2021 UNC Football Positional Preview: Offensive Line

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 26: Teammates Jordan Tucker #74 and Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 20-17 at Kenan Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 26: Teammates Jordan Tucker #74 and Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 20-17 at Kenan Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Keeping It Heel positional previews for the UNC football program continue, as we take a look at the team’s offensive line depth heading into the 2021 season.

QB | RB | WR | TE 

Quarterback Sam Howell will have a new-look set of skill players to work with for the 2021 season. Fortunately for the Heisman Trophy contender, he’ll have a very familiar looking offensive line to help protect him throughout the process.

The UNC football program is set to return its entire starting line for the upcoming season. Along with having all five starters from a season ago back in the mix, the Tar Heels have also developed additional depth that has made this an area of strength.

This unit got some great experience throughout the 2020 season, as they anchored the Tar Heels offense that was one of the best in all of college football. Howell had a career year with a very talented wide receiver corp, and running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter greatly benefitted from the great play from the guys up front.

What should we expect from this group during this upcoming season? Let’s take a look at our offensive lineman preview for the 2021 regular season.

What We Know

Protecting Howell will be among the top priorities for Mack Brown and the UNC football program this season. Along with protecting the current face of the program, the offensive line will be called upon to help guide the way towards a successful running game.

Not only does this group now have some key experience, but they have some depth to work with as well. As offensive coordinator Phil Longo and offensive line coach Stacy Searels work to fine-tune the starters, they are also working diligently to develop additional depth to have at their disposal.

Spring practices were important for this group, as they not only gained reps but had the chance to compete and show the coaching staff that they can be trusted in game settings. According to Inside Carolina, one of their sources said that the Tar Heels staff has eight or nine offensive lineman that they trust. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be that much drop between the first and second units.

"“During the spring, UNC put the second-team offensive line out there and there wasn’t a big drop off. They can run the offense… Those guys know it. They can function. That has been a big boost.”"

Depth is very important, because you never know what could happen during a given season. Players could miss time due to injuries or other circumstances, which makes programs have to shuffle between guys up front. For the Tar Heels, it definitely is reassuring to know that they have a handful of guys who are ready to be called upon on game day.

The Key Players

Asim Richards

After protecting Howell’s blindside for the 2020 season, Richards is expected to return as the team’s starting left tackle for the upcoming campaign. With a full season of experience under his belt, it’s expected that the rising junior will make some positive strides in his second year at the position.

Joshua Ezeudu

Ezeudu is one of, if not the, most talented lineman that the Tar Heels have on their roster. His versatility allows him not only to be the starter at left guard, but to also serve as the team’s backup at both tackle positions.

However, Ezeudu missed all of spring camp due to injury. His health will be a story to keep an eye on as the season approaches.

Brian Anderson

Anderson has emerged as a leader for not only the offensive line, but for the Tar Heels football program as a whole. The senior center has developed into a communicator for the offensive unit, and should serve as a value asset for Howell this season.

During the team’s spring game, Anderson did not participate, as he was attending his brother’s wedding. Based on reports from the game, you could tell that his presence was missed, which shows even more how valuable he’ll be during his senior campaign.

Marcus McKethan”

"“Marcus McKethan was consistent and had as good a spring as anyone.”"

According to Inside Carolina, McKethan was arguably the most impressive UNC football offensive lineman during the team’s spring sessions.

Entering his third season as the team’s starting right guard, McKethan seems poised to be a focal point of the Tar Heels offensive line. After an impressive spring camp showing, the Tar Heels hope that the senior’s improvement carries into the regular season and beyond.

Jordan Tucker

Tucker returns as the team’s right tackle, and is also another player who will be entering his third season among the team’s starting unit.

The Tar Heels offensive line features three seniors on the right side, which is valuable given the chemistry aspect of the position. Like his fellow lineman, Tucker will look to be even better in 2021, as he’ll be called upon to once again be an anchor on the right side of the line.


This unit certainly has depth, and their play will be crucial in how the team fares overall in 2021. Their should be some goals in mind for the offensive lineman this season, such as staying healthy, continuing to build chemistry as well as fine-tuning the areas that may need improvement.

Overall, this group has the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the country. Not many teams possess as much experience and depth among the guys up front, which could be a major advantage for the Tar Heels as they work through their ACC schedule.

Howell has a bunch of new skill players to work with, but the guys protecting him remain the same. They may not get the recognition they deserve, but this group will have a major say in how the season goes for the UNC football program.

Depth Chart

Left Tackle
Asim Richards
Joshua Ezeudu
Cayden Baker

Left Guard
Joshua Ezeudu
Ed Montilus
Jonathan Adorno

Brian Anderson
Quiron Johnson
Chance Carroll

Right Guard
Marcus McKethan
William Barnes
Jonathan Adorno

Right Tackle
Jordan Tucker
Joshua Ezeudu
Diego Pounds

Trey Zimmerman
Wisdom Asaboro
Malik McGowan
Wyatt Tunall
A.J. Beatty
Eli Sutton

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