Page out for '04; Staff adjusts depth chart

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina senior defensive tackle Chase Page injured his left hand during Tuesday's practice session and will miss the 2004 season. "It's a difficult blow losing Chase for the season, he's had a tremendous training camp," head coach John Bunting said. Minus a projected starter, the Tar Heel staff has made some changes to the depth chart.

"He was dominatating the line of scrimmage and dominating a blocker in the drill were were in," Bunting continued. "He knocked him back three yards, pulled his hand out and snapped his pinky."

The Mt. Pleasant, S.C., native started all 12 games in each of the past two seasons. He had 47 tackles last fall, including five for losses, and had one and a half sacks. He made 11 tackles in Carolina's win over Wake Forest and had seven stops at Wisconsin.

"I was really sad with what happened," said senior DT Jonas Seawright. "He's a good guy first and foremost. He worked real hard this summer during the offseason. It hurt me to my heart to see him go out like this.

"But like Coach tells us, everything happens for a reason. That's not something we wanted to happen to Chase, but it just happened and we can't control it. So now we're going to have to keep truckin - we can't ease up on things because now we've got to be strong."

Page played as a true freshmen in 2001, thus he is eligible to receive a medical red-shirt this year and compete in 2005.

"He's already had surgery," Bunting said. "It's going to be a difficult rehabilitation. Fortunately for him and us, he has a fifth year coming."

Defensive line coach Brad Lawing discussed how Page's absence will impact the depth chart.

"Right now we've got Tommy Davis, Kyndraus Guy, Brian Rackley, Alden Blizzard -- these four guys are going to have to be defensive end by committee," Lawing said. "We're looking at another position change. [Hilee Taylor] can go in and become what I call DPR -- Designated Pass Rusher."

Lawing also said freshman Khalif Mitchell will be moved from end to defensive tackle, which is where he played while prepping last year at Hargrave Military Academy.

"Anytime you're a freshman, it's tougher on you, but Khalif, being a second-semester freshman, he's a little bit different," Lawing said. "He'll step up and be fine. Khalif's going to do a fine job."

Bunting added, "We're going to have to focus on getting certain players to play other positions better. Khalif Mitchell will now move inside. Hilee Taylor who has been playing linebacker exclusively will now have to focus on third down rush. As time wears on we're not going to change much more, we might make another tweak here or there. The most important thing is for the Brian Rackleys, Alden Blizzards and Kyndraus Guys to step up."

(UNC Athletic Communications contributed to the report.)


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