Tag:Everett Withers
Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:22 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 24)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. After stealing headlines in Week 3, the ACC (and future ACC) struggled in Week 4. A week ago, I was writing praises for commissioner John Swofford for taking action to ensure the ACC had a place in the uncertain future landscape of college football. The ACC was gathering praise for their off-field transactions and on-field victories over Auburn and Ohio State. In a fashion typical of this fluid college football world we live in - things have changed in seven days. Florida State was so beaten emotionally and banged up physically after their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma they could not play to their potential against Clemson in Death Valley. Maryland got embarrassed 38-7 by Temple at home, Virginia lost to Southern Miss at home, and Miami followed their defeat of the Buckeyes with a home loss to Kansas State.

Making the perception even worse, incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse both embarrassed the conference on Saturday. The Panthers could not muster a single fourth quarter score in their 15-12 loss to Notre Dame at home while Syracuse beat Toledo in an overtime that should have never happened. The week wasn't all bad - the games certainly revealed new legitimate conference contenders in Atlanta and Death Valley - but in comparison to the praises showered on the conference a week ago this was a pretty weak encore.

2. Georgia Tech ready to challenge Virginia Tech for Coastal Division. After gaudy victories against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee, we were intrigued by Georgia Tech. After decisive victories against Kansas and a talented North Carolina team, we know Paul Johnson's team is back and ready to compete for an ACC title. When Josh Nesbitt broke his arm last season, Tevin Washington took over and the offense struggled to maintain the level of production due to a rough adjustment period and an unhealthy habit of turning the ball over. The changes in the offense which the coaching staff has discussed all offseason have been clearly visible in the Yellow Jackets' 4-0 start. Not only is the triple option sharper with less turnovers, but Tevin Washington has gotten comfortable throwing the ball as well. With the physical Stephen Hill as his favorite target, Washington actually leads the nation in passing plays of more than 50 yards.

The Yellow Jackets dominated the Tar Heels on Saturday, much more than the 35-28 victory would suggest. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has not faced any opponents of note for comparison and has not looked particularly impressive offensively. While the Hokies defense seems to have found their grit back, holding teams basically no yards on the ground, Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson are still getting used to their new full-time starting positions. Virginia Tech is still the favorite to win the division thanks to a favorable draw, but the Yellow Jackets are right up there with a more convincing resume at this point for the strongest team in the Coastal Division.

3. Clemson's win does not put them in the driver's seat yet. Clemson's victory over Florida State in Death Valley was reaffirming. It was reaffirming to Dabo Swinney that his efforts to recruit players like sophomore Tajh Boyd and freshman Sammy Watkins would pay off for the program. It was reaffirming to offensive coordinator Chad Morris that his newly installed system could roll against the best defensive units in the nation when executed properly. It was reaffirming to a fan base who doubted their team's ability to beat two ranked opponents in a row, that the 2011 Tigers could compete for an ACC title.

But this "driver's seat" talk that is being tossed around? That's a little much.

Two wins over ranked opponents do not automatically erase several seasons of inconsistency within Clemson football in recent history. A 1-0 conference record with a win over Atlantic Division favorite Florida State does not pencil you in to the ACC Championship Game, but it does eliminate one of the most difficult obstacles on the schedule.

The Tigers faced Florida State at THE most opportune time. EJ Manuel out with a shoulder strain. Greg Reid and Bert Reed both out with injuries. The entire team coming down after losing the biggest game of the regular season 23-13 on the biggest stage. But those intangibles are not the sole reason the Tigers put up 455 yards of total offense on Florida State, in fact they are likely a small fraction. The Clemson defense, which has received very little attention so far this season, dropped back against a suddenly one-dimensional Florida State offense while the front four applied pressure to redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett. They were able to come up with just enough stops to secure the 35-30 win and set up the Tigers with an incredible opportunity to jump ahead in the ACC Atlantic Division race.

