UNC Football Position Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Matt SmithSenior Analyst IJuly 24, 2008

Besides Clemson, the UNC receiving core is probably the top group in the conference.

With Greg Little at running back this season, junior wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, senior wide receiver Brandon Tate, and sophomore tight end Zach Pianalto will probably see less balls thrown their way, but hopefully they can still keep up the success the stars had last season.


WR Hakeem Nicks

2007 Statistics

74 Receptions

958 Receiving Yards, 12.9 YPC

Five Receiving TDs

I'm only 20, so I haven't had the opportunity to see many great receivers in person, but Nicks is one of the most physically dominating players I have ever witnessed in college.

Let's face it—Carolina hasn't had much of a running game while he's been on campus.  Yet through all of the double teams and constant coverage he saw last season, Nicks caught a UNC-record 74 passes and racked up almost 1,000 yards receiving.

The preseason All-ACC receiver will continue to be one of the best to ever play in Chapel Hill with the help of some run support this season.

I expect at least another 850-900 yard season, with six to seven touchdowns, and a First Team All-ACC selection at the end of the 2008 season.


WR Brandon Tate

2007 Statistics

25 Receptions

479 Receiving Yards, 19.2 YPC

Five Receiving TDs

Besides Nicks, Tate was the most productive wide receiver UNC had last season.

Tate is Carolina's only other preseason All-ACC selection, for the Specialist team, but he's no slouch at catching passes either, averaging a gaudy 19.2 YPC in 2007 while hauling in five touchdowns.

With most of the attention focused on Nicks, Tate thrived in the deep pass attacks Yates employed last season before his shoulder injury.

Look for Tate to score any way he can against opposing teams, whether it be from a kickoff, a punt, or the long ball.


TE Zack Pianalto

2007 Statistics

24 Receptions

204 Receiving Yards, 8.5 YPC

0 Receiving TDs

Pianalto was a pleasant surprise for the Heels last season, starting as a true freshman.

With a year of experience, Pianalto should understand the schemes offensive coordinator John Shoop wants to employ, helping him become both a better receiver and blocker.

Along with the wide receivers, Pianalto should benefit from an improved running game, hopefully seeing the ball thrown his way on some play action passes in the red zone.


That's it for the offense.  In the next positional breakdown, I examine the defensive end position and the youth Head Coach Butch Davis has brought in to strengthen it.


Offensive Line
Running Backs