As game time comes closer and closer for the North Carolina football team I am once again ready with another one of my “12 for 12″, where I discuss the dozen persons/things that need to be good in order for the gridiron season to be a good one, no matter what the final record is. In this segment, the 9th of 12, I am going to focus on the class that is well displayed in the depth chart going into game one… the freshmen. In all it seems that the coaching staff have a dozen on the offensive side of the ball, with tight end Eric Ebron being a starter, while on the defensive side of things it’s seven altogether with strong safety Darien Rankin being a starter on that side of the ball.
In the last “12 for 12″ segment I spoke about momentum. If we look past this season then how all these first year players do on the field this season will provide an insight to how the squad might be in years to come. The key for coach Fedora and his staff will be how he mixes in the twenty frosh during this season. The hope is that Carolina will have enough games where they are in control that these second stringers will be able to see quality time on the gridiron. For the wide receivers, where with the exception of two players none have caught a ball in college, there is plenty of talent from the freshman class that could stand out in the new spread offense.
And while a lot of these players on the depth chart are going to see limited time in this campaign, looking at who they are backing up, the reality is that next year these could be the players that take the field for head coach Larry Fedora. Not to want to use catch phrases, but in this instance “the future is now” does fit well when talking about this squad. When you think about it, with a new offense and defense where everyone has to somewhat start over, being a freshman and getting playing time is something all head coaches would love to have. It’s a long stretch to think about the 2013 and forward seasons when this campaign has not even began, but on the other hand when you go down the list of the starters how many will be back in Chapel Hill next year or the year after is not that many and as such the freshmen will be a key part for this squad, both this season in some way, and for the future in a lot more ways.
As the 2012 North Carolina football season unfolds I will be watching to see which of the freshmen step up and get playing time, or even crack the starting line up. In a year of change, new coaching staff, new schemes on both side of the ball, being able to see new faces coming onto the field and being part of the team from the get go is not just exciting but also needed for years to come. For more information on North Carolina football and/or basketball make sure to check out isportsweb often.