Are the Tigers in the "driver's seat?" No. But if they can do it again at Virginia Tech, we might have a different conversation on our hands.

4. Jury is still out on Miami and Maryland. Maybe it is because they played a memorable season opener against each other on Labor Day, but Miami and Maryland both have started the season in different yet equally confusing fashions. Miami bounced back from the loss to the Terps with a defensive showcase against Ohio State with four of their suspended players back in the lineup. Maryland has come back from making headlines with the Miami win and shockingly memorable jerseys with two straight losses to West Virginia and Temple. As we saw on Saturday night, West Virginia is a formidable opponent and far from an embarrassing loss. Temple, on the other hand, should be a cause for concern for Terps' fans.

Additionally, Miami's win over Ohio State was supposed to be a signature win for Al Golden and this new attitude in the Miami football program. But the defense that looked so sharp against Ohio State gave up 265 rushing yards to the Wildcats, and forced the Hurricanes offense to scramble just to get back in the game. On paper both of these teams should be among the best in the conference. But their performances have been inconsistent and difficult to interpret, making it tough for any fan to judge exactly how good these teams could be come November.

5. Gio Bernard is ready to be the feature back in Chapel Hill. Entering the season, it was expected that redshirt senior Ryan Houston would be the starting running back. A big bruiser with an ability to withstand the first and second hit, Houston was going to be featured with sophomore Giovani Bernard as the change-of-pace back. It only took two games before interim coach Everett Withers started splitting the workload more evenly, and when the Tar Heels faced Georgia Tech in their first road test of the season it was Bernard who was the featured running back in the offense.

The 5-foot-10 shifty back from Florida answered the call with an impressive performance that basically kept the Tar Heels competitive for our quarters against the high powered Georgia Tech offense. Bernard rushed 17 times for a career high 155 yard and two touchdowns. He was also a threat in the screen game, with 5 receptions for 47 yards. As sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has become more conservative against tougher defenses, Bernard's role has increased. If he can replicate Saturday's performance on a weekly basis, it would make life much easier for the first-year starter under center.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 3:37 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 25 Georgia Tech 35, UNC 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WON. The Yellow Jackets outlasted a relentless North Carolina squad, using their high powered option offense to pull away with a 35-28 win over the Tar Heels in Atlanta. Stephen Hill broke loose for 151 yards receiving while six different Yellow Jacket rushers combined for 311 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech is off to their first 4-0 start since 1990, when the Jackets went on to claim the national championship.

HOW GEORGIA TECH WON: After giving up a touchdown on the game's opening drive, Georgia Tech's defense toughed up and picked off North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner twice to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead. Once again Georgia Tech's offense was impressive, totaling 495 total yards of offense. Orwin Smith, Tevin Washington, and David Sims all contributed more than 70 yards rushing and Roddy Jones delivered the fourth quarter killstroke to set up the winning touchdown.

WHEN GEORGIA TECH WON: After Giovani Bernard stepped with a momentum-swinging 55-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28, senior running back Roddy Jones took a pitch 48 yards down the sideline to set up first and goal for the Yellow Jackets. Tevin Washington then punched in the touchdown to put Georgia Tech ahead 35-28.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH WON: Georgia Tech's impressive victories thus far this season have come with an asterisk because of the competition. But Saturday's performance against a stout North Carolina front seven proves that this offense can roll against the beset in the conference. Georgia Tech picks up a crucial Coastal Division win, and the folks in Blacksburg should take note. There is another contender for that division crown.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: The Tar Heels came very close to picking up that treasured 4-0 start as well. Giovani Bernard put together an incredible performance, and the defense did their best to bend and not break in the first half. Ultimately this loss will not be terrible, and I imagine they will learn from this experience, but it could have been a signature win for this team and first-year coach Everett Withers. The key here will be turning this loss into a learning experience before the Tar Heels have to travel to Greenville to face East Carolina under the lights next Saturday.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Tevin Washington entered the game as the nation's leader in pass plays of 50+ yards and long touchdowns. He added one to both counts with his 59 yard touchdown to Stephen Hill in the second quarter. With Georgia Tech's offense usually being around 75% rushing plays, Washington is not the first name that comes to mind for such an accolade.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:04 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 3

Posted by Chip Patterson

The new polls were released on Sunday, and the ACC was able to capitalize on an impressive non-conference performance by adding to their poll presence. Florida State fell from the top ten after their primetime loss to Oklahoma, but big wins for Clemson and Georgia Tech paid off in national rankings.

