CONCORD, N.C. --- As has been the case during its first three editions, the annual Charlotte Metro Football Clinic had a strong Tar Heel flavor. However, Monday was Gene Chizik’s and his defensive staff’s debut at the event. Their presence certainly contributed to its record breaking attendance.
“We’re going through some transitions, as well, on defense,” Asheboro (N.C.) head coach Owen George said. “So I kind of wanted to hear what Coach Chizik had to say, obviously being a 4-3 mastermind and his success is duly noted. So I had questions that I wanted to run by him and wanted to see just the basics... It’s good to be able to grab some things from him and bring it back to our chalk board.”
George, who coaches UNC target Nick Coe, was one of approximately 150 high school coaches who showed up to this year’s clinic. Once again, Hendrick Motorsports was the site of the event, while Jay M. Robinson High School was the host.
“We had a great turnout tonight,” UNC wide receiver coach Gunter Brewer said. “We’re excited about all the guys that showed up to talk ball. The whole [UNC] staff was here, except for the head coach. I think everybody had a great time swapping ideas and learning ball… High school football is important to this state and this state is important to us.”
NCAA rules prevent Larry Fedora from attending the clinic. But, as Brewer mentioned, all nine UNC assistant coaches were not only present, they served as clinicians.
Like every other football staff, UNC is in the heat of the Spring Evaluation Period. At least to Brian Hales, who coaches football powerhouse Matthews (N.C.) Butler and has sent more than his share of players into the FBS ranks, the fact that the Tar Heels staff spent a few valuable hours during their hectic spring schedule to give back to NC’s high school coaches proves where their priorities lie.
“Plain and simple, this area matters to them,” Hales said. “You see that all on Signing Day that this area matters, but this is the stuff that really helps us out, too. It lets us think that, ‘Hey, we’re out there working, but we appreciate you.’”
This past January, one of Hales’s protégés, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, was a midterm enrollee for UNC. Ratliff-Williams was one of seven NC representatives in the 2015 class – and one of four from the greater Charlotte area.
“They’ve always been accessible to us,” said Aaron Brand, who coaches UNC target Myles Dorn at Charlotte (N.C.) Vance. “They’ve always been very inviting. Even when we go up on campus, it’s a very comfortable setting. And what they did was bring their comfortable setting on the road. It’s without a doubt the most comfortable staff around as far as getting to know the coaches in the area and Charlotte is a big recruiting area.”
The Queen City wasn’t the lone representative. Coaches from as far north as the Triad Area – where two members of UNC’s 2015 class hail from (Jalen Dalton and Juval Mollette) – were also on hand.
“Truthfully, I probably had as many guys in my area – Concord and up through Greensboro – as we did Charlotte guys,” UNC offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic said. “It’s been a real good combination of getting Charlotte and then working this Concord area, up to Salisbury, and up to Greensboro.”
For a football coaching clinic – or most events for that matter – Monday’s clinic began in unique fashion. Attendees were escorted to a practice pit area where Hendrick Motorsports gave a timed pit demonstration (i.e. quickly changing all four tires and filling up the gas tank of a NASCAR car) by its students. The background of the students is where football and NASCAR intersect – each has played college football, including alumni from East Carolina and Pittsburgh.
After returning to the main event hall, the group split up into four groups with a UNC defensive coach – Chizik, John Papuchis, Tray Scott, and Charlton Warren – presenting concepts and/or drills on a white board. After an hour, the quartet gave way to their offensive counterparts – Brewer, Keith Heckendorf, Kapilovic, and Seth Littrell.
Any time that we can get together, talk ball, [and] share ideas, it’s all about building relationships – and that’s what it’s all about,” Kapilovic said. “Building those relationships are key.”
Record Attendance for UNC at Charlotte Clinic
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