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UNC Football: Heels lose three players

Jordon Riley, Juval Mollette and J.T. Cauthen are no longer with the football program.

NCAA Football: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As spring semester in Chapel Hill draws to an end, so too did the UNC football career of three former Tar Heels.

Rising sophomore DT Jordon Riley, redshirt junior WR Juval Mollette, and redshirt freshman J.T. Cauthen are moving on with their respective careers. Right off the bat, the largest impact of these departures is that the three players are all North Carolina natives— perhaps more fodder for Carolina’s recruiting rivals to use against them.

Riley

The Durham, N.C. native is perhaps the biggest loss of the three. As a true freshman, Riley appeared in five games. He debuted in the Duke game, and acquitted himself well with four tackles, two solo and two assisted.

His playing time the rest of the year was spotty, as he amassed two more tackles the next week against Georgia Tech, and then none in action against Virginia, Pitt, and Western Carolina.

Riley, apparently an academic casualty, adds to the concerning list of interior linemen to depart campus after just one year. Marlon Dunlap saw snaps as a true freshman in 2016, and transferred. Elite recruit Greg Webb was redshirted in 2013, and flunked out in the spring semester of 2014.

For 2018, the depth on Carolina’s defensive line is loaded with upperclassman talent. Make no mistake, though, Riley was a major piece of the future. He was the nation’s 41st-ranked defensive tackle, and the state’s #17 player in the class of 2017.

Mollette

Mollette compared favorably to Quinshad Davis coming out of high school, as he boasted a filled-out 6’4 frame. Unfortunately, he never really developed and appeared in 7 games in three years as a Tar Heel— all in 2017. He caught two passes for 19 yards in mop-up duty.

Coming into 2017, Mollette was looked to as a guy who would emerge in the absence of Bug Howard, Mack Hollins, and Ryan Switzer— but was overtaken on the depth chart by guys who will remain on campus. Outside receivers Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Beau Corrales, among others, return, and mega-recruits Jordyn Adams, Antoine Green, and Dyami Brown should add some more dynamic playmakers to the cast in 2018.

Its always a shame when a guy’s Carolina career ends early, but with three years under his belt he will have an opportunity to continue his career elsewhere or complete his degree in Blue Heaven.

Cauthen

The redshirt freshman wideout was the state’s #8 player in the class of 2017, #363 overall, and a borderline 4-star recruit. He put on 15 pounds of weight in his first year on campus, and reported to Spring Practice a stout 6’1, 220.

As the Heels haven’t brought in a tight end in the last two recruiting classes, Cauthen’s future appeared to be as an H-back in the Kendrick Singleton/Carl Tucker mold. He apparently retained his speed while putting on strength, so he had a bright future in Chapel Hill.

I have no idea the quality of this source, but I did see on Twitter that the initial report of Cauthen’s departure was premature.

Maybe stay tuned on this one— it would be great to retain Cauthen.


Attrition is the ugly side of college football. This isn’t a “ships happen” situation, as Larry Fedora has under-recruited almost to a fault. In Mollette’s case, he just got buried on the depth chart by players developing faster. One doesn’t want to comment on Riley’s situation, but the Durham native is a big loss for the program.

And hey, if Oh Heel Yeah on Twitter is legit, perhaps news of Cauthen’s departure is premature. Stay tuned...