Florida State (AP: 11/Coaches: 14) - The Seminoles certainly had a chance to jump into national-title contender status, but the home loss to the top-ranked Sooners has dropped FSU from current consideration. Virginia Tech (AP: 13/Coaches: 11) - The Hokies jumped out to a big lead early on Arkansas State, and cruised in the second half to a 26-7 win. Virginia Tech's string of non-ranked opponents will continue this week, with a trip west to face Marshall. Once conference play starts, the Hokies will begin to face opponents that could raise their stock in the polls or reveal a team unworthy of their ranking. How the voters perceive the currently undefeated Hokies could change after hosting Clemson, Miami, and a road trip to a revived Wake Forest team.

Clemson (AP: 21/Coaches: 22) - The Tigers hit their stride at just the right time with their upset over Auburn in Death Valley. The game was a coming of age for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd and an arrival party for star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Clemson's celebration will be short-lived, as head coach Dabo Swinney prepares the Tigers for a crucial Atlantic Division showdown with Florida State on Saturday.

Georgia Tech (AP: 25/Coaches: 24) - Those who have doubted Georgia Tech's offense bit their tongues on Saturday when the Yellow Jackets piled up 604 rushing yards against Kansas. The 12.1 yards per carry was an NCAA record (minimum 50 carries) and the defense is starting to look comfortable year two under coordinator Al Groh. The Yellow Jackets are happy to break through, and will get their chance to prove themselves against North Carolina on Saturday.

North Carolina (AP: None/Coaches: 25) - The poll status of Everett Withers' squad is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Tar Heels just make the cut for the Top 25 in the USA Today poll of coaches. But the Associated Press voters do not show anywhere close to the same proportion of love for North Carolina, with the Tar Heels receiving just a handful of points. My only guess is that Butch Davis is a well-respected member of many coaching circles, and the Tar Heels could be getting extra credit from coaches while the presence of an interim is getting them less from the press. Either way, we'll have a much better idea of how North Carolina stacks up after facing No. 25 Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday.

Other Receiving Votes - Miami is the top non-ranked vote getter after knocking off Ohio State at home. Maryland, a week after being on the cusp of national ranking, fell to the bottom of the "other receiving votes" pile after falling to West Virginia on Saturday.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:10 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:23 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 10)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Time to re-rank the ACC Atlantic. Two weeks into the season, and my projected order of finish for the division in the ACC Preview already looks way off. I'm trying to be careful not to jump to any conclusions, but I think it's safe to say my predictions (below) will not be very similar to the final standings.

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. NC State
3. Maryland
3. Boston College
6. Wake Forest

See what I mean? No chance. So based on what we've learned from the last two weeks, here is how I would re-rank them. Consider it a "power ranking" of sorts.

1. Florida State (2-0) - No real surprise or change here. Who we thought they were.

2. Maryland (1-0) - The Terps made our jaw drops twice on Labor Day. Once when they ran out of the tunnel in those uniforms, and again when they completed the 32-24 defeat of Miami.

3. Wake Forest (1-1) - Tanner Price has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the ACC so far this season, and if the Deacs can learn how to hold a lead they could end up giving a lot of teams trouble this year.

4. NC State (1-1) - Quarterback Mike Glennon put together a great second half on Saturday, helping the Wolfpack fight back from a 27-6 third quarter deficit and nearly steal a win from Wake Forest. 315 yards passing and three second half touchdowns will help the first-year starter build some confidence moving forward.

