Oct 9, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels head coach  Mack Brown looks on from with quarterback Sam Howell (7) the sidelines against the Florida State Seminoles at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star Zach Rice, top OT in 2022, commits to UNC

Zach Rice, the top-ranked offensive tackle in the high school Class of 2022, committed to North Carolina on Thursday.

The five-star player from Lynchburg, Va., chose coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels out of a top five featuring Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia.

“The difference was obviously I want to play for a Hall of Fame head coach. Mack Brown is amazing,” Rice said during his announcement at an event at Liberty Christian Academy in Virginia. “We’re on the come up right now, I really believe that, and the only thing I can do is get better.”

Rice’s commitment makes North Carolina the only program in the country with commitments from two of the top 10 prospects in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Rice is rated the No. 9 overall prospect, and five-star defensive lineman Travis Shaw is No. 4 overall.

Rice is listed at 6-foot-6, 282 pounds.

“I will be a program-changer,” Rice said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz (right) congratulates quarterback D'Eriq King (1) after a touchdown pass against the Duke Blue Devils in the first quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Miami looks to stay hot vs. No. 17 North Carolina

The No. 10 Miami Hurricanes will go for their sixth straight win when they host the No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday.

Miami (8-1, 7-1 ACC) will try to avenge last year’s 28-25 loss at North Carolina. The Tar Heels (7-3, 6-3), who lost to No. 2 Notre Dame 31-17 on Nov. 27, will get another chance at a win over a top-10 team.

Miami, 4-0 at home this season, is a 3.5-point favorite. The Hurricanes beat Duke 48-0 last week despite having 15 players out due to injuries, coronavirus and other issues.

“There were five or six other players that we found out could play just one day before the game,” Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said. “We’re hoping the list of players out will be much shorter (than 15) this week.”

Despite missing five key defensive players against Duke — including full-time starters in cornerback Al Blades, linebacker Zach McCloud and defensive tackle Jonathan Ford — Miami forced five turnovers and missed just one tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.

Credit goes to numerous players, including Quincy Roche, who was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week after netting three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Defensive tackle Jordan Miller and linebacker Waynmon Steed made their first career collegiate starts.

For the season, Roche and fellow Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips are tied for third in the league in tackles for loss per game (1.56).

North Carolina, though, will be a much tougher test for Miami’s defense.

Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell, who beat Miami as a freshman last year, ranks ninth nationally and first in the ACC in passing yards per game (312.9).

North Carolina’s offense is second in the ACC in points (41.1), which is in stark contrast to the team Miami just played (Duke, 23.8 points, 13th place in the league).

The Tar Heels have three players who could go over 1,000 yards for the season on Saturday: running back Michael Carter (937), wide receiver Dyami Brown (932) and running back Javonte Williams (904).

Williams, a junior who leads the league and is tied for second nationally with 19 touchdowns, could bolt early for the NFL in April.

“We would never tell a junior, ‘We really want you to come back,’ ” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “Come on, man. That’s not fair to them.”

Carter ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing yards per game, third in total rushing yards and second in yards per carry (7.1). Williams is fifth, fourth and third in those carries, getting 6.7 yards per carry. Brown is second in reception yards per game.

Defensively, North Carolina isn’t nearly as good, ranking seventh in the league in points allowed (28.6).

Miami will test that defense with quarterback D’Eriq King, who ranks third in the ACC — behind only Howell and Clemson star Trevor Lawrence — in total offense (311.2 yards per game). King has passed for 2,334 yards and has run for 467, fulfilling his reputation as a dual threat.

Hurricanes receiver Mike Harley is ninth in the league in reception yards per game (72.6).

Miami’s other playmakers include stellar tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who have combined to catch 40 passes for 590 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

On the ground, the Hurricanes have three running backs who have combined for 1,031 yards: junior Cam’Ron Harris and freshmen Donald Chaney and Jaylan Knighton. Those three backs have combined to score 14 total touchdowns, including 12 rushing.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown looks on during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 North Carolina bids to rebound vs. No. 23 NC State

An annual matchup between North Carolina State and North Carolina always carries certain intrigue for the rivals.

This one, however, holds some extra zing.

For the first time in 27 years, both teams own spots in the national rankings when they meet. The clash comes Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“I think we’ve been overrated,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “I think they’ve been underrated.”

The No. 14 Tar Heels (3-1 overall, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are coming off a 31-28 setback at Florida State, and they went tumbling nine spots in the polls following the loss.

No. 23 North Carolina State (4-1, 4-1) has won three games in a row. It will be only the third time ever that both teams are rated at the time they meet.

