And I thought the things were bad when only two players were being investigated for questionable relations with agents. No one outside the football program could have envisioned what would transpire over the last two weeks.
The tumultuous summer of Tar Heel football added academic misconduct to the list on August 26 when AD Dick Baddour and Chancellor Holden Thorp joined Coach Butch Davis in a press conference to report an ongoing internal investigation into a significant group of players’ relations with a former university tutor.
Yesterday, only a day before the season opener, the public found out exactly who was involved and would not play against LSU tonight at 8pm. The list is as follows:
Ineligible - DT Marvin Austin, CB Kendric Burney, CB Charles Brown, DE Michael McAdoo, DE Robert Quinn.
Withheld - RB Shaun Draughn, RB Ryan Houston, S Da’Norris Searcy, S Jonathan Smith, S Brian Gupton, DE Linwan Euwall, S Deunta Williams.
As best I can tell, the players listed as ineligible obviously committed an act in violation of the NCAA regulations and will likely face suspensions longer than the first game. Those being withheld by the university may later be found to be eligible, but the university is not willing to risk the sanctity of the game tonight. If any ineligible player were to play in the game, the result would have to be forfeited and the program may face other charges.
Late Friday night, linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant were cleared to play after watching the eligible portion of the team leave for Atlanta around 9:30 am Friday. Questions surrounding the two players had not been answered prior to the team’s departure. They will join the team and play Saturday night.
Now, the question becomes, who will play against LSU?
Excluding the two running backs and Greg Little, the much-maligned offense remains intact. However, youth, inexperience, and a lack of continuity last year were the main reasons for the unit’s disappointing performance.
The offensive line made significant upgrades in the offseason and runs two-deep. Johnny White, a fifth-year senior, will start at running back. Sophomore running back Hunter Furr has been commended by Coach Davis for his offseason work, and senior back Anthony Elzy may be called upon to take some carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, the entire linebacking corps, which runs at least six deep, will be ready to play, but the D-line and secondary will be showing the most new faces.
Junior Quinton Coples will be called upon to lead the D-line. He had been taking first-team snaps this summer in place of Marvin Austin with the expectation that Austin would not play. Coples will likely line up on both the edge and interior of the line during the course of the game.
Coples will be joined by sophomore defenseive end Donte Paige-Moss. Paige-Moss was rated in the top 10 defensive ends by all major recruit rating services in 2009, but has seen limited time behind EJ Wilson, Robert Quinn, and Michael McAdoo. He will get his chance to shine tonight.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson has the chance to put on a show against UNC’s secondary—missing all four starters. Sophomore Gene Robinson will likely fill one of the starting safety positions. In limited action last year, he picked off a pass against Georgia Southern. He is a physical presence that will be needed against LSU’s big receivers, Toliver and Randle —6’5” and 6’4”, respectively.
Obviously, the football team is not as good without eight projected starters, but those guys need to face the consequences of their actions. However, Robert Smith on ESPN said this week that, “All the other guys were recruited to play football at UNC too.” Some of them will play sooner than they thought, but after turning in nationally ranked recruiting classes each of the last two year, the players have the talent. Let’s see what they can do.
Other Tar Heels you may not know:
· Matt Merletti No. 25 Jr. S
Will likely start, special teams captain in 2008, suffered season-ending knee injury last year in camp and received redshirt.
- Mywan Jackson No. 7 So CB
Will likely start, starred in spring game with two interceptions.
· Jared McAdoo No. 97 RS Fr. DT
A Chapel Hill native, will be a part of the defensive tackle rotation.
· Sean Tapley No. 85 and Reggie Wilkins No. 81 Fr. WRs
Will likely help in the return game.