CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- With the departures of Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, Mack Hollins, Elijah Hood, and T.J. Logan, whoever goes under center at quarterback for North Carolina will have a group of skill position players around him that have played understudy roles, at best, going into 2017.
When asked about some of those new faces, offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic led with Juval Mollette.
Mollette, listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds from Randleman (N.C.), was considered one of the prizes of the 2015 recruiting class. To this point in his career he has yet to see the field because of injuries.
“He has had both of his shoulders operated on, did you know that?” Kapilovic asked. “I had never even heard of that before. He’s now finally 100-percent healthy.”
Mollette will have an opportunity, in part, because the Tar Heels are short on players in his mold. The role that was filled by Quinshad Davis and then Howard the last years, respectively, is now open.
“We need that guy in our offense, the tall receiver who can be a big target for us,” Kapilovic said. “We need Mollette to come on for us in 2017.”
There is some experience in the wide receiver corps, mainly in the presence of Austin Proehl, who has been a steady presence and saw his role increase after Mack Hollins’s injury. Thomas Jackson, a former walk-on, was also a productive player in his limited number of opportunities. Jordan Cunningham, who transferred from Vanderbilt, saw more action in the bowl game. There’s no lack of bodies at wide receiver, including redshirt freshman Roscoe Johnson and junior Devin Perry.
Kapilovic mentioned the above players as having increased roles, with others competing for spots on the depth chart, such as Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Rontarius “Toe” Groves.
“Anthony was still learning the position last year, but he has a lot of athleticism,” Kapilovic said. “Toe Groves can explode down the field and he made some plays in fall camp, he was impressive.”
At running back, UNC only brings back Jordon Brown, but true freshman Michael Carter enrolled in January. It is not known at this time if Stanton Truitt, a transfer from Auburn, will be allowed to participate in spring practice, though the word is he’ll be on UNC’s campus during that time.
For spring practice, Kapilovic is more worried about quantity than quality.
“Are we going to have enough bodies this spring at running back?” Kapilovic said, laughing at the question. “We’re going to use a lot of walk-ons this spring. Jacob Schmidt has done a nice job for us, and along with Darius Graves and Antonio James, those guys will get some reps this spring.”
Brandon Fritts and Carl Tucker, a pair of UNC tight ends, are not new names but their presence might provide a new wrinkle to the UNC offense.
“Fritts has played well when healthy, and Carl Tucker came on and played well for us in his absence,” Kapilovic said. “Both of them can play attached or unattached to the line; both can block and catch the ball. I can see us using two tight end sets on the field at times next year.”
Spring practice is the beginning of sorting out the next generation of contributors at nearly every offensive skill position. Kapilovic did not seem overwhelmed at the prospect.
“I’ve been with Larry Fedora for over ten years now. We’ve never not had a good offense,” he concluded.