Sensabaugh: 'I like to hit'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It was just the first day of practice and nobody was wearing pads. But quite frankly, if there had been contact allowed, senior strong safety transfer Gerald Sensabaugh might have hurt somebody.

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    With so much left to determine, it is clear that the void left by New England Patriots' defensive back Dexter Reid could be quickly filled.

    "Yeah I like to hit people, but I'm just doing my job as best as I can," Sensabaugh said. "It's just knowing defense basically. Every team pretty much runs the same defense. Once you get the terminology down, it's easy."

    On several occasions, Sensabaugh overplayed and found himself wreaking would-be havoc in the offensive backfield, had practice been a 'full go.'

    This is the East Tennessee transfer's first and last chance to play at the Division I level, so you can't blame him for being a little anxious. And Carolina football is in position to reap the benefits of his overwhelming hunger.

    The Tar Heels began their much anticipated 2004 training camp Monday afternoon at Navy Field, quite possibly, as healthy as they have been since UNC coach John Bunting returned to Chapel Hill in December of 2000.

    "They're excited about being back together again and getting this training camp kicked off," Bunting said following practice. "We're having a real positive feeling about everything that we're doing. There is a lot of enthusiasm and flying around. And, there is more speed on the field."

    Carolina's players will participate in two days in shorts, two days in half-pads and one day with full pads. Then, they will start two-a-days in a one-a-day, two-a-day routine.

    This is also as early as the Tar Heels have started practice, and with as much time to prepare before the season opener, as Bunting has enjoyed at the helm.

    "We have a lot of time on our hands," Bunting said. "We utilize that with weight training, Life Skill meetings, Media Day, Picture Day and all of those things. Then we'll get ready for what comes next.

    "I love this time of year," he said. "It's really exciting to see the seniors come back. If you've been away for a few weeks during the summer and you can see the results of all the hard work our veteran players have vested. You see some of the new players that you saw on tape, you saw in person and they're actually running around your practice field; and you feel real good about the speed and the strength and the intellect on some of these players. I feel really good about the players that we have.

  • Get ready to see more (or less) of Jonas Seawright -- a trimmer version that has dropped 40 pounds since last year. Seawright, Balmer, Shelton Bynum, Isaiah Thomas and Chase Page worked interchangeably at tackle, and alternating as the ‘rush' tackle.

    "Jonas Seawright looks like a different guy," Bunting said. "He's half the man he used to be, and it's really exciting to see that"

  • Kentwan Balmer practiced at defensive tackle today. When asked if Balmer wanted to play basketball as well, Bunting replied, "He has spoken to me about that. I'll tell you what, I've watched him play. He's a good player and a great athlete. He's how you build them, too -- as a defensive player."

  • True freshman kicker Connor Barth was at practice sporting a fluffy, fresh-from-the-beach ‘do.' But, he was also solid kicking the ball.

    Bunting said he was not nearly as concerned about his inexperienced place-kicking corps as he was with the punters.

    "[The punters] were inconsistent, as I expected," Bunting said. "You have to drop the ball right. You have to have that great body posture. You can't lean back, like I saw a couple of them trying to nail it. It's just like golf; when you try to nail it, you hit it fifty yards out of bounds. They'll come around."

  • Former UNC coach and current Wilmington Hoggard JV coach Bill Dooley can be found on the UNC campus frequently these days supporting Bunting, a former player.

    However, on Monday, he was joined by his older brother Vince.

    Vince Dooley was Georgia's most successful coach in history, compiling an overall record of 201-77-10, winning one national championship (1980), six SEC titles (1966, 168, 176, 180, 181, 182), and taking teams to 20 bowl games in his 25 seasons as head coach of Auburn and Georgia. He was named NCAA National Coach of the Year in 1980 and SEC Coach of the Year seven times.

    He remained in Athens as UGa's athletic director for many years. But today, he was in Chapel Hill rooting for the Tar Heels.

    Stay tuned to IC for more from training camp...

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