ACC KO: Player Quotes & Audio

GREENSBORO, Ga. -- Junior wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and sophomore safety Deunta Williams represented North Carolina at the 2008 ACC Football Kickoff on Sunday. Read and listen to excerpts of what the players had to say...

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Hakeem Nicks
(37:25)

With there not being one dominant team in this league, is there an opportunity for you guys to make a move?
"Yes, it's definitely up in the air for us to do something this year. All of our players have strong beliefs about it, and with that being said, people believe it can happen. There are great teams out there, but we feel like we can compete. We stayed in a lot of games last year against some top teams – we took Virginia Tech down to the wire [and] South Carolina. We lost sixe games by a total of 24 points. And that just came from us being young and there being a lot of freshmen out there on the field playing, but this year they're coming back experienced. We know what we've got to do."

Have any of the other players down here talked to you about UNC's potential this season?
"Yes. The guys I've talked to already have told me that we're destined to have a big year. We definitely feel like we are. I feel like as long as we believe, then that's all that really matters. As long as we stay humble and stay focused and know what we have to do, then we're definitely going to benefit this season."

On Brooks Foster's role this season:
"Really, Brooks could be the No. 1 receiver. Brooks is the type of guy that you can always count on, just like you can always count on [Brandon] Tate and you can always count on me. Brooks is a 4.3 guy in the [40-yard dash]. He can really work that slot – he's not scared to go in there and catch it in the middle or catch it in traffic. He's got good breakaway speed. Brooks is a natural athlete… He's strong in the weight room, he's strong on the field, he's one of those guys that does the right things, he's humble and he just likes to get the job done."

Are you a player that we should keep an eye on this season?
"You should definitely keep an eye on me. I'm definitely going to keep making plays – I'm not going to stop doing that. Trying to drop that speed down, get faster, and try to catch some guys off guard with that. Just keep making circus catches and big plays."

What's the biggest thing that you took away from your first season under Coach Davis?
"Playing with confidence. Playing with a level of self-esteem that you know can compete [with]."

What are your strengths at receiver this season?
"Being so strong and being physical. And not taking anybody lightly. If you line up in front of me, then I'm just going to go hard. In other words, I'm going to try to make it a long day for you. I'm going to push you to the limit and see how good you really are."


Deunta Williams
(29:24)

What's North Carolina going to be like this year?
"I think our football team will be extremely strong this year. Speaking defensively, first off, I think we have extremely young guys that are talented. We have a lot of depth on our defensive line. We're adding athletes as we recruit and stuff like that. We have a lot of athletes at linebacker right now that are going to get a chance to play this year. I think our secondary is going to be a lot better this year, which I think we were like second in the ACC last year [in pass defense]. I think we might be able to challenge Clemson for the No. 1 spot this year. Our linebackers are a lot smarter and defensive line is a lot stronger and a lot better conditioned.

"Offensively, I think T.J. Yates is going to have an amazing arm this year. Our receivers have always been good, so they're going to be strong, and I think this year we're going to have a running game with Greg Little and [Jamal] Womble and a couple of other guys."

Have things started to slow down for you on the field entering your second season?
"To be honest with you, everything slowed down a lot last year because I studied film so much. But this year, it's just amazing. It's hard for me to get caught up in the play-action pass now, because it looks so slow. Something looks different now when they do a different thing. It's a blessing, because everything has slowed down to the point where you're able to make plays that you didn't think you were able to make. I've just got to trust myself and trust what I'm seeing. I think this year that we'll all ball-out because we're all a year smarter."

How is the chemistry with safety counterpart Trimane Goddard going be this year?
"I think Trimane and I are going to do well this year, for the simple fact that Trimane is so intelligent – he's one of the most intelligent football players that I've ever been around. He knows everything before it happens. I just try to pick his brain now during the summer and find out exactly what he thinks when he's on the field so that I'll know what he's trying to do. So I think our chemistry is going to be a major thing."

How beneficial is it for the secondary to square off against Nicks and Co. in practice every day?
"It's a tremendous blessing for us, because there are a lot of times where we get frustrated, but we've got to understand that we're going against the best people, I think, in the ACC at receiver. So I feel like everyday going at it like that is only sharpening their skills as well as sharpening ours. Just going up against Hakeem and Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster and people like that that are extremely talented, and when you go up against people like that, you have no choice but to get better."

How's your golf game?
"I heard I could be compared to Charles Barkley if you've seen Charles golf. I haven't, so hopefully it's not too bad… The thing with me is that I can hit the ball extremely far, but it just always curves to the right. That's the only thing."


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