Home Grown

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The excitement is beginning to build for UNC fans as the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game approaches on Sept. 4. The staff mentions it on occasion, there's an undercurrent on the team about it, but for Da'Norris Searcy, this event means something a little different – homecoming.

"The only thing I keep thinking about this first game is about my hometown," Searcy said on Friday. "I am from Atlanta, from Decatur actually, which is like five minutes outside of Atlanta, that's fun for me. Thirty of my relatives have already got their tickets."

The senior strong safety may be looking to prove something to the folks in his hometown, and also looking to prove something to North Carolina fans against LSU.

Searcy is almost the forgotten man in the UNC secondary. Safety Deunta Williams and cornerback Kendric Burney were first team All-ACC selections. Mel Kiper has Charles Brown as his No. 6 corner in the 2011 draft. So do the accolades his fellow defensive backs receive bother this fourth-year senior?

"Nah, I don't like the spotlight too much," Searcy said. "I just go out there and do my job, and come off the field with my head held high, knowing I fulfilled all of my responsibilities."

That work ethic has put Searcy at the top of strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors' list of players to watch in 2010.

"Personally, I am looking for Da'Norris Searcy to step up, because he's a guy that's done everything right the entire time he's been here," Connors told IC earlier this month. "He's got very good numbers, we can look at some of the other guys who've been targeted for leadership on this football team and I think he's a guy that could help us from that standpoint. He's not afraid to be vocal, and I am looking for him to make an impact."

It is that consistency that both Connors and Searcy believe will pay dividends in his final season.

"Every time I go into the weight room I put a lot of effort towards getting bigger, stronger, and faster," Searcy said. "Going into this off-season, it wasn't any different. I just kept it consistent, kept building, and I made a lot of improvements. I got the squat record (for defensive backs), and I broke the total overall record for defensive backs."

With every single member of the secondary playing out their final year of eligibility, Searcy and the other seniors feel a need to leave a legacy that the younger players can build on.

"We are working on building depth," Searcy said. "We are all seniors, this is going to be our last go-around, so we are just making sure they (the underclassmen) grow as players and as people, and that they understand the game more so that when our time ends, there won't be any let up. When we leave, we don't want any drop off. "

Playing across from North Carolina's offense, Searcy has seen some changes in how the other side of the ball is competing in fall camp.

"The offensive line is making some nice creases to run through, and they are making us work," Searcy said. "We push them to be better and they push us to be better. When you've got back-and-forth competition, the team gets better and the team grows.

"Dwight Jones is looking good, Jhay Boyd is looking good, and Todd Harrelson is looking good. They've been making some nice catches, and running some good routes. By having a year up under them, they know a little bit more, and they are making improvements, making strides and getting better."

If Searcy has anything to do with it, all the Tar Heels will look good in Atlanta – after all, he wants to look good in his hometown.

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