By Megan Walsh, Athletic Communications
As spring practice continued for the North Carolina football team Wednesday, the Tar Heels are still looking for their leaders.
After the departures of key playmakers and vocal leaders like Jonathan Cooper, Sylvester Williams, Kevin Reddick and Giovani Bernard, UNC is filling holes in multiple positions, all the while looking for its voice for next season.
But head coach Larry Fedora is hopeful considering the situation.
"I worry about it every year on both sides of the ball," Fedora said. "At this time of the year with winter conditioning, spring ball and through the summer, that's where your leaders are going to emerge. ... You look for times of adversity for when those guys are really going to step up.
"Everybody can do it in the meeting room, but it's when things aren't going right, who's going to step up at that point? That's when your true leaders emerge."
On the defensive side of the ball, Tim Jackson, Kareem Martin and Tre Boston are the most experienced. Fedora said Jackson has stepped up the most at this point, which is exactly what Fedora needs him to do.
Senior quarterback Bryn Renner added that along with key players commanding the younger unit, the defense looks fast.
"The guys made a lot of adjustments as far as the offseason and those guys are moving around a lot quicker, just knowing where to go and where to be," Renner said. "The defense looks great right now."
That emphasis on speed also carries over into Renner's goals for the season. Renner hopes to shave seconds everywhere he can in Carolina's pursuit of a quicker pace on offense. That means even calling plays faster can make a difference.
Sophomore Shakeel Rashad added that the same style of play has also carried over into his own position at bandit. After widespread improvements, the team is looking forward to scrimmaging Charlotte on Thursday, March 28th.
"We're what two, three weeks in and you can tell a huge difference from last year, especially in the bandit position," Rashad said. "Everyone's getting older, stronger, faster, more comfortable with the schemes. Now we're ready to go out and play and make plays."
In the controlled scrimmage Fedora will pinpoint specific areas of the game the Tar Heels are looking to develop. But compared to a year ago Fedora has already seen major strides across the board.
"Everybody understands what we're doing," Fedora said. "Now it's mastering your craft. It's perfecting what you do and not just trying to learn what to do."