5. Clemson (2-0) - The Tigers have more talent on paper than many teams in the ACC, but they also have more talent than both of their opponents this season. Unfortunately things are still a work in progress for this young team, and their showing against Troy and Wofford have been less than impressive. Can be better, should be better, just not putting it together right now.

6. Boston College (0-2) - That defense can only do so much when the offense struggles like they have been this season. From Montel Harris to losing their top receiver for the season, injuries will unfortunately be the story of the 2011 Eagles.

2. North Carolina/Bryn Renner not so flawless anymore. I opened last week's What I Learned with a glowing review of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner. Well the sophomore faced a new challenge on Saturday with the Rutgers defense, and his performance did not match his 22-for-23 debut. Renner did complete 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards, but half of those incompletions were once again thrown to the other team. But Renner's mistakes were hardly the only frustrations for interim head coach Everett Withers. The Tar Heels were penalized 9 times for 94 yards, and finished the game with five turnovers in their narrow 24-22 win over Rutgers. After looking so sharp a week ago, the Tar Heels will have some work to do this week before kicking off the conference schedule against Virginia in Chapel Hill next Saturday.

3. Virginia Tech's greatest opponent is Virginia Tech. The Hokies have one of the most favorable schedules in the ACC, and it has been a reason that many people have penciled them in to repeat as Coastal Division champs. Virginia Tech's mental mistakes and inability to get a passing game going nearly cost them a game on Saturday in their 17-10 victory over ECU. The Hokies were penalized 12 times and turned the ball over twice, while quarterback Logan Thomas completed only 8 of 20 passes for 91 yards and no touchdowns. The defense was doing their part, holding the high-powered ECU offense to just 112 total yards. But there were too many mistakes that almost cost the No. 11 Hokies an early loss that would have crushed their potential bowl resume.

4. Duke's "breakthrough" will not occur until they fix red zone woes. Preseason All-ACC kicker Will Snyderwine shocked us when he missed a 28-yard field goal against Richmond that could have won the game. But on Saturday the streak continued with two more field goal misses in Duke's 44-14 loss to Stanford. Those missed field goals complimented a turnover on downs from the Stanford 14 yard line to equal a day of red zone troubles for the Blue Devils. Sean Renfree, Conner Vernon, and the Blue Devils offense entered this season with a lot of hype, but the inability to finish will keep the Duke in the ACC cellar in 2011 unless something changes.

5. No more coach speak, let's talk Oklahoma. All through training camp and the first two weeks of the season, the media has been frowned upon when asking questions about the early-season showdown between Oklahoma and Florida State in Tallahassee. With the Seminoles' 62-10 win over Charleston Southern, "Oklahoma Week" has officially begun for the FSU fan base.

The defense looks as ready as they could be for the Sooners' potent offense, after only allowing one touchdown in eight quarters of play. On Saturday the Seminoles' defense did not even let the Buccaneers get a first down until the third quarter, and this week they will get Greg Reid and Telvin Smith back from one-game suspensions. Head coach Jimbo Fisher admitted the Seminoles "didn't play perfect," but he was able to use the big lead to get extra quality snaps for his offensive line and running backs as they work to advance a rushing game that hasn't hit 2010's production yet.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:50 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 4:41 pm
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 3)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1) Unproven UNC QB Bryn Renner answered doubters with a record setting day. Renner only attempted two passes during his freshman year, one of them fell incomplete. In his first career start on Saturday against James Madison, the sophomore quarterback once again only missed his receiver once. Unfortunately it was intercepted, but it was the only miscue in Renner's 22-for-23 performance against the Dukes. Renner's 95.7% completion rate set a new ACC record and was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to give Everett Withers his first head coaching victory.

