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UNC Football: Javonte Williams makes Bleacher Report’s list of ACC breakout candidates

The Tar Heel running back could have a big season ahead of him.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - North Carolina v Temple Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Bleacher Report released a list yesterday of ten ACC players who appear poised to have a breakout season. Featured on that list was Tar Heel junior running back Javonte Williams.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about sophomore quarterback Sam Howell as well as his top targets Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown. While these guys are sure to be integral to the success of the Tar Heel offense, they won’t be able to do it alone. Williams is a guy who not many people are talking about, but I expect they will be soon.

Last season, Williams ran the ball 166 times for 933 yards (5.6 ypc) and five touchdowns. He’s a bruising, downhill runner with deceptive speed who seemingly always manages to fall forward. Carolina typically likes to use him as a first and second down back, but he was very involved in the passing game last season, catching 17 balls for 176 yards and a touchdown. He’s the most versatile back on the team and maybe even the entire conference.

Williams was called upon in a number of crucial situations in 2019, most notably in the Heels’ final drive against Clemson. He broke off a 22-yard scamper on third down that would set up a first and goal from the 3. He ultimately punched it in on second and goal to get Carolina within a point of the top-ranked team in the country. Although the Heels were unsuccessful with a two-point conversion attempt, that game solidified Williams as the team’s clutch runner, the guy who could churn out yardage when needed.

Williams is joined in the backfield by senior Michael Carter, who serves as the proverbial lightning to his thunder. Carter, who was actually the Heels’ leading rusher last year with 1,003 yards, is very agile and shifty with elite straight-line explosiveness. Together, the two served as one of the most imposing backfield duos in the ACC. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue in 2020 now that both are upperclassmen in what figures to be one of the most prolific offenses in the country.