As Joe Burrow and the Tigers were enjoying stogies after defeating Clemson on Monday night, the rest of the college football world started looking towards next season.
The prognosticators have taken notice of the North Carolina Tar Heels and the team has appeared in several lists. This is certainly good news for Carolina fans right now.
As of writing, there were 11 2020 Top 25 articles published by major sports news outlets that included the Tar Heels. UNC averages a rank of #22, as Chad alluded to yesterday.
The reasons for ranking Carolina in these preseason polls are similar across the board. One major factor is that just five seniors will be lost. Of course, there may be an early departure or two for the draft and the program has seen a few transfers in the last month, but UNC will return most of its 2019 team, and the two most likely junior draft entrants, Dazz Newsome and Chazz Surratt, have already announced their intention to return.
On offense, these factors include Sam Howell returning as a seasoned sophomore, a pair of complementary running backs, and a duo of dynamic wide receivers.
On defense, several starters graduate but a young nucleus that improved dramatically over the year will return with a full season of experience in Jay Bateman’s defense. The attrition that occurred in the secondary especially allowed for young guys to gain valuable experience.
Add in a top 20 incoming recruiting class, a shift in culture and focus with Hall of Famer Mack Brown, and an improved gameday experience, and all losses from 2019 being of seven points or less, it is no wonder the Tar Heels are making these lists.
Below are the first preseason rankings for UNC’s 2020 football season:
No. 17: NCAA.com
No. 19: Sports Illustrated
No. 21: Sporting News
No. 22: Athlon Sports, ESPN, Stadium, Bleacher Report
No. 23: The Athletic
Are the pundits underestimating the Heels? Or, like Icarus, is our hubris setting us up for a hard crash back to reality? Maybe they have it about right? Let us know in the comments below!