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UNC Football Preview: Impact Newcomers

With so much talent lost from 2016, here are the top newcomers who will impact the 2017 season.

LSU v Wisconsin
Brandon Harris vs Wisconsin in 2016
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The UNC football team has a lot of talent to replace for the 2017 season. The attrition from 2016 has some talking heads worried about the Heels’ chances in the ACC Coastal division, but they still have enough talent to receive votes in the preseason Coaches Poll. Many of the holes from the past season will be filled by guys on the roster last season, but a few impact newcomers will be used to fill others.


One of the biggest names to transfer before the 2017 found his way to Chapel Hill. Ex-LSU signal caller Brandon Harris decided to transfer to the Tar Heels. After a turbulent career with the Tigers, Harris looks to take the helm of Fedora's offense for his final collegiate season.

Offensive Line

The Tar Heels began camp in 2017 with two grad transfer. Florida grad transfer center Cameron Dillard and USC Khaliel Rodgers. Dilliard started 19 games for Florida before having a season-ending knee surgery in 2016. He looks to be the front runner for the starting center spot. Khaliel Rodgers recently announced his retirement from the game of football, and we wish him the best.

The Heels also brought in five freshman linemen, including the highest ranked recruit in the class Jonah Melton. He should see some time this season, but there are still a lot of returning bodies ahead of him.

Missouri v Florida
Cameron Dillard in his old orange and blue
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Running back

With TJ Logan and Elijah Hood leaving, there is another hole here. Fedora brought another grad transfer from Auburn Stanton Truitt along with two freshman halfbacks, Michael Carter and Antwaun Branch. Truitt, who has two years of eligibility remaining, ran for 187 years and two TDs for Auburn. He will look to get the bulk of the carries for the Heels.

Auburn v Mississippi
Stanton Truitt as a WR for Auburn
Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Receivers/Tight Ends

Only two new faces for the Heels for these positions. Three-star players JT Cauthen and Beau Corrales are incoming freshmen, but will find themselves in more of a developmental role than a help right away role.

Defensive Line

The 2017 defensive line class is headlined by Jake Lawler, the 4-star recruit from Charlotte. With offers from usual powerhouses Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, this defensive end should see some valuable snaps on defense. Other freshmen are Xach Gill and Jordan Riley, and both may see some time as well.


It will be tough for any newcomers to make an impact here with the Tar Heels retaining all of their 2016 scholarship LBs. The two incoming freshmen Malik Robinson and Jeremiah Gemmel will get a lot of practice reps and will be asked to step up at a later date.

Defensive Backs

Two 4-star players, CJ Cotman and Trey Shaw, are the gems of the 2017 recruiting class although they may not be needed right away either. The Heels have a lot of returners in the backfield, but these two were high recruits and will possibly see some time in back up roles before being thrown into the fire in 2018 and beyond.

The Coastal Division is once again up for grabs, and if these new players can adjust to Larry Fedora and staff's system, the Heels may once again find their way to the ACC Championship.