CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina coordinators Gene Chizik and Chris Kapilovic shared their insights on freshmen standouts throughout training camp during Larry Fedora’s radio show on Tuesday night.
Quite possibly the most significant storyline of August thus far is the multitude of freshmen that have worked their way into the secondary’s two-deep.
“We’re going to have to count on some young guys,” Chizik said. “Patrice Rene is the first one that pops into my mind. He’s a guy that we recruited and thought that maybe he could be a corner or maybe even be a safety. It’s hard to play with a 6-foot-2, 200-pound corner, but that’s where he’s going to end up. We’ll see what happens on game day, Sept. 3, but it looks like he’s going to get a lot of playing time at the corner spot.”
Rene has moved ahead of sophomore cornerback Corey Bell for the starting cornerback position in UNC’s nickel package. Myles Dorn, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound freshman out of Charlotte, is battling for playing time at safety.
“Myles has really, really come a long way,” Chizik said. “We don’t know exactly where he’ll be on Sept. 3, but he’s made enough strides where we know that by Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, we expect these guys to take on a huge role. He’s another young guy that can do that. We’ve got some guys in the secondary like that.”
UNC’s second-year defensive coordinator also praised the play of safety D.J. Ford, who is one of the more unheralded recruits of the 2016 signing class. Defensive backs coach Charlton Warren discovered the 6-foot-3, 195-pound prospect out of Ashland, Ala. in mid-November. Ford had official visits scheduled for Massachusetts and Louisiana-Lafayette in January, but committed to UNC after being offered a scholarship in mid-January.
“He was a great student and we signed him - it was a little bit of a roll of the dice – but we thought we saw some great traits of a football player and he’s really coming on,” Chizik said.
Kapilovic offered a few rookie standouts on the offensive side of the ball as well.
“Toe Groves, a receiver, he had a nice scrimmage for us and did a nice job,” Kapilovic said. “Jordon Brown, a running back from Durham, is doing a nice job. The three freshmen offensive linemen (Luke Elder, Jay-Jay McCargo, Tyler Pritchett) are going to be good players, but at this point it looks like we’re going to be able to redshirt those guys, which is great…
“And we really like our young quarterbacks, Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd.”
UNC’s first-year offensive coordinator also highlighted redshirt freshman tight end Carl Tucker’s improvement during training camp.
"Larry Fedora Live" airs weekly during the season on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates, including UNC's flagship station (WCHL 1360AM/97.9FM).