UNC Football: Positional Preview: Offensive Linemen

Nov 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Ty Chandler (19) runs behind the blocking of offensive lineman Asim Richards (72) against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Ty Chandler (19) runs behind the blocking of offensive lineman Asim Richards (72) against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the most important groups in the UNC football program and the target of many fans frustration last year is the subject of today’s positional preview. 

On Saturday, the UNC football program will face their first test of the season when they take on Florida A&M. All eyes will be on players returning from injury, new players, transfers, and of course new members of the coaching staff.

It is not likely that every question will be answered in that game, but we should begin to get a feel of which players are favored to be the starting unit.

In order to look at the offensive line, it is worth a quick look back at what went wrong in 2021. There were more than a few issues for the offensive line and many had former starting quarterback Sam Howell on the run for large portions of the game. Some players were injured and others simply regressed from their previous year’s performance. Let’s put that in the rearview mirror and look ahead to what we can expect.

What We Know

What do we know about this year’s offensive line? Not much honestly. Let’s just start at the top.

Former offensive line coach Stacy Searels is out and Jack Bicknell Jr is in. Searels departed to join the Georgia Bulldogs staff. Bicknell Jr arrives from Louisville where he filled the same role. There is some familiarity with offensive coordinator Phil Longo from their time at Ole Miss for two seasons.

We also know that the Tar Heels lost left guard Joshua Ezeudu, right tackle Jordan Tucker and right guard Marcus McKethan. Additionally, Quiron Johnson made the decision to medically retire from football. McKethan and Ezeudu were both drafted by the New York Giants, while Tucker signed a UDFA deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That leaves both question marks and playing opportunities for this year’s team. So let’s dive in.

The Key Players

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson enters his sixth season with the North Carolina football program, making him the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster.

Anderson will compete for the starting position at center, but will certainly be impactful for the Tar Heels regardless.

Over his four seasons on the field, he has appeared in 39 games and recorded over 1,900 snaps.

For an offensive line that lost three starters to the NFL, Anderson is a seasoned veteran who can anchor the line and help develop the younger guys within the position group.

Ed Montilus

After being inserted into the starting lineup during the 2019 season, Montilus has been a constant along the Tar Heels’ offensive line.

Entering his redshirt senior season, the Apopka, Florida native will be the starter at left guard.

Over three seasons, Montilus has seen action in 37 games and blocked for an offense in 2021 that ranked 10th in the country in total yards per game with 468.2.

Expect the veteran to play a big role in the blocking game for the Tar Heels, as they look to improve from last season.

William Barnes

A former four-star recruit and No. 5 offensive tackle in the country, William Barnes is now primed to take over at the right guard spot in his senior season.

Barnes has appeared in 36 games with the Tar Heels, blocking for a 2021 North Carolina offense that averaged 35.2 points per game.

While primarily playing right guard, it is also possible that he sees time at right tackle.

Growing pains will follow the UNC offensive line early in the season, but Barnes will be a key part in the trenches for the Tar Heels throughout.

Asim Richards

Asim Richards will once again assume the starting duties on the offensive line, playing at left tackle for the 2022 season.

Richards started all 13 games in 2021, playing a season-high 81 snaps in the Tar Heels’ win over No. 10 Wake Forest.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native has tallied over 1,500 snaps over the last two seasons and is poised to be a big piece for the North Carolina offense.


Zach Rice

The five-star recruit enters his freshman season as the No. 9 overall recruit and No. 1 offensive tackle in the class of 2022. Rice is the second highest commit all-time for the Tar Heels with Marvin Austin taking the No. 1 spot.

His arrival in Chapel Hill brings forth lofty expectations, as the highlights the No. 11 recruiting class for Mack Brown and company.

Rice, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, is bigger than all four linemen we previously highlighted and has a chance to contribute right away.

The Lynchburg, Virginia native was an early enrollee in January and certainly should see action in Saturday’s season opener.

Corey Gaynor

After a five-year career at Miami, Corey Gaynor joins the Tar Heels, bringing invaluable experience to the offensive line.

As Gaynor heads to Chapel Hill from a Coastal division rival, he brings with him 27 starts and 31 games of experience.

After starting the first three games of the 2021 season for the Hurricanes, he suffered a season-ending injury, allowing him an extra season in 2022.

Gaynor will battle for the starting center spot with fellow veteran Brian Anderson.

Expect both graduate students to see time against Florida A&M and for Gaynor to contribute throughout the season.

Spencer Rolland

Spencer Rolland is the second offensive line transfer for the Tar Heels, heading to Chapel Hill following a four-year career at Harvard.

The former Ivy Leaguer earned First Team All-Ivy League honors in 2021 as part of the second-best offense in the conference.

Despite being with the Crimson for four years, Rolland has only recorded two seasons of action.

He did not see the field during his true freshman season and Ivy League athletics were shut down in the fall of 2020.

Rolland will see time at right tackle and hope to improve the North Carolina offensive line.

Trevyon Green

A three-star recruit, Treyvon Green was an early enrollee and has made a positive impression during his limited time in Chapel Hill.

Green was listed on the North Carolina depth chart and is expected to make his collegiate debut


Although North Carolina lost three offensive linemen to the NFL, they bring back and add experience. Aside from Zach Rice and Trevyon Green, their offensive line is full of returners and guys who have experience.

For the Tar Heels to succeed, the offensive line needs to improve and the veterans will need to make a big impact. With two quarterbacks who have minimal college experience, giving them time in the back and support up front is crucial to their improvement.

With a plethora of returners and the addition of Rice and two seasoned veterans, the offensive line has the tools to be successful and change the narrative from the 2021 season.

Depth Chart

Left Tackle

STARTER: Asim Richards
BACKUP: Trevyon Green

Left Guard

STARTER: Ed Montilus
BACKUP: Cayden Baker


STARTER: Corey Gaynor OR Brian Anderson

Right Guard

STARTER: William Barnes

BACKUP: Jonathan Adorno

Right Tackle

STARTER: Spencer Rolland

BACKUP: Zach Rice

Next. Jeremiah Gemmel finds new NFL home. dark

Follow us @KeepingItHeel on Twitter and like our fan page on Facebook for continued coverage of UNC football recruiting news, views, and updates.