Durant named starting QB against Miami (OH)

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- University of North Carolina head football coach John Bunting has named sophomore Darian Durant the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels.

"Darian Durant will be our starting quarterback. He's excited about the opportunity," Bunting said.

He explained that stats and documentation, in conjunction with game experience, bore out that Durant should be the starter but noted that C.J. Stephens has had a good camp, and he will see action in the first two or three games.

Durant found out Sunday night after practice. Bunting pulled him aside and gave him the news.

"I was ecstatic," Durant remarked. "I knew that I had worked hard, and I kind of had a feeling, because of my performance in training camp. But, just to hear the announcement come out of his mouth was a good feeling."

After deciding to leave the team in the winter, Bunting "left the door cracked," to allow Durant to return. The sophomore South Carolina native exercised that option, but not everyone immediately accepted him with open arms, so he has had to go the extra mile to prove his loyalty to the team.

"This summer, I was probably the guy that he hated the most," senior linebacker Malcolm Stewart said. "I pushed him, but I did that because I think certain people on the team felt like he just walked back in after leaving the team. I really didn't feel that way. I just wanted to push him to compensate for the time he was chillin'.

"I had to stay on him, push him, and talk to him to motivate him. But the bottom line is that I did all that for him and for the purpose of us winning. The harder I am on him, the better he'll be. We have a great relationship, and he realizes that I did that for that purpose."

"I just want to earn the respect of everybody on this team," Durant explained, "and, hopefully, earn back the respect of all the fans, because I know with the decision I made earlier, during the winter, it was hard for people to be 100 percent followers. I want to say to everybody that I'm back 100 percent and ready to get this thing rolling."

"It means a lot [to be named starter]," Durant explained further. First of all, Coach Bunting, after all I've done, he came to me and said I'm the starter. I think that means he has 100 percent trust in me. Once you have the head guy on your side, you have everybody on your side. I'm just thankful that he left the door open for me and gave me the opportunity to compete. Hopefully, I can go out and make his decision look like the right one."

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