Probably the most talked about aspect of the Tar Heel team heading into the 2009 season which means there is not much else to say. By way of recap, even though we all know the deal, UNC lost Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster to the NFL Draft and graduation. Following them out the door was pretty much the entire passing game save the quarterback who threw the passes and he only played in half the games last season. For the sake of comparison, it is a little bit like basketball in 2006 when so much of the team left we all sat around wondering if Tyler Hansbrough was going to really be that good and whether David Noel and Reyshawn Terry could have breakout years of sorts, enough so to keep the ship on an even keel until the 2006 recruiting class made it to campus.
The analogy works here. Basically, Greg Little is David Noel. Now I am not talking about leadership qualities, though Little might be an outstanding leader. What I am talking about is in both cases you have these tremendously athletic guys with great potential who are put into a position to really help the team. In Noel's case, he did everything he could have possibly done to carry that team. Yes, having Hansbrough helped, but Noel's play was huge in bringing that team along. Little is facing the same situation. It is well know Little is a great athlete and has the tools to be a great college football player. However he has been shadowed by guys like Nicks and Tate not to mention the failed experiment at running back. That left the junior from Durham being a role player, being used on special plays and generally contributing when he could which turned out to be not too often. In 2009, Little is it at WR. UNC needs him to fulfill hit potential and produce at that position in a break out fashion. The reason being is the options behind Little are young and inexperienced. This is Little's season to shine and if he does that, the Heels will have a stable enough presence in the receiving game to keep defenses honest.
As for Dwight Jones and Joshua Adams, they were impressive in the spring. Unfortunately for them they will have to grow up fast. While Little can do the heavy lifting, it would be nice to have these guys develop to a point where UNC has three legitimate receiving threats on the field similar to what we have seen in the past two years. Granted they will not get to Nicks/Tate levels this season but even if they become Brooks Foster that is something. And if you want to carry the analogy from 2006 basketball further, if one of them ends up being a football version of Tyler Hansbrough's productivity, things will really get interesting.