Handerson Bringing Athletic Size to Carolina

North Carolina tapped into talent-rich Florida for 2006 signee Zackery Handerson, ranked among the top 12 offensive lineman in the state by the Orlando Sentinel. Handerson graduated back on May 20, and has been lifting and running to prepare for his arrival at UNC this weekend.

"We're going to go up there to vacation a little bit first, I'm sure we'll hit Myrtle Beach," said Handerson, a three-year starter for Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail.

Listed on the Tar Heels' Signing Day roster at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Handerson said he's up to 273 pounds now. He'll join fellow incoming freshmen Morgan Randall and Alan Pelc – both 6-foot-6, as well as Garrett Reynolds (6-7) and Kyle Jolly (6-6), to add serious height up front for UNC.

"The coaches have been telling me and the whole class of '06 to expect to hit the ground running," Handerson said. "All they expect of us is that we do our best.

"I lift and run my 300-yard shuttles and 40-yard dashes almost every day. I do power cleans, bench press and squat. I'm not entirely sure what Coach [Jeff] Connors' plans are, so I'm just trying to keep my body balanced so I can pick right up where I left off."

Handerson said he's bench pressing 315 pounds and squatting 425 these days.

Named all-county first-team as a junior and senior, Handerson helped lead Bartram Trail to its first district title in 2005, posting an 8-4 record, and advancing to the semifinals of the state playoffs. He did not allow a sack as a junior and graded out over 95 percent, while dishing out approximately 40 pancake blocks.

Handerson also played tight end, but says the Tar Heels plan to start him out at offensive tackle. A testament to his all-around athletic ability, he earned all-county and all-conference honors in basketball and was an all-state performer in track and field.

"He's very athletic, very agile, and he runs well," said Bartram Trail coach Darrell Sutherland. "He was an anchor on the offensive line. We're a triple-option team and our tackles not only pass protect, but also have to be able to go out and block on quick screens, and get down field and block linebackers and defensive backs on the option.

"One thing that was a common theme with [the coaches] that came through, they couldn't believe how good his feet were. He's a guy that can rebalance and then get a block down field."

Zackery Handerson profile

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