Charlotte, N.C. - North Carolina players, coaches and staff arrived in Charlotte Monday to begin preparations for the 2013 Belk Bowl. The Tar Heels convened in the Queen City before 3 p.m, checking into team headquarters at The Westin Hotel.
"Our guys had a good week of practice and then went home for a few days off before coming to Charlotte," said second-year head coach Larry Fedora. "I'm sure they'll have a good time while they are here, but they know we're here on a business trip and we have a difficult opponent in Cincinnati."
But before the business began, Carolina headed out to the Southpark Mall for the first of many bowl game rewards - a $450 shopping spree at Belk.
"My family is going to have a Belk Christmas," said sophomore wide receiver Quinshad Davis.
"I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to get something for all the women in my life - my mom, my sister and my aunt," said standout defensive end Kareem Martin. "This is a fun experience and I'm glad we could celebrate with our teammates and our families one more time."
While some players perused Belk's lates fashion items, others had their picture taken with the Belk Bowl trophy and chatted with fans who came to meet and greet the Tar Heels.
Carolina returns to the practice field Tuesday, but not before one more off-the-field event in Concord, N.C. Every player and staff member will have the opportunity to ride in a race car at Charlotte Motor Speedway with speeds topping off at 170 mph. This unique, one-of-a-kind experience is something previous players have named as one of the top bowl events.
Following a lunch in the NASCAR garage, Carolina will make the short trip to Mallard Creek High School for practice at 1:30 pm. Practice was moved to Mallard Creek, which has field turf, due to the heavy rains in Charlotte over the last two days. Interestingly, Carolina begain the 2013 season at Mallard Creek with a practice at the high school in March. Mallard Creek is also where starting quarterback Marquise Williams and defensive back Brian Walker played prep football.