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UNC Football: The Associated Press showed a lot of love to the Tar Heels this week

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The Heels look to take another big step forward this season under the second iteration of the Mack Brown era.

Clemson University v University of North Carolina Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

This week has been a big week for the Tar Heels as far as the Associate Press is concerned, as they released both their preseason rankings and their All-American honors for the 2020 season. The unique twist to this year’s announcements thanks to COVID-19 is that any of the information that was released wasn’t adjusted for the absence of the Big Ten and PAC-12 schools, as they have opted out of the season. With that said, let’s take a look at where the Heels land with the AP.

First we will start with the top 25 poll. UNC will kickoff the football season ranked 18th in the country after bringing in the 13th best recruiting class for 2020. It appears that national media members are buying into everything that Mack Brown’s team has to offer, and it’s hard to blame them. The Heels have arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the country, great receivers, very good running backs, and a defense that should look much improved from last season. It’s hard not to look at this group and not be excited for what they can accomplish.

Now, here’s where things get fun. Considering that the Big Ten and PAC-12 are out, the Heels’ are the 12th best active team in the country right behind Oklahoma State. The only two ACC teams ahead of them in the polls are Clemson and Notre Dame. In a normal season it’d be easy to predict that UNC would be able to hang around in the top 25 all season long considering that they are that far ahead of everyone else in the ACC Coastal, but the twist in their schedule this season is they play a lot of Atlantic division teams. It’s not necessarily good or bad, but it does add a little bit of an element of unpredictability and a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, the other big news was that senior linebacker Chazz Surratt was named preseason Second-Team All-American by the AP. Surratt is coming off of his first season on the defensive side of the ball, and finished his junior year with 115 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 10 QB hurries. He was named First-Team All-ACC for his incredible performance, and was also second place in the ACC Defender of the Year race.

Surratt is poised to have another big year for the Tar Heels. Mack Brown has emphasized that Surratt as well as a few other pieces of the linebacker corp will play a big role in the pass rush this season. If he manages to stay healthy, I could see Surratt making a strong case for not only making the First-Team All-American team at the end of the season, but to get drafted in the first or second round in the NFL Draft.

Now that the players are officially active again following some delays last week, we can once again look forward to the start of the season September 12th against Syracuse. What do you think of UNC’s ranking in the AP poll? Also, what do you think the ceiling is this year for Chazz Surratt? Let us know in the comments below.

Stay safe, and Go Heels!