Sweet Making Big Gains

Freshman offensive lineman William Sweet has already made huge strides on the field and in the weight room in his first months on campus.

Back in Jacksonville, Florida for high school graduation last week, William Sweet had a surprise for family members who hadn’t seen him in months.

Some 18 year olds put on a freshman 15 during their first semester of college. For Sweet, it’s been more like a freshman 30.

“Oh yeah, we could see that he’d picked up some extra pounds,” William Sweet’s father, William Jr. says. “As my wife said, he’s just huge.”

Sweet, one of UNC’s highest-rated incoming freshmen for the 2015 season and one of the nation’s highest-rated offensive tackles, weighed 268 pounds upon arrival in Chapel Hill in January and is now right around the 300 mark.

He has visited home just twice since enrolling in college in January: first, during spring break and again in June for graduation. His extended family came from all over the country last weekend -- notably New York and Atlanta -- to celebrate. William’s dad said the family hosted anywhere from 150 to 200 friends and family for a graduation party at their home, with many noting his son’s enhanced physique.

“It looks like it’s muscle. It doesn’t look like he’s picked up any fat,” William, Jr. says. “I know they have a nutritionist that makes sure that they’re not only eating but eating right. So, I think they’re doing a good job of that.”

The added muscle coincides with a stream of good news for Sweet who, after arriving on campus at the bottom of the depth chart, finished spring practice at the No. 2 spot at left tackle.

William Jr. hasn’t watched his son play much since arriving in Chapel Hill but the two talk every day and he emails periodically with UNC offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic. So far, all the feedback is all positive.

“(Kapilovic) is very pleased with how he’s responded to the challenge,” William, Jr. says. “He’s looking forward to him being a contributing member to the team.”

Probably the biggest challenge so far has been getting used to the speed and pace of practicing under coach Larry Fedora. His dad said his son is putting in the necessary work though, like running every morning at 6 a.m., to make sure he’s ready.

“I don’t think they did that as much in high school,” William, Jr. says. “When I was (in Chapel Hill), the way they were moving continuously back and forth, just trying to get the speed of the game together.”

The first semester of college is all about making adjustments and William Jr. is glad his son got that out of the way by enrolling early. He already adjusted to the demands of his schedule, with each of his roommates keeping the other on track. He adjusted to college level classes, getting all Bs his first semester. He adjusted to the weight room.

“I think it’s the best decision he ever made,” William Jr., says. “Coming in in June would’ve put him behind the 8-ball, so to speak.”

William Jr. views his son’s early enrollment as a half redshirt year, getting all the benefits of a red-shirt without missing any games. Which of course begs the question; will an actual red-shirt year be necessary?

“That would be a coach’s call,” William Jr. says. “I don’t know anything other than where he is on the depth chart. I don’t foresee him going backwards, but you never know. He might have an injury or something like that. He’s looking full steam ahead and he’s looking forward to playing.”

William adds that a redshirt wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but, like most athletes, his son is ready to get on the field and contribute.

“I think he’s anxiously optimistic about the future. He’s looking forward to the season. He’s looking forward to getting an opportunity to participate,” William Jr. says. “I think he would be responsive to either way but I think he wants to play.”

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