and is often referred to as the “X” receiver. We’ll usually see the Split End line up opposite of the Tight End and serve as the seventh required player in a stance on the Line Of Scrimmage.

SE 1 Quinshad Davis (#14) 6-4 210 lbs Senior

Nov 15, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Quinshad Davis (14) with the ball in the third quarter. The Tar Heels defeated the Panthers 40-35 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A starter since setting foot on campus, Quinshad Davis is currently recovering from the surgery he had to repair a broken right tibia he suffered in the Quick Lane Bowl. The hope is this guy returns to his All-ACC caliber form following surgery. If Davis has a decent year, he’ll shatter the UNC record books for receivers.

SE 2 Jonathan “Bug” Howard (#84) 6-5 210 lbs Junior

Bug Howard is poised for a breakout year. Coaches have wowed about his talent and his offseason performances for over two years now and it’s time that Howard take a major step forward in 2015 after stepping a touch back in 2014. Look for Howard to be one of this offenses most targeted receivers in 2015 as Fedora and the offensive coaching staff seek to use this kid’s freakish athletic ability.

SE 3 Juvall Mollette (#5) 6-4 205 lbs True Frosh

Mollette comes to Carolina as a heralded receiver from outside of Greensboro. His unique combination of size, speed and sure hands helps him fit perfectly as a Split End. Mollette could see the field early if Quinshad Davis struggles with his recently repaired leg early on.

Split End has the opportunity be the deepest position in the wide receiver group if Quinshad Davis can return to form. Between he and the upside of Howard, the receiver lining up  on this side of the line of scrimmage should be in good shape for 2015.

A Back (Slot Receiver)

More from ACC News

The A Back is one of the most complex positions in the Fedora Spread Offense. The A Back must be versatile enough to play receiver but also be tough enough to run the occasional jet sweep in between the tackles. A receiver built like a running back is what you’ll usually find at A Back. You will watch Offensive Coordinator Littrell design players that try to put the A Back in space.

Ryan Switzer (#3) 5-10 185 lbs Junior

Ryan Switzer burst onto the scene in 2013 with a NCAA leading 5 TDs punt return touchdowns. Switzer showed great improvement in the receiving category bumping his stats to over 1092 all-purpose yards in 2014. I do have a knock on the player I saw in 2014. Switzer let his punt returning tendencies get too involved into his every down play. There were times when Switzer looked like he was simply trying to do too much. I’d often watch Switzer give up ground to try to break the huge play when he should have simply just barreled forward and fought for the extra yard or two. If Switzer gets back to the grind the way he battled in his Freshman year, he should be looking at a very promising year 3.

Nov 1, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Ryan Switzer (3) is tackled by Miami Hurricanes defensive back Nantambu-Akil Fentress (28) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Proehl (#7) 5-10 175 lbs Sophomore

Proehl did a fine job of filling in at the A Back when he was called upon mid-way through the season. Look for the son of former NFL receiver, Ricky Proehl, to up hi game in year two as he develops in to a bigger factor within the offense.

The depth of A Back will come down mainly to the health of these two. While it’s very likely we will see TJ Logan and Romar Morris get a few snaps at A Back to lighten the load of Switzer and Proehl, UNC could be a in big trouble if either of those two go down.

Comfort Level with the Wide Receivers: 3.5

My takeaway from studying this year’s group of Wide Receivers gives me comfort that there is all talent, experience, and some depth as a group. However, outside of Split End, A Back and Flankers going into 2015 are one man shows and very volatile positions if either Hollins or Switzer were to go down. It will be imperative that there be a gem in the form of one of these young guys occupying the 2nd or 3rd string squad and give the Carolina offense an extra weapon on the perimeter.

Carolina’s Offensive Line is up next. Until then, Go Heels!