"I am really happy with the way these guys are working, "said Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Connors.
A good number of Tar Heel players qualified for what Connors calls the "Hard-Gainers" group. These are players who have had a difficult time adding weight - a problem many people would like to have.
In that group, several players have made progress since the Peach Bowl.
Jermicus Banks - 265
Steven Bell - 268
Brian Chacos - 267
Larry Jessup - 245
Isaac Mooring - 272
Clay Roberson - 235
Jacque Dumas - 258
Connors said he was pleased with the progress of several offensive linemen. "Steven Bell has been working hard, and he is a kid we think as potential to play next year," said Connors. Bell has gotten his weight up to 265 pounds from the 240 pounds or so when he came to North Carolina.
Other offensive linemen who have gained:
Drew Hunter - 290
Arthur Smith - 287
Chase Page - 272 [though Page may play defense]
Skip Seagraves - 285
Justin Barton - 307
Marcus Wilson, who had a hand injury late last season, has regained up to 265 pounds. "We'd like to get Marcus back up to 275, "said Connors.
One offensive lineman lost weight, as planned, in the off-season. "Jason Brown is down to 311, and we would like for him to get down about 10 more pounds," Connors said.
Tight end Zach Hilton has brought his weight up to 276 "lean pounds," according to Coach Connors. Hilton has also become a verbal leader in the weight room.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jonas Seawright [though there are rumors that he might move to the offensive line] is now at 343 pounds and has made strides in the off-season in terms of strength. Donti Coats is up to 298 pounds and is "very strong."
One player that has impressed Connors in the off-season so far is Malcolm Stewart. "Malcolm has become a leader in the weight room. He has really good physical attributes, he runs well and has good strength."
Elsewhere defensively, Clay Roberson is now at 235 pounds, Jeff Longhany is at 260 pounds, and Defonte Coleman is "on his way back" according to Coach Connors. Coleman has battled illness and injury during his career and is now at 219 pounds.
Connors said that running back Jacque Lewis may have "added a step," during the off-season in speed, and that the running backs were making good progress. Andre Williams has been limited by the back injury he sustained last season.
On the transfer players, Coach Connors said that he thought the S&C program was a "shock to the system" of Bobby Blizzard and Chad Scott. Blizzard is "down" to 265 and Coach Connors would like to see him lose 5-10 more pounds.
Carl Smalls, a "425-plus bencher," has good upper body strength and just needs more endurance, "He's a strong kid," said Connors.
Coach Connors was also excited about the 2002 class of recruits. "I can't wait to get my hands on the signees," said Connors. "I don't know about rankings or ratings, but the guys we signed are fast and they will hit you. I think that they [as a group] have the qualities we are looking for at UNC. We think a lot of that group."
"As long as our recruits can run, and are willing to play the game hard,
I think we can get them ready to play," Connors concluded.