Fifteen seniors plus fourth-year junior walk-on Kemmi Pettway will take the field at Kenan Stadium for the last time at Noon Friday when the Tar Heels entertain N.C. State. Carolina is 3-1 against N.C. State since Larry Fedora arrived as head coach in 2012, and as he looks across his 2013 freshman class that has shepherded the program to a 19-6 record the last two years, he feels a sense of gratitude and satisfaction.
“This senior class has done some special things,” Fedora said Monday. “When we were recruiting them, there was a lot of negativity surrounding the program in every aspect. But when we went into their homes and schools, they believed and bought into what we were telling them. They wanted to help us change things, and they have. They’re pretty special.”
Three seniors have had their final years cut short by injury—offensive linemen Caleb Peterson and John Ferranto and receiver Mack Hollins. But most of the hold-overs from the 2012 class as fifth-year guys and the others who played as freshmen in 2013 have left major marks on the program.
Tailback T.J. Logan and receiver Ryan Switzer are all over the record books. Receiver Bug Howard has been a steady go-to guy over the middle as well as a deep threat. Lucas Crowley has been a rock at center. Des Lawrence has improved every season at cornerback, and Mikey Bart has been tough and durable at defensive end. Those among many others.
“Each of them has grown into becoming a man,” Fedora said. “What they have learned over four years and the adversity they’ve had to deal with will leave them prepared, prepared to make their way in the world, prepared for life after football.”
Junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who has blossomed in his first year as a starter, was asked if he planned to take part in Senior Day festivities and eschew his senior year of eligibility for the NFL Draft. Trubisky came in with the 2013 signing class but was red-shirted in 2013.
“I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “I’m thinking about the last home game for the seniors. I’ve given that no consideration. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do, but that’s a decision for later. Right now, the only focus is on beating N.C. State.”