Former ECH kicker Moore wins camp battle at UNC
While the suspense at quarterback dominated headlines throughout North Carolina’s training camp, other critical positions were settled during the preseason – including left tackle, defensive end, cornerback and kicker, where Chapel Hill native Thomas Moore won the competition.
Larry Fedora said Monday that he won’t publicly announce whether junior Marquise Williams or redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky would start Saturday’s opener against Liberty (6 p.m., ESPN3.com) “because it bothers a lot of people,” and “it just gives me pleasure.”
Evidently, Fedora doesn’t get the same enjoyment out of keeping people in suspense about left tackle, where four-year starter James Hurst needed to be replaced. The coach disclosed that sophomore John Ferranto earned the job because he was the most consistent option.
While Ferranto is still stronger at run blocking, his pass blocking improved enough to overcome a challenge from Bentley Spain, an early enrollee who was already behind after missing almost all of spring ball with various ailments.
Fedora also announced that Dejaun Drennon would replace Kareem Martin, a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, as the team’s starter at defensive end. The redshirt freshman “has really stepped up and had a heckuva camp,” according to Fedora, who said Drennon is up to almost 260 pounds and has a good combination of speed and strength.
Fedora didn’t address the cornerback positon, but Des Lawrence avoided the dreaded “OR” on the post-camp depth chart released Monday, which goes to positions (like quarterback) in which starters are still undecided. That 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 as backups on the depth chart – along with Spain, right guard Jared Cohen and punt returner Austin Proehl – and he will likely get plenty of playing time against the Flames.
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 East Chapel Hill High fended off Freeman Jones, a true freshman who was ranked as a top 10 kicker coming of high school by Scout and 247 Sports but also struggled from long range during camp and wasn’t listed on the depth chart. Instead, sophomore kickoff specialist Nick Weiler was named the backup placekicker.