Douglas, Part III: Developing Depth

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- With the four senior starters - Kendric Burney, Charles Brown, Deunta Williams, and DaNorris Searcy - back in the secondary, defensive backs coach Troy Douglas knows that this spring is a time to start building for the future, as much as preparing for this coming season.

"The older guys, we could probably roll out a ball tomorrow and play a game with them, but what if someone pops a string on their shoulder pads and has to come out for a play or two? So the backups have to know the same things the starters know," Douglas said. "It is paramount that we get those guys and figure out who we're going to have confidence in putting in the game when the time comes that we need one of them. Someone has to step up."

Does Douglas foresee more of his second team guys going up against the first team offense? Yes and no.

"You have to work your older guys because of the timing involved, I am not saying we're going to go a lot of ‘2' defense against ‘1' offense, no, but I am saying we're not going to leave (the starters) in long, we're going to get these other guys in and get them rolling. There will probably wind up being some of that (2D against 1O), but our 1's need a little work too. I put it like this, if Greg Little is in there, then we need to have our (first team) guys in there."

"When we are trying to develop guys like Josh Adams and our younger receivers, (Josh) McKie, Todd Harrelson, Dwight Jones, and all those receivers, then we'll put our other guys in there. Those (receivers) are solid, good ACC players that our guys can get better against. But if Greg is out there, you need to have Charlie and Kendric out there."

Tar Heel fans know quite a bit about the senior starters, but what about some of the younger players in the secondary?

"Gene (Robinson) was really our second nickel last year," Douglas said. "Most of his reps really came at nickel. The best thing about Gene is that he is a really smart kid – he's sharp. It's kind of crazy, you get in the meetings and you ask the question, ‘What does the corner do here?' – Gene answers. ‘What does the safety do here?' – Gene answers.

"The other kids may know and are kind of scared to say it, but Gene knows it well enough to have the confidence to answer. He's a smart kid, so he knows what's going on, what we are doing defensively. The other (young) guys, we've got to get that confidence in them. That's want separated Gene last year, is that he is so smart and picked up things real fast."

"Curtis (Campbell), he's a little banged up right now, coming off of a wrist injury, but should practice this spring."

Based on Douglas's comments, Robinson appears to be ready to fill the third safety role played by Melvin Williams last year, as well as being the backup nickel. What about the corner prospects?

"Mywan (Jackson) has a lot of talent," Douglas said. "He'll be a corner for us, I don't know if he is thick enough right now. Gene is a little thicker. (Terry) Shankle has excellent feet. The guy that is a tweener guy is Josh Hunter, because he's got so much size and range and he runs well. He's a guy we're trying to make a corner out of, but might wind up elsewhere -- right now, though, he's a corner."

The biggest question mark in the secondary, and the story to watch, will be the development of a third corner for UNC. Douglas was reluctant to prejudge the competition for that spot, but it is a critical one.

LeCount Fantroy is a junior contender for the spot, and he'll be challenged by Jackson, Hunter, and Shankle this spring. Each one has question marks. Fantroy hasn't made a significant contribution in the secondary to this point in his career. Neither Jackson nor Shankle may be "thick" enough, to use Douglas's word. Hunter has the size, but does he have the hips for corner?

It is a big spring for those corners, because one of them is going to win the third corner spot for the ball, played by Jordan Hemby in 2009, unless Tre Boston or Jabari Price - two true freshmen corners who will arrive this summer - can move past the veterans into that spot.

Even with the questions to answer, there are a lot of defensive back coaches who'd like to be in Douglas's shoes this spring.

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders sat down with UNC defensive backs coach Troy Douglas for a one-on-one interview. This is the final installment of a three-part series from that interview session.
Part I: Spring Goals
Part II: The Nickel
Part III: Developing Depth

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