First Practice: The Time Has Come

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina football practice got underway Friday afternoon on a hot and humid Navy Field. UNC coach John Bunting was impressed with the new faces in camp and the improving depth across the board on defense. Meanwhile he continues his guarded optimism surrounding the offensive backfield.

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    The back up tailback position is up for grabs between a handful of freshmen. Behind Barrington Edwards, "…one of these guys is going to step up, we just don't know who," Bunting said. "I think there are a lot of freshmen that have played running back across the country."

    Fifth-year senior Jarwarski Pollock said he was unaware that he is the leading returning rusher off last year's squad behind injured Ronnie McGill.

    "I didn't know that," said Pollock, who had six carries for 24 yards in 2004. "Barrington Edwards will be the leader after this season."

    Senior strong safety Mahlon Carey ran for 216 yards in 2002, but remains positioned on the defensive side of the ball.

    Behind Matt Baker, it appears redshirt freshman Joey Bozich has moved into a close race with Roger Heinz, who Bunting said "will split a lot of snaps."

  • While Bunting admitted this is the best defense he's had in camp since the 2001 class which featured No. 1 round draft picks Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims, he still remains apprehensive about stopping the run, third down play and creating turnovers.

    "There is a world of difference in our front seven," he said.

  • At linebacker, not only will Jeff Longhany and Larry Edwards vie for the starting SAM position, but according to assistant coach Tommy Thigpen, Victor Worsley will be in a stiff competition with Doug Justice at MIKE, and Chase Rice could even push Tommy Richardson.

  • Sixth-year senior offensive lineman Skip Seagraves returned to practice for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot at Virginia. Senior defensive tackle Chase Page was also back on the field after breaking a finger in preseason camp last year

    "What a price he paid; and his parents," Bunting said of Seagraves. "Everybody involved with getting him a sixth year really worked hard to get it done. He deserves it, and he got it. He's worked very hard here to do things right, and I hope he has a great training camp.

    "When [Page] went down last year, there were a lot of long faces and I was one of them. But I knew he would have a chance to comeback and be a part of a better defense."

  • When the day started, it appeared N.C. high school coaching legend and veteran UNC assistant Kenny Browning would miss his first football practice in over 40 years, in order to attend his son's wedding. However, Browning surprised even Coach Bunting when he showed up at camp and attended to his duties before departing early to be with his family.

    "His streak is still intact," Bunting said.


    Better than expected: Bryon Bishop (back) and Scott Lenahan (knee) worked out in green jerseys -- limited contact.

    As expected: Cameron Sexton (ankle) walked around the field frontwards and backwards without a cast or boot. He also worked out on the stationary bike.

    Calvin Darity (foot) was at practice, but did not participate. However, his recovery is right on schedule.

    Ronnie McGill (pectoral muscle) was at practice, but did not participate.

    Nothing to worry about: For now, Mark Paschal is a linebacker... of course he practiced today.

    Khalif Mitchell and Jacoby Watkins were sick and should return to practice soon.

    Not on current roster: Joe Kedra (knee) and Xavier Rainey (leg) are not currently among the 105 players at practice. However, they both will be allowed to return to the team following the first day of classes.

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