Lipford leaves UNC for NFL shot
North Carolina linebacker Darius Lipford has entered the 2014 NFL supplemental draft and will not be returning to campus for his senior season.
The supplemental draft, which takes place today, is for players who didn’t request early entry into the regular draft. Four players will take part this year.
Former UNC defensive end Michael McAdoo entered the 2011 supplemental draft after he was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA because of academic misconduct. He wasn’t selected but later signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens. According to ESPN.com, none of the six players eligible for the 2013 supplemental draft were taken.
Lipford (6-3, 255), a Lenoir native, started four games as a sophomore in 2011 before tearing his ACL in the Independence Bowl. After sitting out the 2012 season, he appeared in 10 games at bandit last year, finishing with 20 tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries.
Norkeithus Otis is expected to be the starting bandit in 2014, but Lipford appeared to be the frontrunner at middle linebacker during spring practice, where he played opposite senior Travis Hughes. However, academic issues appear to have derailed those plans.
Last year, Fedora described Lipford as having “freakish” athleticism — noting that he bench presses more than 400 pounds, cleans more than 375 pounds, squats more that 500 pounds, was close to 11 feet in the broad jump and has a 38-inch vertical. His athleticism was supposed to provide a boost to a position that relied on former walk-ons like Tommy Heffernan and Jeff Schoettmer the past two seasons.
Schoettmer finished second on the team with 85 tackles in 2013. Though he missed the spring with an injury, Schoettmer now goes in as the favorite to start. Other contenders are redshirt sophomore Nathan Staub, who had 19 tackles in eight games last year, and redshirt sophomore Dan Mastromatteo, who had three tackles in seven games.
Follow UNC beat writer Harold Gutmann on Twitter at @haroldgut.