Injuries Piling Up

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters prior to Thursday afternoon's practice, touching on injuries, Kendric Burney's return and former quarterback Mike Paulus.

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** An unofficial count of Tar Heels not available at the end of the Miami game on Saturday was thought to be 23 – 14 injured, nine held out involvement in the NCAA investigation – but Davis half-joked with reporters on Thursday that the number was sitting at 27.

Eight Tar Heels didn't make the trip last weekend to South Florida due to injury, and linebacker Quan Sturdivant was on the wrong end of a gametime decision due to a lingering hamstring issue. During the game, cornerback Mywan Jackson (groin), safety Da'Norris Searcy (concussion), fullback Anthony Elzy (shoulder) and H-back Ryan Taylor all left the game with injuries and didn't return. Running back Johnny White also sat out the second half with an injury bug.

Davis was unable to provide much of an injury update before the official report is released Thursday evening.

"Some of them obviously are going to be decisions after today's practice," Davis said. "We'll know after judging how fast they can move around, how quick [they are]. Every day is a little bit of, okay, push them as far as you can without trying to set them back and then see how they respond the next day. Do they have any adverse effect? Do they have any swelling? Was there any pain? And if not, then you up the tempo."

Davis indicated that the staff would need to see the injured players play near or at full speed on Thursday in order for them to take the field 48 hours later.

"Some of them will be gametime decisions and some of them we'll have a pretty good idea after today's practice," Davis said.

One player that has been medically cleared to play is Searcy, who suffered a mild concussion against the Hurricanes.

"There was some debate as to whether or not Da'Norris maybe could have gone in in the second half," Davis said. "Maybe 10 years ago you might have made that decision, but you can't do that anymore with the things that we've learned about [concussions]."

Weakside linebacker Quan Sturdivant has been a gametime decision with his hamstring playing the culprit for several weeks in a row now, but the fourth-year head coach said the Oakboro, N.C. native has shown improvement all the while.

"He's gotten better [each week] and he's gotten better every practice this week," Davis said.

** Davis was asked if he expected resolution on fullback Devon Ramsay and defensive end Michael McAdoo – the final two players waiting to learn their fate with regard to the NCAA investigation – before the end of the season. His response: "Yes, I do."

Both players are currently practicing with the scout team.

** Davis told reporters that senior cornerback Kendric Burney will start on Saturday against William & Mary after missing the first seven games of the season.

Prior to finding out that Burney had been cleared to play during practice on Tuesday, the All-ACC cornerback had seen minimal participation during team drills. Since the news broke, Burney has received approximately 50 percent of the work in all of the periods.

During his radio show on Wednesday night, Davis relayed the story of how he broke the news to Burney the day before:

"We didn't find out about Kendric until about 4:30 on Tuesday. It was the middle of practice and I guess someone from the compliance department had called Corey Holliday on his cell phone. We're clearly halfway through practice and he comes walking out about halfway, which is unusual, because if Corey comes out on the field, it's like, ‘Hmm, what's going on now?' So Corey comes up and he gives me a thumbs up. I walk over and he says, ‘We just got the call that Kendric had been cleared and is allowed to participate and he's allowed to play.'

"So I go over to the defensive field to where Kendric is. He's sitting on the sidelines and he's watching practice, and I said, ‘Kendric, come here for just a second.' And I tried to keep a straight face and I said, ‘Kendric, I'm really sorry.' And he looked at me and he wasn't exactly sure what I was going to say, and I said, ‘The NCAA cleared you.' And he was so preoccupied with my face that he didn't even understand what I was saying.

"So I told my wife last night and she said, ‘How dare you treat him like that?' She was mad. So I apologized to Kendric [on Wednesday] and I said, ‘I didn't mean to do that to you.' But we had a good laugh about it."

** With more than 30 scholarship offers on the table, including Southern California, Alabama and LSU, Mike Paulus committed to John Bunting's staff at North Carolina on Apr. 28, 2006. The Syracuse, N.Y. native earned his first start at Miami following T.J. Yates's ankle injury the week before against Virginia Tech in '08, but Cam Sexton was more productive off the bench and claimed the quarterback job until Yates was able to return.

Another year as Yates's backup prompted Paulus to transfer out of the program.

"The quarterback position is a dicey position because only one kid gets a chance to play," Davis said. "With T.J. Yates earning the starting job and Mike being near the same grade level, it was a business decision on his part to try to find a place where he could transfer and where he could get an opportunity to play immediately and not sit there for four years behind someone. Mike is a good kid and he's a good quarterback, and he's played extremely well for Williams & Mary this year."

Paulus (64-of-107 passing, 674 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) stepped in when starting Tribe quarterback Mike Callahan went down with a shoulder injury against Maine and rallied his squad to a come-from-behind victory with a touchdown pass in the final minute. He directed William & Mary to two more victories before Callahan returned in the second half of last week's victory over Delaware.

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