Renner's opposition will get much more difficult as the season goes on and teams get to prepare for the first-year starter, but that's where he will be aided by a two-headed rushing attack that also looked sharp on Saturday. Redshirt senior Ryan Houston and redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard both returned from injuries just in time to combine for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Combine their success with the reliable Dwight Jones receiving, and the quarterback position no longer looks like a question mark in Chapel Hill.

2) The ACC at least has the capability to put up big points - Of the ten ACC teams with a game under their belt, eight teams scored at least 29 points with the entire conference averaging AVERAGE points on the weekend thus far. Granted, only Wake Forest and Boston College played teams from an AQ conference (both lost) and six of the conference's opponents were FCS teams, but for a conference that has been criticized at times for a lack of offensive talent it was a nice change to see some points. For Clemson it took awhile before Chad Morris' signature offense got clicking, but the 31 second half points were testament that it is capable of wearing down a defense. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech's 60+ point performances can be attributed to a combination of their opposition (Appalachian State and Western Carolina) and some explosive playmakers. North Carolina and North Carolina State both piled on late TD's against their FCS opponents, and Florida State's defense contributed as much as their offense in the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe.

3) FSU's greatest offense might be their defense. Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles had a matchup advantage over the Warhawks as soon as the teams hit the field. But that fact should not take anything away from the impressive performance from the Florida State defense. ULM's offense was held to just 191 yards of offense and despite 39 rushing attempts, the Warhawks could not collect more than 99 yards. Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine were physical in the trenches while the Seminoles' back seven, led by safety Lamarcus Joyner, swarmed to the ball to stuff Warhawk receivers when quarterback Kolton Browning tried to utilize under routes on third downs. In fact, Florida State's ten third-down stops were a key in keeping ULM's running game from gathering any kind of momentum. The coaching staff will be focusing on Charleston Southern, but I'll say it: that kind of defensive performance will be needed if the Seminoles want to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.

4) Georgia Tech's offense shows explosion, and more of the same bad habits. Paul Johnson's first two seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach had 9+ wins both seasons and an ACC title. So there was no surprise that Yellow Jacket fans were concerned with 2010's 6-7 finish that included dropping five of their final six games. One of the reasons Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch was trouble holding onto the ball. No FBS team lost more fumbles than Georgia Tech (20) in 2010, and they ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin. So while there was plenty to celebrate with the offensive performance in the season opener, there are also plenty of red flags.

The Yellow Jackets totaled 662 yards of offense, the most for any Georgia Tech team since 2000. Tevin Washington had more passing yards in the first quarter (148) than any quarterback had in an entire game during the 2010 season. Stephen Hill's four catches for 181 yards provided support to claims that he was set to be the next great Georgia Tech receiver in the line of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. But Georgia Tech still fumbled the ball six times, luckily only losing the ball twice. Thursday's season opener showed Georgia Tech fans that this offense is dangerous. They can be dangerously good, but also dangerously destructive if they can't fix their turnover issues.

5.) Maryland - Miami - The opening weekend in the ACC wraps up on Monday night when Miami visits College Park with a shortened roster to kick off the conference schedule. It will be the first game for new head coaches Al Golden and Randy Edsall, and I'm positive we will have plenty to learn about both squads. Keep it here at the Eye on College Football for all your ACC coverage.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 7:12 pm
 

UNC K Barth listed as questionable for opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

North Carolina football with a Barth at kicker. In a program that has undergone all sorts of changes in the last several years, it seems to be the only thing that has been steady. Senior kicker Casey Barth started as a freshman in 2008, picking right up where his older brother Casey left off in 2007. Between the two, the Tar Heels have had a Barth kicking since 2004.

But it looks like he will share some of the duties for the Tar Heels' season opener on Saturday against James Madison.

CBSSports.com's Brett Friedlander reports that interim head coach Everett Withers announced on Thursday that the senior kicker was listed as "questionable" for Saturday's game.

"He's going to play, but we're going to do some other things in the kicking game to give him a little rest," Withers said. "We've got some other guys that can kick, so we're going to let some of those other guys kick."

