Searcy: A Safety of Aggression

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – When a Butch Davis defense takes the field, one thing that's for certain is that the scheme will be aggressive in nature. And for sophomore strong safety Da'Norris Searcy, hearing about that style of play is like the UNC fight song to his ears.

Sophomore free safety Deunta Williams told Inside Carolina this summer that Searcy may possibly be the most aggressive player in the North Carolina secondary.

"I do bring a lot of aggressiveness to the table," Searcy said. "Basically, I'm in the box a lot being a strong safety and I played linebacker in high school, so I was so used to being aggressive that I just carried it over to college."

The 6-foot, 200-pounder indicated during post-practice interviews on Thursday that his preference to play in an all-out attack mode is not only allowed by the coaching staff, but that defensive coordinator/secondary coach Everett Withers actually encourages that style.

There is no fun in letting an opponent nickel-and-dime you down the football field, picking up five yards here and seven yards there.

If mistakes are going to occur – and assuredly, they will – it's better to commit them on the fly than while you're sitting on your haunches. But the mistakes that Searcy committed during his freshman season have decreased in quantity as his knowledge of the game heads in the other direction.

"I'm still learning," Searcy said. "I know a lot more than what I did last training camp, so now it's just about putting it to use."

Searcy played in all 12 games last fall, primarily on special teams, but also saw action in eight games behind starting strong safety Trimane Goddard. But while the Decatur, Ga. product finished his freshman campaign with just nine tackles, his playmaking ability was on display.

With North Carolina leading Miami 13-0 in the second quarter, fellow Tar Heel Quan Sturdivant blocked a punt deep in Hurricanes territory that Searcy picked up and ran it 12 yards to the 10-yard line. T.J. Yates would eventually score on a quarterback sneak to put the Heels up 20-0.

Searcy also joined defensive end Darius Powell in forcing a late fumble by Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett deep in Yellow Jacket territory that the Tar Heels would quickly take advantage of with a touchdown to move in front 25-24 with less than six minutes remaining.

This season, Searcy is hoping to show off more of those playmaking abilities with more snaps in the secondary behind Goddard.

"Personally, I just want to be involved in a lot more packages, more than I was last season," Searcy said. "So I really just want to be able to get out there and make plays and help the team on defense and on special teams."

The Georgian originally committed to John Bunting's coaching staff during his senior season of high school, but opened up his commitment when Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. Searcy's suitors were plentiful, with offers rolling in from LSU, Florida and Virginia Tech, among others. But the opportunity to get on the field early at North Carolina was simply too good to pass up.

"Talking to Coach Davis, he just wanted guys to come in and play," Searcy said. "He doesn't care who it is – it could be a freshman – but he just wants guys that can play. He said that I would have the opportunity to come in and play early, which sounded good to me, because I really didn't want to red-shirt."

By now, everyone is familiar with the high expectations suddenly surrounding this UNC football program, but even for a young player like Searcy, understanding what it takes to win is the first step in making some noise in the ACC.

"We put it out there that we have the chance to be great, but we have to work at the little things to get there," Searcy said. "We can't focus on the big picture yet, because we've got a lot of work to do to climb that ladder."

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