CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – If you’re looking for an answer to North Carolina’s quarterback questions, you will have to wait a few more months.
All four Tar Heel quarterbacks currently on the roster – junior walk-on Manny Miles, sophomore Nathan Elliott, and redshirt freshmen Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd – were given an opportunity to showcase their talents as they split snaps in UNC’s spring game at Fetzer Field on Saturday.
Elliott won the day, as the Celina, Texas native threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns on 8-of-12 passing. Byrd (12-21, 120 yards, TD), Surratt (5-14, 90 yards), and Miles (3-8, 41 yards, TD) all rotated with Elliott, as has been quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf’s approach all spring long.
With Saturday’s game closing the door on the Tar Heels’ spring, head coach Larry Fedora will need to see more to identify a frontrunner at the position.
“I’d say that they’ve made a lot of progress, but I wouldn’t say anybody has separated themselves,” Fedora told reporters after the scrimmage. “We’ll get into the summer and into fall camp and if somebody separates themselves at that time then we’ll make a decision.”
While the Tar Heels have had recent stability at the position courtesy of Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky, Fedora says the team’s current situation isn’t a foreign one.
“There’s been many times I haven’t had a guy coming out of the spring,” he said. “Everybody wants a quarterback named coming out of spring and some of it is just out of spite on my part and some of it is that nobody has separated themselves…. We’ve got four guys competing for the job right now, but I don’t think any of them are ready to go for us at this point.”
Fedora expressed the need for experience at quarterback, but Elliott is the only one of the four quarterbacks with any live game experience, having thrown nine passes in three games last season. Senior wide receiver Austin Proehl is putting it on himself and the rest of UNC’s offensive veterans to help whomever wins the job ease into their role.
“They throw us the ball and it’s our job to catch it,” Proehl said after recording 109 receiving yards and a touchdown Saturday. “They’ve all come out with a great attitude and get along. We’ve got to make plays for them and make them look good.”
Most of the Tar Heels, especially those on defense, played coy when asked about the quarterbacks’ prospects. Fedora has not allowed his trio of quarterbacks to be interviewed this spring.
“All of them stood out,” senior safety Donnie Miles said. “They’re all good in their own way and we got to see a lot of that this spring. They all make plays in different ways.”
It’s also worth noting that the Tar Heels are awaiting the arrival of Brandon Harris, who will be a fifth cog in the quarterback machine. The LSU grad transfer will arrive in Chapel Hill this summer, and could be a frontrunner for the job the second he steps onto campus.
Harris played two games for the Tigers last season before getting benched in favor of Danny Etling. He completed 53.5 percent of his passes (161-of-301) for 2,297 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his final two years in Baton Rouge.
With so much uncertainty in the Tar Heels’ immediate future, Fedora says that he can assure one thing: “With all of the work over the summer and all the work through fall camp, we will have somebody ready to play and lead this team.”