“I know how big this game is to NC State, former players, boosters, alums, all those things,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “So I take a lot of pride in being able to deliver that to our fan base.”

North Carolina’s first setback of the season could serve as a wake-up call. Brown said there are important lessons coming from the result.

“We walked in a little cool and then got hit right in the mouth and had to stop that surge and then respond back in the second half,” Brown said. “That’s something that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to learn how to handle that.”

NC State is in another transition.

Quarterback Devin Leary, who suffered a broken leg in the third quarter of the Wolfpack’s 31-20 win over Duke, could miss the rest of the season following surgery. Bailey Hockman, who started the first two games of the season, is back in a starting role.

Hockman had mixed results last month in his starts, which came about after Leary missed considerable preseason practice time because of quarantine related to coronavirus contact tracing. Hockman sizzled in the beginning of the opening victory against Wake Forest, then fizzled fast the next week at Virginia Tech. He has thrown for three interceptions and two touchdowns this season.

“He needs to trust the protection when it’s there and give his receivers time to get open,” Doeren said. “If things break down, he needs to use his feet, because he can run.”

The Tar Heels, who allowed two Florida State players to rush for more than 100 yards, will have to be aware of NC State running backs Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight. Both players average more than 90 all-purpose yards per game.

North Carolina didn’t surrender a second-half point in the Florida State game. Cornerback Storm Duck will remain out for this week’s game with an injury.

NC State linebacker Payton Wilson, who’s coming off a 19-tackle, two-interception outing against Duke, initially committed to North Carolina before changing his mind. He’ll play for the first time at Kenan Stadium, which is in his home county.

“He’s going to continue to make more and more plays,” Doeren said. “One thing about Payton is he plays as hard as he can play.”

NC State had won three straight games in the series until North Carolina’s 41-10 romp last year. Still, the Wolfpack have prevailed in their past three trips to Chapel Hill.

The past six seasons, these teams met on the final weekend of the regular season, but the revised 2020 schedules put this collision earlier.

This is NC State’s fourth road assignment across a five-game stretch, but its next three contests are at home in Raleigh.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Javonte Williams (25) celebrates with wide receiver Dyami Brown (2) and tight end Garrett Walston (84) after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Seminoles survive rally to upset No. 5 North Carolina

Quarterback Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the first half and host Florida State held on to knock off No. 5 North Carolina 31-28 on Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, who was a Florida State commit before switching, nearly rallied the Tar Heels to the largest comeback victory in program history after the team faced two 24-point deficits.

North Carolina cut the margin to 31-28 on Howell’s 25-yard pass to Dyami Brown with 4:58 to play. The Tar Heels, with one timeout remaining, regained possession at their own 22 with 2:30 to play.

The Tar Heels reached the Florida State 41 before a failed fourth down on a dropped pass.

Travis ran for 107 yards and passed for 191. Running back La’Damian Webb gained 109 rushing yards on 12 carries.

The Tar Heels (3-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who put up 56 points on Virginia Tech a week earlier at home, didn’t score until 1:02 remained in the first half.

Howell finished 20-for-36 for 374 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Following Javonte Williams’ 1-yard run for North Carolina’s first points, the Seminoles went to work and hurried down the field and pushed the lead to 31-7 with Travis’ 12-yard touchdown pass to Camren McDonald with 17 seconds to play in the half.

The Seminoles (2-3, 1-3) didn’t score in the second half, missing a pair of field goals — including after moving inside the North Carolina 5-yard line on the first possession of the third quarter. The second miss came with 6:40 remaining to end a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes.

Howell threw third-quarter touchdown passes to Williams (for 38 yards) and Beau Corrales (for 33 yards).

Florida State scored on its first snap on Travis’ 23-yard run following a blocked punt, marking the first time the Tar Heels trailed this season. After settling for a field goal early in the second quarter, Travis reached the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.

Then the Seminoles stretched the lead to 24-0 when Joshua Kaindoh turned his first career interception into points on a 25-yard return.

Florida State, whose only previous victory came against Jacksonville State, was coming off a road loss to then-No. 5 Notre Dame a week earlier.

North Carolina’s Mack Brown fell to 0-10 in games as coach against his alma mater (0-3 with Tulane, 0-7 with North Carolina).

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2018; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Pitt Panthers receiver Maurice Ffrench (2) runs the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels safety D.J. Ford defends during the second half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels won  38-35. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Trio of DBs opt out at North Carolina

Three North Carolina defensive backs will sit out the 2020 football season amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The school confirmed Friday to The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., that D.J. Ford, Bryce Watts and Javon Terry will skip the season, leaving the Tar Heels lacking depth at the position.

