Position battle winners at LT, DE, CB and K as UNC breaks camp
My article on Monday focused on what’s still uncertain as UNC enters game week, such as the starting QB, Ethan Farmer’s eligibility and the running back rotation.
But plenty of other positions were settled during training camp – John Ferranto vs. Bentley Spain at left tackle, Dajaun Drennon at defensive end, Des Lawrence vs. M.J. Stewart at corner and Thomas Moore vs. Freeman Jones at kicker.
I guess Larry Fedora doesn’t get as much enjoyment out of keeping people in suspense about left tackle, because he was happy to disclose on Monday that Ferranto earned the job because he was “the most consistent.” While Ferranto is still stronger at run blocking, his pass blocking has also improved enough to overcome a challenge from Spain, an early enrollee who started from behind after missing almost all of spring ball with various ailments.
Likewise, the “pleasure” Fedora said he got about fielding questions about QB didn’t extend to defensive end, since Fedora announced Drennon as the starter there. The redshirt freshman “has really stepped up and had a heckuva camp,” according to Fedora, who said Drennon is up to almost 260 pounds, can really run and is really strong.
Fedora didn’t address the cornerback positon, but Lawrence avoided the dreaded “OR” on the post-camp depth chart released Monday, which should mean that the sophomore beat back prized freshman M.J. Stewart to play opposite Brian Walker, at least against Liberty.
Still, Stewart was one of four true freshmen listed on the two-deep, along with Spain, right guard Jared Cohen and punt returner Austin Proehl.
Finally, at kicker, Moore was only 1-of-5 from 40-plus yards last season and missed two extra points, which seemed to put his job at risk. But the senior from Chapel Hill fended off Jones, a true freshman who was ranked as a top 10 kicker coming of high school by Scout and 247 Sports but wasn’t listed on the depth chart Monday.
Moore went from walk-on to scholarship recently, along with fourth-year punter Tommy Hibbard and long snapper Alex Marrs.