UNC FB 2002: Tight ends and fullbacks

North Carolina should get a lot more out of these two positions in 2002.

The tight end and fullback positions have a lot in common.  Both are involved in every play when they are in the game, primarily as blockers. 


"The tight end is involved in the offense every play whether we're catching the ball or not.  If the ball comes our way, we will try and make plays," says starting tight end Zach Hilton.


Hilton and starting fullback Madison Hedgecock have something else in common.  They both started for the first time last season.  In terms of the stat sheets, neither one showed up very often last season.  Hilton had only 12 catches for 88 yards, and caught two touchdown passes.  Hedgecock had only one carry for one yard. 


That could change this season. 


"We definitely have a lot more variety throughout our offense," says Hedgecock, "We are deep at tight ends and full backs.  We use them a lot more in our schemes than we did a year ago.  I think that will help us throughout the year."


With wide receiver Kory Bailey's graduation and Bosley Allen's departure from the team, the Tar Heels are not as experienced at that position – where the bulk of offensive production came from last season.   Bailey and Allen combined for 83 catches and 1170 receiving yards last year.  Though there is still depth and talent at the wide receiver position with Sam Aiken, Chesley Borders, Brandon Russell and some newcomers such as Jawarski Pollock, Derrele Mitchell, and Michael Gilmore, the tight end and fullback positions are deep and now have some experience. 


The offensive line from last season was also young and inexperienced, with four first-time starters – a redshirt freshman and three sophomores.  The tight ends and fullbacks were called on to shore up pass protection and running schemes as a result.  This season, three starters are back and the offensive line as a whole has improved.


"Last year there were a few freshmen playing on the offensive line.  Along with me and a lot of people on offense, we're still there.  We're sophomores and juniors.  Now there are three sophomores and two juniors on the line, we're still a young offense.  But they have developed along the same lines I have.  They've developed into getting down their schemes in the offense, just like I have," says Hedgecock. 


The improvement along the offensive line, plus the depth at those positions could lead to hearing their names called more often on Saturdays. 


The reserve tight end is Bobby Blizzard, a transfer from Kentucky who had to sit out last season.  As a sophomore at Kentucky, Blizzard caught 23 passes for 199 yards.  Blizzard will be used in two-tight end sets and as Hilton's reserve.  Initially, Blizzard struggled some with his blocking responsibilities, but Zach Hilton thinks he has made a lot of progress in that area.


"I think he is a complete tight end," says Hilton.  "He really came in with a reputation as a receiver; he caught a lot of balls at Kentucky. I was amazed at how good of a blocker he is.  He has great strength and plays with good leverage." 


Playing behind Hedgecock at fullback are sophomore James Gibson and junior James Faison.  Faison played in four games as a freshman and had five carries for 27 yards.  Gibson, who looks to be second on the depth chart, was moved to fullback in the spring.  He had impressed the coaching

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