It’s been a busy month and a half since the Tar Heels dispatched Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. Coach Larry Fedora and his staff signed an outstanding group of 22 new recruits; three new staff members have moved to Chapel Hill; and the Carolina squad is embarking on its annual rite of “Blue Dawn” workouts on Feb. 17 as a lead into spring practice in early March.
The Tar Heels will gather at 6 a.m. Monday for a strength, conditioning and endurance workout led by head coach Larry Fedora and strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez. The workouts bridge the winter conditioning program and spring ball, set to begin on Wednesday, March 5. Players will sprint, push, pull, carry, throw, crawl and compete in various group competitions—all designed to measure their toughness and resolve.
After each Blue Dawn workouts, every player is graded with a thumbs-up/thumbs-down from each member of the staff, and the failure to reach a certain threshold means the player wears a red jersey for the next workout.
“There is no place to hide, every day you are writing your resume,” Fedora says. “Everybody on that team knows what you did the day before and what your commitment to the team’s goals was. I tell them if you don’t like what you’re wearing, then change it.”
Joining the coaching staff at spring ball will be new offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Seth Littrell, new running backs coach Larry Porter and new quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf.
Littrell and Porter come to Carolina with extensive resumes. Littrell played on Oklahoma’s 1998 national title team and has coached at Texas Tech, Arizona and Indiana. Porter played at Memphis State, was head coach there for two years and most recently was on Mack Brown’s staff at Texas. Both are known as outstanding recruiters in addition to being excellent position coaches.
Heckendorf had been a quality control assistant the last two years at Carolina and left for six weeks to join Blake Anderson’s staff at Arkansas State before returning to Chapel Hill. He coached three years at Nebraska, then was QB coach/offensive coordinator at Western Carolina from 2008-10.
Five new freshmen will take the field for spring ball after having enrolled in January: running back Elijah Hood, OT Bentley Spain, TE Brandon Fritts, CB M.J. Stewart and S Allen Artis. They are joined by 17 more high school seniors signed to Carolina on Feb. 5.
“This is an exceptional class,” Fedora says. “It’s awesome, it’s exciting, it’s great. We focused on speed, on athleticism, on academic achievement, on character. I think we got all of those things in this class.”
The Tar Heels will practice three times a week with one week off for spring break through their annual Blue-White scrimmage April 12. That is the weekend of the Spring Lettermen’s Reunion, with golf Friday at Governors Club, dinner Friday night and a midday barbecue on Saturday.
If you have not received information on the reunion, please call Teresa Vanderford in the UNC Football Office at 919/962-9144.