UNC Spring Football: Locker Room Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC--UNC football players Darian Durant, Melik Brown, and Ronnie McGill share their thoughts following the Spring Game.

Darian Durant

How was your spring overall?

I had a pretty productive spring. I got myself into better shape. My arm strength is up a little bit, and I feel like I am ready to lead this team.

How did you feel out there, and how do you think you played?

I felt good, but I couldn't get into a rhythm with all the rotation and things like that, but besides the picks, I felt pretty good.

How different is this year from last year when there was a time when you weren't even sure if you were going to be here or not?

This spring I got a chance to be able to bond with the guys from day one. Last year, I pretty much just came in after two weeks of practice and really couldn't get into a rhythm and couldn't really try to direct guys. With me being here from the beginning, I could give my advice on certain things and give input and tell Coach what I think will work in certain situations.

Do you feel much more positive about this fall?

Definitely. We havea tremendous group of guys coming back, and we have a solid freshman class coming in, and I'm ready to go to work.

What are the big goals that you accomplished this spring?

The main thing was to establish a running game, and I think we did that. We've got a good group of backs and they can make plays. The offensive line is coming together as a unit, and that will help us. The main goal was to get the running game back in order, and I think we did a good job of that.

You said that one of the things you learned from being on the sideline last year wearing the head set was to use your backs as pass outlets in the flat. With the newly established running game, the new dimension you learned in using the backs, and then the receivers, do you feel like the offense will be more balanced this year?

Definitely, and the balance will take a lot of pressure off of al 11 of us out there. If the defense can key on you an know that you do one thing well, it's pretty easy to stop. Hopefully, we can be clicking on all cylinders with the running game and passing game and it will open a lot of things up.

I think a lot of fans were surprised at how well the defense did. Were you surprised by that today?

Definitely, because throughout the whole spring, we have pretty much had the edge over them. They came out today fighting and they fought from play one. It was very surprising to us.

Is Cedric Holt somebody who will be a good defender?

Definitely. He's a good reader of formations and he seems to know what kind of a route is coming at a certain time. That's something you can't teach a defensive back. He does that from instinct, and that's what makes him so good.

Have you seen that kind of performance out of Ronnie McGill all spring? Has he looked pretty good?

He has. From the first day we put on pads, he has shown the ability to make cuts and run people over. It's been something that we've been lacking--that big back type in the backfield--so he will be a tremendous help for us.

Melik Brown

Simple physical maturity is one of the obstacles that freshmen have to over come. You and Ronnie McGill seem to have more strength than most freshmen. Does that allow you to contribute early?

I think that's part of it. We are on a weight program. I'm not as strong as I want to be and the coaches want me to be, but I'm strong enough to at least play and make some things happen. I can only get stronger and keep working harder. Ronnie came in pretty strong and he's gettin stronger, so only good things can happen.

Even though you aren't as strong as you will be eventually, you have some physical maturity and strength that a lot of freshmen don't.

That's a big part of it. Most freshmen aren't that strong when they come in, and college is a faster type of game with bigger people, so you have to get accustomed to that. If you come in strong, you have a chance to do well from the beginning.

What is the biggest difference between high school and college? Is is just more physical?

Not at all. There are many more meetings. You have so much team stuff that you have to get into, and that is very different from high school. It's a faster pace where you first have to be here and then there [for differnt team meetings and functions] all at a certain time and you can't be late because this is a business.

How about you game today, was it a good game for you?

I think I had a good game, but I know I made some mistakes, so I'm going to look at the tape as soon as possible and try to correct those things for summer camp and the fall. Overall, I think I did a decent job. I can only get better is the way I look at it. Keep working hard this summer and this fall try to contribute to the team as much as I can.

Ronnie McGill

You look a little big to be a quarterback. Where you always a quarterback?

I played running back in junior high, and my last game we had a running back pass. The varsity coach was at the game, and I threw two touchdowns. Over that summer he worked with me at quarterback, and it was just something he wanted to try. We ran the option, so they wanted an athletic quarterback.

What was your reaction when they asked you to switch?

I didn't have a problem with it because I was wanting to play running back my whole career, but I just went along with it because I thought it would be good for the team.

What sort of things have you now learned by being here since January?

I've learned the speed. The speed is totally different from high school to college. It's unbelievable the way everybody moves around, and I'm glad that I got in here to see how it really feels before getting into the season not knowing and not being able to do well and get a chance to play.

Why you were announced as a UNC signee, a lot of people wondered why they hadn't heard of you before. Why do you think nobody knew about you earlier?

Nobody really knew about me because I played quarterback. Playing quarterback in high school and then switching over to running back is not really good. I didn't really get a chance to put it out there that I was a running back and not a quarterback anymore, so everybody thought I was a quarterback. I guess that's why they didn't take an interest in me.

The story I was told is that once the UNC coaches were interested, your tapes at running back just weren't circulated. Is that how it happened?

I have no idea what they did. I just know that one day there was a Carolina Coach in the office, and he wanted to talk to me.

When was that?

That was in the middle of the season. Coach Powell came down like twice to talk to me.

How much bigger have you gotten since you became a running back?

At quarterback I was 195 so I gained like 10 pounds. But I lost a little fat and gained a lot more muscle.

Since I got here, I've gained about 10 pounds. I weighed 212 today.

What was it like to play in the spring game today? Any butterflies?

I didn't have any butterflies. Normally, I don't get butterflies before the games. Just the thought of me going out there in a college uniform a couple of months after I was just in a high school uniform, that sort of got to me. But the older players were talking to me trying to keep me from getting nervous.

What do you think about your performance?

It was a lot of fun--very competitive. I think that I might have earned the respect of some of the older guys out there.

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