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UNC Football: Is Javonte Williams poised for a breakout year?

The sophomore running back is receiving a lot of attention as the season opener approaches.

Western Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

As disastrous as last season was for the Tar Heels, one of the few bright spots on the team was the running back corps. For the majority of the year, it was a three-headed attack that featured Michael Carter, Antonio Williams, and Jordon Brown. Those three combined for 1,448 yards on 256 attempt, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. However, during the last two games of the season, then-freshman Javonte Williams was given a major opportunity, and he flourished.

Against Western Carolina, Williams carried the ball 17 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns. He then followed that up with an 83-yard, one touchdown performance as the Tar Heels nearly knocked off NC State. It was an impressive two-game showing for Williams, whose 176 yards during that span accounted for over three-fourths of his total rushing on the season.

Perhaps even more impressive than raw statistics, though, was Williams’ impeccable ability to run through people. At 5’10, 215 pounds, his low center of gravity and alarming strength allow him to take defenders head-on. His backfield mate, Michael Carter even compared him to Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott. Moreover, he has received lots of praise from head coach Mack Brown since his return to Chapel Hill, and many more of his teammates have taken notice of his tremendous combination of talent and work ethic. Though he doesn’t have a great amount of in-game experience, Williams has received more hype than any other Tar Heel running back throughout the spring and summer.

Coming out of high school, Williams was a three-star recruit and just the 46th best player in the state of North Carolina according to 247sports. He played at Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Teachey, North Carolina, helping them win four straight state championship titles. Despite such success, he was not highly regarded and even considered giving up football altogether until Carolina came calling with his first and only Division 1 offer.

As it stands now, Williams is in position for an increased role this upcoming season with a chance to further prove himself. Though Carter and Antonio Williams are still in the fold, Jordon Brown opted to transfer to Kansas State for his final season, leaving a somewhat sizable amount of carries up for grabs. Javonte Williams figures to receive much of that workload and should complement the other two backs quite nicely. And if the rumblings about Williams are substantiated, look for him to make a legitimate push to become the lead back in Phil Longo’s Air Raid offense.