CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Larry Fedora met individually with a select group of UNC juniors on Monday to discuss their future.
Third-year players are eligible for early entry into the NFL Draft. Several Tar Heel juniors, including quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running back Elijah Hood and defensive tackle Nazair Jones, are potential candidates to make the jump to the next level. Fedora did not specify which Tar Heels were involved in the meetings.
Fedora’s meetings with the players were intended to start the process of providing them all of the information they need to eventually make a decision.
“We put together a portfolio on all the information for them as far as for the college advisory committee that the NFL puts together,” Fedora said on his radio show on Tuesday. “Each one of these guys filled out the paperwork to apply to see what grade the committee gives them. The committee comes back and says, ‘We see you as a first rounder, we see you as a second rounder, or we see you as a stay in school.’ That’s the three things that they say.
“So we give them all that information. We give them information on how the draft is, where it’s slotted, all the different things. All of the underclassmen who have come out, what percentages have made it, what percent hasn’t. It’s a huge portfolio with a lot of information.”
While the meetings are strictly business, Fedora says it’s important for each player to know that he will have the program’s support regardless of their decision.
“The main thing I tell those guys is, ‘I want you to do what’s best for you,’” Fedora said. “You’re not letting anybody down here; the fans aren’t going to be let down. Sure, if you decide to come out they’re going to hate to see you go, but they’re going to be happy for you. That’s what we’re going to do. If it’s the right decision for that man and his family, then we’re going to support him 100 percent. And if he chooses to come back we’re going to be happy for him, too, and coach the heck out of him.”
The early entry candidates will receive their committee grades in mid-December and will have until Jan. 16 to make their final decision.
It seems like it was a frustrating end to a promising season. I know the last couple of weeks didn’t go the way you wanted.
“I wish I knew the answers. We talked to the team Monday in the team meeting about what’s happened in the past three weeks to our team because we don’t practice any different, it’s the same coaches, it’s the same players. We just didn’t perform to the way we needed to the play and to the standard that we have. Hopefully we’re going to get that straightened out in the 11 to 12 bowl practices that we have and play the way we’re capable of in the bowl game.”
Is it hard knowing how to judge the year? 8-4 is a solid year, but it didn’t end the way you wanted and I know you had bigger goals.
“There’s never any good losses. So you’ve got four and there are definitely losses in there where you feel like you should have won the football game and were very capable of winning. It’s disappointing in that aspect. I will say that this team accomplished some great things this year and I’m very proud of what they did. We just didn't get it done at the end. It’s nothing but my job to make sure that happens.”
Where do you think the biggest challenges were offensively over the past few weeks?
“It was in every area. We didn’t run the ball as well as we’d like to, we didn’t block as well as we’d like to, we didn’t protect as well as we’d like to, we didn’t throw and catch as well as we’d like to, so every aspect of it.”
How impactful do you the injuries you sustained throughout the year were to your team?
“Well you look back and you miss those guys, but it’s just the way the game is. You don’t have a choice. You don’t get to say these guys get to stay healthy all year. It’s just the way it works, and we understand that. It’s just part of the game. So the next guy has to step up and he’s being counted on to do the job just as if he was there in the beginning. Those guys did it…. For whatever reason we didn’t get it done.”
It felt like the slow start against N.C. State set the tone for that game and your team was climbing uphill the rest of the way.
“We were. We let them jump on us right from the beginning and we’re down 21 points. We fight from that point on all the way through. And I believe our guys thought they were going to win the football game all the way through until the end. I’d love to have those two passes back for (Mitch Trubisky) because he’s going to make them 99 times out of 100 and we were off three or four inches on each one of them.”
What was your perspective on the skirmish that occurred and what happened?
“I don’t know what happened, I just know I got my arm jerked out of my socket is what happened. I tried to grab a hold of Jalen (Dalton) and hold him back and he’s strong. I felt like a ragdoll hanging on him. I did the best that I could. John Montgomery might have done a better job of controlling, but tempers flared. I really don’t know what happened, I never got an explanation of what happened.”
It seemed like going into the game both teams knew the line of scrimmage would be very important.
“We said going into the game that the team that runs the ball best is going to win the football game, and that’s what happened. However many times we’ve played in this game, Carolina and this team in red, it’s usually the team that's rushed the ball best that wins the football game.”