'Shock' of Spring Ball

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –- North Carolina head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters prior to Wednesday afternoon's practice, touching on UNC's pro timing day and red-shirt freshman wide receiver Sean Tapley, while defensive end Quinton Coples raved on newcomer Sylvester Williams.

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** The expectation in bringing in a junior college transfer is two-fold – (1) to provide depth; and (2) to challenge for a starting spot. Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, North Carolina's lone JuCo enrollee in January, has met both goals in becoming the talk of camp.

"I think he's been the shock of spring ball," senior defensive lineman Quinton Coples said on Wednesday. "He's come in and we didn't know if he was going to have a slow start or not between the lines. We knew he worked hard in the weight room and in school and things of that nature, but as far as in between the lines, there's a big difference. So we're always hesitant due to the fact that when you come in, it's hard to adjust to the game, but he's definitely stepped up to the challenge and actually has been just as good as the starters."

** Most programs have to hype their pro timing days to get a decent turnout of media members and NFL personnel. That's not the case for North Carolina on the eve of its pro day on Thursday.

The list includes a wide range of pro scouts, general managers and coaches – 94 in all – from all 32 football teams. Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith and Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera are two of the 11 head coaches expected to attend.

The 19 former North Carolina football players that will be working out are defensive tackle Marvin Austin, tight end Ed Barham, cornerback Kendric Burney, linebacker Bruce Carter, tailback Shaun Draughn, defensive lineman Greg Elleby, tailback Anthony Elzy, offensive tackle Mike Ingersoll, wide receiver Greg Little, offensive guard Alan Pelc, tight end Zack Pianalto, defensive end Robert Quinn, safety Da'Norris Searcy, deep snapper Trevor Stuart, linebacker Quan Sturdivant, tight end Ryan Taylor, tailback Johnny White, safety Deunta Williams and quarterback T.J. Yates.

The three names on that list that stand out are Austin, Little and Quinn – the three players ruled indefinitely ineligible by the NCAA last fall after being found to have accepted improper benefits. But while they delivered a black eye to the university, Davis made it clear that forgiveness has to factor in at some point.

"They're kids and they've learned a lesson," Davis said. "They've paid an enormous price. They paid a price that cost them their entire eligibility during their senior year or junior year. They will have learned a huge lesson from that. But after that, you've got to move on. They've been extraordinarily remorseful and they couldn't have apologized more times and they'll continue, I'm sure, to do that in future years. It's an opportunity to move on and turn the page and look forward to the future of this program."

Yates was in good spirits as he chatted with his former teammates in the halls of the Kenan Football Center earlier in the day.

"It should be fun," Yates said with regard to Thursday. "I know all of the guys are coming back in today and have been all week long, so it's good to get to see the guys that you haven't seen in a long time. It should be an exciting day. Hopefully the weather cooperates and hopefully we'll do well for all of the scouts."

Yates traveled to South Florida with Pianalto in early January to begin their regimen for the NFL combine and any specific team workouts, and the ordeal will continue until the draft in late April.

"It's a crazy process," Yates said. "It's very draining. It's something where you're working out all of the time, all day, every day. With the combine and all of the individual workouts, you've got to stay in shape. It's weird because you don't have any school work to do, you just have to get up and take care of business, so it's a different feel from being in college."

Yates recently worked out for the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs and will work out for the Falcons after Thursday's events.

** The opportunity was available this spring for a young wide receiver to make some noise with sophomore Josh Adams sidelined (ANCA Vasculitis) and junior Todd Harrelson focusing on academics and red-shirt freshman Sean Tapley has apparently capitalized on the situation by running with the ones at times in practice, although UNC has done a good job shielding the Jacksonville, Fla. native from the spotlight.

Red-shirt freshmen participating in their first spring camp are not available to the media until August, and Davis refused to heap too much praise on Tapley on Wednesday.

"We're all excited about the fact that he's got really good hands," Davis said. "He appears to have good run after catch. There's a difference between being on the scout team and looking good on the scout team and going full speed against the starting defensive secondary, but we're encouraged. He's practicing hard and he's making some plays, so it's been an encouraging spring."

** Sophomore defensive back Tre Boston has been moved to safety for spring ball to see if that position would be a good fit for the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder. UNC has some flexibility at cornerback now that Charles Brown has returned to the starting lineup opposite Jabari Price.

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