The annual Spring Lettermen’s Reunion will be held this weekend with golf and dinner on Friday and the Blue-White Game on Saturday.
The Morris Mason Golf Tournament will be held at Finley Golf Course Friday morning. The driving range is open at 8:30 and the shotgun start is set for 10 a.m.
The evening function will begin at 6 p.m. that night with a social on the fifth floor of the Kenan Football Center, followed by dinner at 6:30. Coach Larry Fedora and his coaching staff will be among the guests for dinner.
The Tar Heels will conclude spring practice at 3 p.m. Saturday with a scrimmage at Fetzer Field. The field at Kenan Stadium is undergoing construction so it’s unavailable, thus the move to Fetzer. A Fan Fest will start at 1:30 p.m. and remain open during the game. It will include food trucks, interactive games for the kids, Chapel Hill Sportswear with all the latest Carolina gear and live music.
Kenan is unavailable because as soon as construction starts on the new Indoor Football Facility on the current site of Navy Field and Henry Stadium later this spring, the football team will use Kenan for conditioning and practice. The playing surface will remain grass, but the surrounding areas are being replaced with Field Turf. The hedges, fence and tarmac have all been removed.
The team on display Saturday is certainly one in transition as the offense has been hit with significant graduation and NFL defection losses, and the defense has three new assistant coaches. John Papuchis, the linebackers coach the last two years, is now the coordinator and is working with a new staff comprised of line coach Deke Adams, linebackers coach Mike Ekeler and secondary coach Terry Joseph.
It’s been a relatively smooth transition on defense, though, as Adams was at Carolina in Fedora’s first year of 2012, and Papuchis, Ekeler and Joseph worked together at LSU in 2006. Ekeler in 2016 was defensive coordinator at North Texas State, and Joseph was secondary coach at Texas A&M. Adams has been at South Carolina and then East Carolina the last four years.
“The opportunity to work with one of your best friends and a quality head coach, it was an easy call,” Joseph says of the move to Chapel Hill. “I liked the family atmosphere here. JP told me the players here work their tails off and try to do what you want. He said we had some talent in the secondary. Then I watched Clemson win the national championship and said, ‘Why not do that at North Carolina?’”
The opening of spring ball was marked by the current team beginning practice while watching from a distance as Mitch Trubisky and a handful of departing players worked out at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“Having all those guys at the combine gives the younger guys inspiration of where we want to get to next year and years after that,” said senior cornerback M.J. Stewart, who flirted with the idea of joining Trubisky, Elijah Hood and Nazair Jones in forfeiting his final year of college eligibility.
“It’s great for recruiting for kids to see all of our guys getting that opportunity,” offensive coordinator and line coach Chris Kapilovic added. “We’ve had a lot of fun with Twitter and those kind of things, getting our name out there and building our brand.”