PINEHURST, N.C. -- North Carolina’s wide receiver corps will blend enough talent with experience in 2015 to make a claim for the program’s most well-stocked position group.
Marquise Williams and UNC’s experienced offensive line will likely collect the bulk of the ACC Kickoff headlines, and deservedly so. The Tar Heels, however, return all three starters at wide receiver with quality depth filling out the two-deep.
Senior Quinshad Davis (41 catches, 470 yards, 6 TD) and junior Ryan Switzer (61 catches, 757 yards, 4 TD) head up a unit that caught 202 passes for 2,506 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2014.
Davis is not only the elder statesman of his position group, but also the offense and the program. The senior’s 33 career starts are tops on the team, edging fellow senior and offensive guard Landon Turner’s 28.
His play last fall was overshadowed by the emergence of Switzer and Mack Hollins (35 catches, 613 yards, 8 TD), although injuries affected his production. Davis
told UNC’s official site last week that he was back to “85-90” percent after fracturing his right tibia in the bowl loss to Rutgers in December.
Williams told reporters at the ACC Kickoff media event on Monday that Davis had surgery to repair stress fractures in both legs. He has been fully cleared and is participating in offseason workouts.
“He looks like he’s ready to go,” Williams said.
Davis is in position for a record-setting senior campaign. The Gaffney, S.C. native is currently tied for the school record with 21 touchdown receptions (Hakeem Nicks) and ranks eighth in career receptions (150) and ninth in career receiving yards (1,976).
Davis needs 32 receptions and 865 passing yards to break both records.
Switzer made the jump from purely a punt return specialist to the team’s top receiving threat after fine-tuning his routes entering his sophomore year. According to Williams, Switzer’s focus this offseason has been more specific, such as understanding when a defense is playing man or zone and adjusting his route accordingly.
There’s also the matter of taking advantage of matchups. With Switzer typically lined up in the slot, opposing linebackers are often tasked with tracking the speedster.
“There’s not a linebacker that can cover Ryan Switzer,” Williams said.
Hollins and Bug Howard (42 catches, 455 yards, 2 TD) join Davis as split end/flanker types that can stretch defenses and serve as sizeable targets on the perimeter.
“Mack Hollins, Quinshad and Bug, those guys are big receivers and are [working on] being able to run routes at different speeds and knowing which way to change up the way you’re running a route,” Williams said. “Those guys have been doing a heck of a job and I’m excited for this last year with them.”
The veterans aren’t the only ones showing improvement during the offseason. Williams tabbed redshirt freshman Josh Cabrera (6-3, 205) as a standout ready to make a move in 2015.
WR Corps Provide Veteran Depth
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