Hurst Planning to Return

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Lost in the discussion about the future of redshirt sophomore running back Gio Bernard was the plan for offensive tackle James Hurst. On Tuesday, the junior put an end to any speculation.

Fellow offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper, Travis Bond and Brennan Williams, all seniors, are expected to be on NFL rosters next fall. In particular, Cooper and Williams are expected to go in the first half of the NFL Draft this April.

Hurst is projected as high as a second round selection due to his combination of size, speed and technical skills.

"I plan on coming back," Hurst told following practice on Tuesday. "After this season, looking at everything, it's not what I wanted to have for my last college football season, so I was planning on coming back and getting better next year."

The pre-season All-ACC tackle anchors the left side of one of the best offensive lines in the country. The Tar Heels rank 14th in the country in sacks allowed (11) and the line has paved the way for Bernard's dynamic season. North Carolina averages 194.27 rushing yards per game, good for 37th in the nation.

Hurst will join current sophomore and starting center Russell Bodine as the only returning starters along the offensive line. Redshirt freshman Landon Turner started the previous three games following a season ending injury to Williams against Duke on Oct. 20.

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