Davis Clarifies Renner's Status

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that red-shirt freshman Bryn Renner will continue playing both football and baseball this spring, albeit with a strong emphasis on the pigskin.

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Butch Davis Pre-Practice

** When Davis was asked about sharing Renner with the baseball time prior to Monday's practice, the fourth-year head coach responded by saying, "Now that it's football practice, he'll be here 100 percent of the time. It's 100 percent football until after spring football is over with… When football is over on April 10th, then he'll be able to go back to baseball."

Those comments were not surprising, considering that the red-shirt freshman quarterback is on a football scholarship. But what was surprising is that Renner (0-1, RBI, BB in three at-bats) stepped into the batter's box in the fifth inning of UNC's 25-1 demolition of Princeton at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday.

Davis quickly broached the topic on Wednesday, indicating that he wanted to set the record the straight on Renner's dual-sport activities.

"I have encouraged Bryn to try to play baseball," Davis said. "I know baseball is important to him and he likes it… Basically what the agreement is is that he's going to play football and do everything that's required of him in football, but if there are opportunities, like on Tuesday, if it's our off-day, if they want him to play or need him to play, then he's going to do that."

For example, the football team will not practice over Easter weekend, allowing Renner to join the baseball team for a critical series against Maryland in College Park.

Baseball head coach Mike Fox and Davis have had to work together to ensure that Renner avoids exceeding the NCAA mandate of no more than 20 participation hours per week, as well as the rule that requires student-athletes to have at least one day off per week.

** Ryan Houston did not practice on Monday, and when asked about the Matthews, N.C. native's status on Wednesday, Davis indicated that the senior running would be available "at times" due to a concentration on school work.

"One of the things that Ryan is focusing on – because he's got a chance to graduate next year – is that the NCAA makes you be academically eligible each semester," Davis said. "So we're allowing him a little bit of extra time [on academics], because the longer that you're here at Carolina and the closer you get to that degree, the courses get a little more difficult.

"He's not suspended and there's no kind of punishment or anything like that, but there's going to be some days that he may spend more time studying than he does on football."

** With the bulk of media attention focused on the nine returning defensive starters, junior defensive end Quinton Coples is quietly working to fill the void left by three-year starter E.J. Wilson on the left side. But while the measurables have never been an issue for the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder from Kinston, N.C., the mental side of the game is where his game must develop to insure that the Tar Heels field a dominant defensive line in the fall.

"He's got a terrific physique, he's a big, strong physical kid, [but] he's got to get to the point that he is just an absolute beast at the fundamentals, paying blocks, shedding blocks, getting off blocks, pursuing and not just relying on your God-give athletic ability," Davis said. "He's got to be able to start putting some of the pre-snap reads. What's the formation? What's the down-and-distance? What's the offensive line split? What are the things going on that could allow him to be more of a playmaker? I think that's where kids grow in the springtime."

** North Carolina is spreading its 15 practice opportunities over 26 days, culminating in the ESPN-televised spring game on April 10th. The players will mix in lifting and film study with class work on the off-days, but the coaching staff will take the extra time to break down every portion of practice in an attempt to spread the wealth across the roster.

Each position group session is meticulously charted so that each player receives an adequate number of repetitions.

"It really annoys me at the end of practice to look up and say, ‘You know what, gosh, Hunter Furr didn't get enough carries,' or ‘We didn't throw the ball enough to Erik Highsmith,'" Davis said.

** Intriguing quote of the day: "I think he's put himself in a position, if he'll continue to work hard and be hungry, he's got a chance to be one of the elite receivers in the country next year." – Davis on senior wide receiver Greg Little

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