Head coach Larry Fedora and his UNC team earlier today began practice for the 2012 college football season. PHOTO: Robert Willett
CHAPEL HILL — At long last, North Carolina earlier this morning began practicing for the 2012 football season. (In fact, the Tar Heels are still practicing as I type this.) Players began walking en masse over from Kenan Stadium to the practice fields at about 9:30 or so, before the workout officially began at 9:50.
If you remember from the spring, the Heels like to practice amid music. And that was no different today. The first song of the first preseason practice of the Larry Fedora era: “Forever,” by Drake. And yes, I did have to use Shazam to identify the song. (If it’d been Pink Floyd, or the Beatles, or even something by the Killers, I’d have known it.)
In terms of news, not a ton of stuff emerged from the 30 minutes that media members were allowed to watch. Dave Schmitt, who’s filling in for regular football sports info man Kevin Best, said that all players reported on Thursday and were accounted for this morning when the team took the practice fields.
There were some guys wearing orange jerseys, which meant they were nursing injuries and that their participation would be limited. The men in orange: senior offensive tackle Brennan Williams, tight end/deep snapper Parker Thomas (a walk-on) and freshman defensive end Justin Thomason.
We’ll get updates on Saturday from Fedora (who wasn’t scheduled to meet with the media today) about those players and any others who might be slowed by various injuries. In the meantime, some notes and observations from UNC’s first workout:
--Obviously, it’s way too early to read anything into the depth chart based on where guys were lined up today. The first-team offense today looked like the one listed in the media guide: James Hurst, Jonathan Cooper, Russell Bodine, Travis Bond and Williams across the front of the offensive line. Bryn Renner at quarterback, Giovani Bernard at running back and an array of receivers and tight ends – Erik Highsmith and T.J. Thorpe among them at receiver, and Jack Tabb and Eric Ebron among them at tight end.
--Marquise Williams, the No. 2 quarterback, did appear to get some work with some first-team guys. Renner has a strong hold on the job. Kanler Coker, the freshman quarterback, worked with the third team, as did walk-on Caleb Pressley, a redshirt freshman from Asheville.
--I’m not sure if I missed it or whatever, but I did not see Fedora chugging a Red Bull before the start of practice. It’s entirely possible he had one before I arrived, while I was walking with some of the players from Kenan.
--Speaking of Red Bull, it doesn’t take long to notice how much of an effort the coaching staff makes to keep the energy level high. At one point a player took a knee between drills, and Fedora seemed highly displeased. The coaches have a ways to go to get practice at the desired pace, but there were still few breaks in the action this morning. Everything is moving at a fast pace.
--Drew Davis, the freshman walk-on quarterback who is the son of former UNC coach Butch Davis, did not attend UNC’s first practice because he’s not on the 105-man practice roster at this time. No word on when he’ll be out.
--The rest of the music selection, after Drake’s “Forever:” “Antidote” by Swedish House Mafia vs. Knife Party, “Dedication to My Ex,” by Lloyd (and featuring Andre 3000, among others), “TNT,” by AC/DC, “Wild Ones,” by Flo Rida and featuring Sia, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” by LCD Soundsystem, “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, and “Stronger” by Kanye West. Thanks, Shazam. I’d heard of, oh … maybe half those.
Stay tuned for some video of some sights and sounds of practice …