Their move follows that of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Triston Miller, who on Thursday opted out for “personal reasons,” per the newspaper.

Ford, a senior, appeared in all 13 games and made seven starts at defensive back in 2019. He recorded 54 tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, three hurries, two breakups, one fumble recovery and one interception. He was expected to contend for a starting role at safety.

Terry, a sophomore, saw limited action in all 13 games, making four tackles, including one for loss, and adding a sack.

Watts, a junior, has yet to play for the Tar Heels. He transferred from Virginia Tech and sat out the 2019 season under NCAA transfer rules.

In the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday, North Carolina was ranked No. 19.

The Tar Heels are scheduled to host Syracuse on Sept. 12 to open the season.

–Field Level Media

2015 College Football Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

Throughout the remaining months until the start of the college football season, I will be highlighting teams that have caught my eye and give my outlook on how I feel they will do this upcoming season. I will be starting off with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Every year, the Tar Heels are predicted to be the winner of the ACC, and every year, it seems they fall well short. Last season, UNC finished the season with a 6-7 record (4-4 in conference). They then were defeated quite soundly by Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. The humiliation continued as not a single player from their team was at the NFL Combine, nor were any of their players drafted. Let’s see how this team is shaping entering the 2015 season.

  1. Sept. 3rd–South Carolina (Neutral game at Charlotte)
  2. Sept. 12th–North Carolina A&T
  3. Sept. 19th–Illinois
  4. Sept. 26th–Delaware
  5. Oct. 3rd–at Georgia Tech
  6. BYE
  7. Oct. 17th–Wake Forest
  8. Oct. 24th–Virginia
  9. Oct. 29th–at Pittsburgh (Thursday)
  10. Nov. 7th–Duke
  11. Nov. 14th–Miami (FL)
  12. Nov. 21st–at Virginia Tech
  13. Nov. 28th–at NC State

Offense:
Last season, the rushing game for the Tar Heels wasn’t exactly the best. Senior QB Marquise Williams led the team in rushing with 783 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. As of now it looks as if RB T.J. Logan will be the main back for UNC this season. He had a below average season with close to 600 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. In the passing game, Marquise Williams had a great season throwing for over 3,000 yards and a low TD/ INT ratio. The best news for Williams is that WRs Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins are going to be there to catch passes. The junior receiver Switzer is a consistent pass catcher who is going to be someone to watch heading into next year’s draft. The offensive line is returning with eight players who have experience, and they will, without a doubt, hope to open some better running lanes up and reduce the high sack total they allowed last season (26 sacks). The best news about the O-Line squad is that pretty much all of them have experience on the line, which provides great depth for UNC. It must be a comfortable situation for the Heels, knowing that if one of their big guys goes down, they can replace him and not skip a beat.
Defense:
The defense for the Heels struggled greatly last season, giving up on average 497.8 yards per game (which ranked 9th worst in the NCAA) and also allowing around 39 points per game. The front seven are going through some changes in the off-season, as DC Gene Chizik is switching from a 4-2-5 defense to a 4-3. This change is causing some position changes for players. Something has to be done to slow down the rushing attack, as UNC gave up on average 240.5 rushing yards per game last year (ranked 120th in the NCAA). In order to get this high average down, they will be relying heavily on a sophomore D-Tackle named Nazair Jones to keep the holes plugged up. Two senior linebackers, Shakeel Rashad and Jeff Schoettmer, also will be providing some great leadership to this defense. The pass protection for UNC was rough the first part of the season, but they improved throughout the season. In their final seven games, they were able to hold each opponent to under 300 yards passing. This season, they have an even more experienced squad and should be more consistent through the whole entire year.
2015 Outlook:
Strength of Schedule Rating: 4 out of 10
Schedule wise for the Heels, it is a fairly soft schedule. They avoid the major powerhouses like Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State. The only truly tough games on the schedule are a neutral site game against South Carolina, which will be held in Charlotte, NC, and a road game against Georgia Tech. To me, there are no excuses for a bad season from the Heels. The schedule seems to be pointing in their favor, and their roster has matured greatly from last season. However, I don’t feel they will be conference champs or even the ACC Coastal Division Champs. The Coastal Division is very competitive and there are better teams than UNC. A bowl game should definitely be in their future, and they should probably finish the season with a winning record.
Three 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch:
#12 QB, Marquise Williams, Senior—6’2”, 220 lbs
#3 WR, Ryan Switzer, Junior—5’10”, 180 lbs
#10 LB, Jeff Schoettmer, Senior-6’2”, 235 lbs