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From Robbi Pickeral at the N&O. Senior cornerback Charles Brown is eager to get back on the field during a meaningful game.

Excited over the thought of playing in a football game for the first time in almost 21 months, North Carolina cornerback Charles Brown said he could barely sleep Monday night. So the redshirt senior did the next best thing: He fantasized about his expected start in Saturday's matchup against Rutgers at Kenan Stadium.

"I just keep seeing myself intercepting the ball 10 different ways," the 5-foot-10, 205-pound defensive back from Cleveland said Tuesday, grinning. "... I had a long time to watch the games and watch people make mistakes, so I don't want to make any of those mistakes. I want to go out there and play the perfect game. I know that's not realistic, but I just can't wait to get back out there on the field."

After starting 13 games in 2009, Brown sat out last season as part of the academic portion of the NCAA investigation. Then last spring, he was suspended for Saturday's season-opening win against James Madison after the NCAA determined he had accepted $86.94 worth of benefits "from an individual identified as a prospective agent prior to the 2010 season," according to a UNC news release.

As noted in the article, Brown sat the entire 2010 season after academic issues cropped up during the NCAA probe into UNC football. Like a few other Tar Heel players, Brown's academic issues were left to the honor court to adjudicate which they did by having Brown sit out for two semesters. Subsequent to that, the NCAA found that Brown had received $86 from an agent-like-creature(presumably Chris Hawkins, aka the Most Hated Man in the NCAA) and was docked an additional game for that. As a result Brown sat out the James Madison game despite having already served what amounted to a 13 game suspension for the academic issues.

Needless to say 21 months is just a staggering amount of time to not have played in a meaningful game. Of course the upside here is Brown was not injured. Brown is not coming back from injury which carries with it a whole other set of considerations which must be accounted for. Brown has been on the field in practice and played in the 2010 spring game before all hell broke less in Chapel Hill three months later. Still when you realize Brown has not been in a UNC uniform in a meaningful football game since December 26th, 2009 versus Pitt in the Meineke Car Care Bowl it is a tad mind blowing. For the record, Brown had five tackles that day, one for a loss and broke up a pass.

The benefit for UNC is it puts an experienced cornerback on the field at a time UNC desperately needs experienced and skilled players in the secondary. Brown is the first of two players who will return to the defensive backfield in the first month of the season. The other is Jabari Price who is recovering from surgery on his hand and could return in time for the ECU game on October 1st. However, Brown's return should be an immediate upgrade assuming he can get back to his old form quickly and not suffer a season ending injury which seems to be a running theme among UNC's returnees from suspension.