According to the most recent depth chart, Barth's backup is redshirt freshman Thomas Moore, though true freshman Miller Snyder and holder Trace Jones are also available to handle the kicking duties.  According to Withers, Barth is just feeling "sore" and should be okay.

Barth connected on 19 of his 22 field goal attempts in 2010, and has made 105 of 106 career extra point attempts.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 2:29 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Report: UNC boosters considering lawsuit

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: Robbi Pickeral, who authored the initial News and Observer report, says that UNC has received the information request from the lawyers of the football boosters.  School still has no official comment. 


Things got even crazier on Monday in the ongoing drama that has become the North Carolina football program. According to a local report, a group of North Carolina football boosters who agreed to help fund a recent Kenan Stadium expansion are exploring possible legal action against chancellor Holden Thorp.

The identities of the boosters involved has not been made public, but one of the attorneys representing the group told the Raleigh News and Observer he plans to file a public information request asking for all correspondence between the Chancellor and other school officials.

Don Brown, of Charlotte, N.C., is one of five lawyers (all UNC graduates) that have taken the case pro bono. For the first time in the stadium's 84 year history, both end zones are now bowled in thanks to the construction of the "Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence." The new service building for the athletic department also brought 2,980 new seats, a club level, and suites that can be priced at $50,000 per year. There have been reports that donors have asked for refunds since Butch Davis' dismissal, which were denied.

"I can tell you, everybody that we represent is furious about the timing of Butch Davis' firing," Brown told the News and Observer in a phone interview. "They feel like their investment was based on Butch Davis being the head coach…and the public reassurances over the past year that he would remain the coach…They want answers."

A UNC spokesman said that as of 11:30 a.m. on Monday the school had received no FOIA request, and there is no official comment on the issue.

The group of enraged boosters is said to be of different contribution levels, and it is not clear exactly what they hope to gain from pursuing legal action. Brown emphasized in his interview with the News and Observer that they are only "seeking information" right now. One recent precedent was Connecticut booster Robert Burtonwho asked for his $3 million back from the school and requested to have his name taken off the Burton Family Football Complex. After causing quite a public stir, Burton and the school were eventually back on good terms and no drastic action was taken. The legalities of donations (particularly ones earmarked for a project like the Blue Zone) could get particularly hairy and difficult to reclaim in a court of law. It could be argued that this is a case of upset boosters, who simply do not know another way to fire back at an administration which they feel has wronged them.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:27 pm
 

DT Brandon Willis transferring from UNC, again

Posted by Chip Patterson

After a turbulent offseason that ended with the dismissal of head coach Butch Davis, North Carolina opened their fall training camp on Friday in Chapel Hill. When it came time for the players to report Friday morning for team photos, there were a few faces from the media guide missing.

The most notable name was defensive tackle Brandon Willis. Willis, a redshirt freshman, signed his Letter of Intent in February 2010 before requesting a transfer to UCLA due to family issues in August. Then in March 2011, Willis was granted a release from his UCLA scholarship so he could return to the Tar Heels. On Friday, the school announced that the defensive tackle has decided to transfer again.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman was considered one of the top recruits in North Carolina's 2010 class, but his inability to stay in one place has not allowed him to showcase his talents on the field. No reason was given this departure, and it is unknown where Willis might be headed next.

Interim head coach Everett Withers also announced the departure of cornerback Mywan Jackson. Jackson's exit is unrelated to football, as it appears he will be taking some time away from school as well.

"Mywan is working through some personal issues right now with his family and he felt it was in the best interest to stay in Florida until he decides where to continue his education," said Withers. "He indicated he would like to attend a school closer to his home and we support his decision. I wish him nothing but the best."

Jackson started five games in 2010, totaling 20 tackles on the season. He, along with several other members of the secondary, saw early action while North Carolina sat Charles Brown, Kendric Burney, and Deunta Williams in the midst of the NCAA investigation.
 
 
 
 
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