Nine former Tar Heels remain active as the NFL playoffs ramp into high gear the second weekend of January.
Ten new Tar Heels enrolled for the spring semester this week in Chapel Hill and began conditioning workouts.
Head coach Larry Fedora is in the thick of retooling his defensive coaching staff, with coordinator Vic Koenning gone and reports pointing to the eventual hiring of ex-Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as his replacement.
And Pat Crowley, a former Tar Heel offensive lineman, at the midpoint of a successful financial industry career has taken on a moonlighting job as the head football coach at R.J. Reynolds High in Winston-Salem.
The college football season might be over, but there’s plenty of activity in and around the world of Tar Heel football early in the New Year.
“A fresh start feels good,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said on his Twitter account last week.
“Anybody committed or planning on enrolling early to UNC come ready to work. We have something to prove,” linebacker Cayson Collins added.
In the aftermath of the Tar Heels’ 40-21 loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl Dec. 26, receiver Ryan Switzer said his class, the rising junior class and the first full signing class under head coach Larry Fedora, was ready to assume the leadership mantle of the program going forward.
“We met as a class before the bowl and with the younger guys and talked,” Switzer said. “A lot of guys could have gone anywhere in the country, could have gone to programs that were already established. But we wanted to come here. We knew the challenge when we came here. We knew what it was going to take.
“Coach Fedora was honest with us. He told us our class would be the foundation for what he was trying to do here. We knew we were going to take some hits. We just have to keep fighting. We came here for a reason, we came to turn this program around. It hasn’t happened yet. But I one hundred percent believe in what Coach Fedora is doing here that’s why I’m here.”
Thus it will be a busy off-season for the players in the weight room, on the field for their February “Blue Dawn” conditioning drills and then onto spring practice in March.
“We have to find a way to be more competitive,” linebacker Jeff Schoettmer says. “That’s the one thing I’d say in the off-season we have to work on. Whatever drill it is, seven-on-seven, a sprint, weight room, whatever, we have to compete in everything we do. I think that hurt us at times.”
Standout receiver Quinshad Davis suffered a broken leg in final stretches of the bowl game. He was going to have surgery in early January before that injury to repair stress fractures in both legs, so the surgery was moved up to Dec. 27. He is making a good recovery and hopes to be full speed by late spring/early summer.