Mike Paulus and the Future of Quarterbacks at UNC

So Michael Paulus – or as we knew him, Mike – is coming back to Chapel Hill this weekend, in a William & Mary jersey. (If you weren't already aware of this, don't worry, you'll be hit with numerous stories about it, as there's not much else to write about in advance of the game.) Paulus, of course, was the QB desired by everyone out of high school, rcruited to UNC by John Bunting at the expense of Russell Wilson. In his two seasons at UNC he only briefly made it to second on the depth chart, and finished with a statistical mark of 4-13 for 33 yards and two interceptions.

His move to William & Mary, however, has been a success. He didn't win the starting job, but stepped in when starter Mike Callahan was injured against Maine and promptly won three games, including upsetting top-ranked Villanova. He's gone 64-17 for 674 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and although he was pulled last week against Delaware, is expected to get significant playing time this weekend against UNC.

Paulus' return, of course, reminds me of something that's been nagging me for recent weeks. For all of Butch Davis's vaunted recruiting prowess, the one thing we haven't seen on the field is a quarterback he brought to UNC. For the first couple of seasons, the job was bounced between T.J. Yates, Paulus, and also-transferred Cam Sexton, all Bunting recruits. Davis signed A.J. Blue as a quarterback, but only used him sparingly as a running back in the first six games of 2009 before losing him to three torn ligaments against Georgia Southern. He's yet to play this season and isn't on the QB depth chart.

Instead, the heir apparent to Yates at the quarterback position is Bryn Renner, recruited the year after Blue. After a lot of talk this spring of him taking the starting job, Renner has seen playing time only on the lone play Yates was injured against Georgia Tech, and in the waning minutes of the Virginia blowout. On the list of things to worry about right now, future quarterback performance is pretty low; I was never particularly down on Yates, and his performance this season has been among the ACC's best. But with every other position having been overhauled by Davis relatively quickly, either by necessity on defense, or after the mass exodus of talented receivers a few years ago, concern over the position under center is going to be a big thing next season. Especially since the defense will again be experienced and probably impressive, and the receiving corps will have matured. The though of witnessing a replay of 2008 has got to weigh big.

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