Thursday, March 2 - DeAndre Smith Hired As Running Backs Coach
DeAndre Smith, who played collegiately at Southwest Missouri State with UNC offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic, was hired as UNC's running backs coach Thursday. Smith comes to Chapel Hill from UNLV where he had spent the last three months as the Rebels’ running backs coach. He served as Purdue’s running backs coach in 2016.
Tuesday, Feb. 28 - Tar Heels Open Spring Practice
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina spring football practice began Tuesday under warm temperatures at Navy field, a marked difference from the previous two seasons when cold weather and occasionally snow and ice were on the ground.
The weather was just one of many differences from last spring as the Tar Heels took to the field with several new faces set to take over major roles. Gone are seasoned veterans and offensive record-breakers Ryan Switzer, Mitch Trubisky, T.J. Logan, Elijah Hood, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins. Those six players, plus DT Nazair Jones, are set to compete at the 2017 NFL Combine this weekend where UNC ranks 13th in the nation with seven players. Also missing are long-time starters Jon Heck (OT), Lucas Crowley (C), Caleb Peterson (OG), Des Lawrence (CB), Dominquie Green (S) and Mike Bart (DE), many of whom will be taking part in UNC's Pro Timing Day on March 21.
Set to compete for starting roles this spring are running backs Jordon Brown, a sophomore from Durham, and Michael Carter, a freshman who enrolled in January. At quarterback, Nathan Elliott has the most experience with just nine pass attempts to his credit. He took the field with the No. 1 offense, while redshirt freshmen Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd also received equal reps. At wide receiver, Austin Proehl, Thomas Jackson, Jordan Cunningham and Anthony Ratliff-Williams will have to step up. Josh Cabrera, Rontavius Groves, Devin Perry, Juval Mollette have been in the program for at least a year and are joined by January enrollee T.J. Cauthen.
On the offensive line, Bentley Spain anchors a line that returns Tommy Hatton and R.J. Prince at guard. On Tuesday, Hatton took the majority of snaps at center where the Tar Heels have no experience returning. William Sweet, who had one start in 2016, has an opportunity to become the full-time starter at right guard.
In the coaching ranks, John Papuchis assumed control at defensive coordinator replacing Gene Chizik and was joined by new staff members Deke Adams (defensive line), Mike Ekeler (linebackers) and Terry Joseph (defensive backs). That quartet inherits an experienced defensive squad that includes seasoned veterans like Donnie Miles (S), M.J. Stewart (CB), Andre Smith (LB) and Cayson Collins (LB). DT Aaron Crawford, DE Malik Carney and LB Cole Holcomb also return after a year of starting experience.
Per NCAA rules, North Carolina is allowed 15 practices in the spring. The Tar Heels will practice on March 2, 3, 7, 9, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and April 1, 4, 6, 7. The spring game is set for April 8 at 3 p.m. in Chapel Hill.