North Carolina will have to replace two productive seniors in their wide receiver corps. Sam Aiken, who had 68 catches for 990 yards as a senior (both single-season UNC records), will be a difficult player to replace in the passing game. Chesley Borders, North Carolina's second leading receiver in 2002, had five touchdown grabs and 12 catches for 499 yards.
Head coach John Bunting was asked who might step up to fill those very large shoes. "The guy that stands out right now is Jarwarski Pollock. Derrele (Mitchell) has done some nice things. (Danny) Rumley has done some good things, particularly with some of the possession routes, the hook routes, some of the shorter routes, and some of the medium routes."
Pollock is an exciting player and is the leading receiver returning from last season with 31 receptions for 464 yards and four touchdowns. His greatest asset may be his quickness.
North Carolina quarterback Darian Durant believes that UNC fans will be pleasantly surprised with Danny Rumley. "I think Danny Rumley has really stepped up," Durant said. "Last year he was the kind of guy who was unheard of. But, he's really come onto the scene this spring and has been able to make a lot of plays. He's using his size to his advantage. With him and Derrele Mitchell out there being big targets, I think that's really going to help us." Rumley is 6-4, 215, while Derrele Mitchell is listed at 6-3, 205.
Coach Bunting also likes Rumley's size. "He's not necessarily a deep ball guy, but he is big. He's strong, and he can be a big target." Tar Heel fans may draw some comparisons to former N.C. State tight end, Willie Wright when watching Rumley.
The Tar Heels are searching for a deep threat this spring, and one player who has gotten a look is red-shirt frosh Daunte Fields. "(Fields) has the ability to run fast and he has the ability to get open and get deep. But, he can also catch the ball in a crowd. I've seen him catch the ball in a crowd, which is really good," Bunting said.
North Carolina does not lack for bodies at the wide receiver spot. Michael Gilmore, Wallace Wright, Brandon Russell, Ian Firestone, and Lance Williams provide wide receiver coach Gunter Brewer with a lot of choices there. In addition, safety Chris Curry has moved over to the wide receiver spot this spring.
North Carolina fans will see tight Bobby Blizzard more involved in the offense. Blizzard was the fourth leading receiver on the team last year with 28 catches for 440 yards, and tied Chesley Borders for the most touchdown receptions with five. John Dunn, 6-5, 256, a walk-on tight end has also had a few catches this spring.
Though the Tar Heels have focused a lot of energy on the running game this spring, they haven't neglected the passing game. Replacing Sam Aiken's 68 catches is a tall order, and two tall players, Mitchell and Rumley, may be called upon to fill that order.