Mack Brown highlights UNC Football Training Camp standouts

Sep 11, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Power Echols (23) reacts after intercepting the ball in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Power Echols (23) reacts after intercepting the ball in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

What players have stood out to UNC football head coach Mack Brown the most thus far through the team’s early part of training camp?

Training camp is a great opportunity for student-athletes to impress their respective coaching staff.

With the goal of earning playing time come opening kickoff, players across the country have been putting in the necessary work to prepare for the upcoming season. This is no different in Chapel Hill, as there have been quite a few standout performers for the UNC football program early on in the team’s annual training camp.

While talking to the media earlier in the week, head coach Mack Brown was asked to discuss a few players that not only impressed him during the team’s scrimmage on Saturday but when he reviewed the game footage during film sessions.

Brown was more than ready to answer the question, as he highlighted quite a few players from both sides of the ball. Here’s what the Tar Heels head coach had to say (courtesy of Inside Carolina)

Freshman Running Backs

"“I would say the two freshmen backs (George Pettaway and Omarion Hampton). They were explosive on Saturday. And I was surprised that they look that good that early. But both of them jumped out. Omarion made a couple of runs. He bounced out real fast…. the flares and the speed plays that George Pettaway can make. The power plays that Omarion can make, I mean 220 pounds and runs a 4.4, gets downhill. He’s low. So those two for sure. Andre Greene would be the other one.”"

Pass Rushers

"“You’d have to think Noah Taylor. He has made plays and Des Evans is rushing the passer better. Kaimon Rucker has come on. Rucker has done a good job rushing the passer. Jahvaree Ritzie is so quick. He’s playing power end and inside. And he’s just so quick, it’s hard to block.”"


"“Power Echols is a machine. And then he just loves to play. He’s a little undersized, but he plays all over the field, every play.”"

Young Defensive Backs

"“We’ve been impressed with Marcus Allen, the young corner from Walton (High School) in Atlanta. He’s older. His dad was a captain of the basketball team at West Point. His mom is a Columbia graduate. And he looks like he’s older. He is out there just playing. And Will Hardy. His dad is a high school coach and a very successful one. So both those guys have played older than they are when they first got here.”"

Offensive Line

"“Corey Gaynor has brought confidence and experience and toughness to that offensive line. We think Spencer Rolland will be a good player. He’s having to adjust to a faster pass rush than he’s used to. Yeah, they’re faster. But he’s getting better with what we do.”"

It’s a good sign to see the freshman running backs making some noise in training camp, as early signs seem to point towards both players having a role with the team’s offense early on in the season. With veteran British Brooks in the mix, it would be a huge boost for Phil Longo’s offense if one (or both) of these players can contribute at a high level early on.

Regarding the pass rushers, the addition of transfer Noah Taylor should be a huge boost for the Tar Heels. His task will be to get after the quarterback, something he’s done very well over his college career so far.

After playing a significant role as a true freshman, Power Echols is ready to take on an even bigger role this season. He very well might end up being one of the anchors of the defensive unit not only this year but for the rest of his UNC football career.

We all know of Storm Duck and Tony Grimes, but it’s safe to say that North Carolina will need more from their secondary depth to improve on the defensive woes from a season ago. Maybe Allen and/or Hardy carve some type of role in the team’s defensive scheme this season.

For the offensive line, a change could be a good thing. The unit struggled mightily during the 2021 season and will rely on a whole new look to get back on track. Based on Brown’s comments, IVY League transfer Spencer Rolland seems to be transitioning to the Tar Heels style of play, but he’ll be an important piece for this offensive line unit during the 2022 campaign.

These guys mentioned by Brown have stepped up early on in training camp. It will remain to be seen how it will impact their playing time once the season gets underway in a few weeks.

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