Bonilla Takes in Game Week Practice

Curious to see what a game week practice was like at North Carolina, UNC pledge Ayden Bonilla returned to Chapel Hill.

"I wanted to see how the coaches are at a real practice and to see what the schedule was like," Bonilla said. "And I just wanted to see the coaches to see how they're doing."

After getting out of school on Friday, Bonilla and his father immediately headed for Chapel Hill. They spent the night in area before meeting up with the coaches on Saturday morning.

"I had a lot of fun," Bonilla said. "I just liked how practice was. It's very fast paced and I liked that."

While walking around Chapel Hill on Saturday, Bonilla says he can't help by envision what his life will be like a year from now.

"I'm excited to know that this is going to be my home next year," Bonilla said. "Every time I go, I'm picking stuff out like ‘Wow, I'm going to be walking through there' or ‘I'll be living there.' It's like moving – like when I moved from New York to Georgia and I visited beforehand. "

Bonilla's first visit to UNC was for a spring practice.

"It wasn't that much different, actually," Bonilla said. "Since I went on a Saturday, it was kind of like a walk-through practice. So they weren't full speed. All the drills that Coach [Vic] Koenning did, I saw him do during spring practice.

"But they did a lot of scout team of what South Carolina does, so that was different. Spring practice they didn't do that, obviously."

Bonilla's focus for much of the practice was Koenning, UNC's safeties coach.

"He's a great coach," Bonilla said. "He coaches exactly how I would want to be coached – explaining things and making sure every detail is followed. If [a safety] makes a mistake, he's going to explain it and make sure they don't do it again."

Before heading out to the practice field that morning, Bonilla briefly sat in on a full team meeting and attended an entire safety meeting led by Koenning.

"It wasn't like a full film break down – it was telling them what they were going to do today," Bonilla said. "[Koenning] teaches like a father. He reminds me of another dad to me. The same way my dad acts with me is the same way [Koenning] was acting with his safeties. I like that – that's why I feel like it's like another family."

Bonilla's visit included a bonus. Roy Williams was also observing practice on Saturday.

"I've been a big UNC Tar Heels basketball fan since I was little," Bonilla said. "So meeting him made my day. I got a picture with him. He's grandson's name is Aiden, so he said he won't be able to forget my name. I see him on TV all the time so it was great that I met him."

Bonilla's stay also included a quick consultation with Scott Trulock, UNC's head athletic trainer. Trulock's point of interest was assessing how Bonilla's right knee was recovering from surgery. Bonilla tore the ACL in that knee during a preseason 7-on-7 event.

"He can't tell me what to do, but he said to do whatever my physical therapist says and no more," Bonilla said. "He said I might feel like I can do more, but to keep on schedule."

Bonilla said that his knee recovery is ahead of schedule. He goes to physical therapy twice a week and is projected to be 100-percent prior to the initial projection of June.

Once practice concluded, Bonilla and his father got something to eat in Chapel Hill and then headed home.

Bonilla says he'll definitely return to UNC for the home opener against Middle Tennessee. He and his dad also plan to get tickets for the UNC-Georgia Tech game in Atlanta, since it's close to their home. Additionally, Bonilla is considering being in Kenan Stadium for the game against Boston College and would like to attend the season finale against Duke.

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