Practice Tour: A.J. Blue

CHATHAM, Va. --- North Carolina pledge A.J. Blue will be a part of one of the most dynamic offensive backfields in the nation this fall.

"Kevin Newsome is the starter, but we're going to rotate; A.J. is going to play quarterback and tailback," Hargrave Military Academy post graduate head football coach Robert Prunty said.

"But I can tell you now, A.J. Blue is a quarterback. He's good enough to play quarterback at Carolina… When he first got here, the initial thing was everybody was saying ‘running back, running back,' but A.J. Blue is a quarterback. I've seen a lot of different quarterbacks come through this program and A.J. Blue and Kevin Newsome are up there with the best."

Being eliteamazing open-field runners, many assume Blue and Newsome won't play quarterback on the collegiate level. Prunty disagrees.

"They both are true quarterbacks," Prunty said. "But the good thing about them: they're also athletic."

Blue, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Dallas (N.C.) North Gaston High School where he broke several county yardage and touchdown records during his career.

In February, Blue signed with UNC. After failing to become academically qualified, Blue headed to Hargrave Military Academy.

"[I hope to] just basically get academically better and develop habits like applying myself more, doing homework, and just putting more effort into my schoolwork overall," Blue said. "Physically, just getting in-shape, getting reps at quarterback and getting reps at running back."

Walking around during Wednesday's media day, Blue was nearly unrecognizable. After arriving in Chatham, Blue was required to shave his trademark dreadlocks and facial hair.

"When I got here I was looking for him but I couldn't recognize him," fellow UNC-bound Hargrave teammate Kevin Reddick said with a laugh.

During the practice portion of Wednesday's media day, Blue never lined up at running back and split quarterback reps with Newsome roughly 50-50. Throughout the practice, Blue constantly drew praise from Prunty – notably more often than any other Hargrave player.

Following practice, Prunty asked for five players to deliver an experienced-based message to the team. Blue stood up almost immediately and discussed his rough childhood, including the shooting death of his older brother.

Blue plans to spend one semester at Hargrave and enroll at UNC in January. He'll take classes to boost his grade point average, as well as SAT/ACT prep classes.

"I'm signing up for every SAT and ACT [testing]," Blue said. "See, the one thing I regret not taking in high school is the ACT… I felt like, maybe that could have helped me, maybe not. Maybe this was where I was destined to be."

A couple of days before arriving at Hargrave, Blue spoke to UNC assistant coach John Lovett.

"He said everything was going good and they are just waiting for me and hoping I get my scores right," Blue said.

Despite Prunty's beliefs, Blue said he will arrive at UNC categorized as an athlete, and is expected to work out with the running back unit.

Blue addresses the team

A.J. Blue Profile

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