On Friday afternoon, UNC Football announced that three defensive backs, D.J. Ford, Javon Terry, and Bryce Watts, have opted out of playing the 2020 season.
The 2019 Tar Heels’ secondary was ravaged by injuries. Let’s take a quick (and painful) trip down memory lane. Before the season even started, Bryson Richardson tore an Achilles tendon during summer workouts. Trey Morrison was injured on the first drive of the South Carolina game in Charlotte, missing the rest of the game. Morrison returned and later broke his arm in the Georgia Tech game, missing most of that win in Atlanta, and then the following games against Virginia Tech and Duke.
Patrice Rene tore his ACL during the Miami game, missing the rest of the season. Auburn transfer Cam’Ron Kelly tore his ACL in the Clemson game, missing the rest of the season. Rene was able to medically redshirt, Kelly was not.
Myles Wolfolk couldn’t catch a break, injuring himself during the App State game and missing the next four games as a result. He returned against Virginia and was injured that same night, this time for the rest of the season.
Coach Dre Bly could have moved his defensive backs room out of Kenan Stadium and into the UNC Medical Center. It honestly would’ve saved the Rude Boys a few steps!
With the healthy (knock on wood) return of these players plus the addition of Clemson transfer Kyler McMichael, and two true freshmen, four-star safeties, Ja’Qurious Conley and Cameron Roseman-Sinclair. The headliner rookie, though, is true freshman (but really supposed to be a senior in high school) five-star cornerback Tony Grimes, straight out of Dre Bly’s old Tidewater stomping grounds.
Competition for places will be fierce, and after the almost comical attrition of 2019, UNC expected to overflow with options. The loss of Ford, Terry, and Watts will hurt, particularly if Carolina’s secondary injury pace continues unabated. The hope is that the added depth, (and quality depth at that) will allow Dre Bly and Jay Bateman to freely substitute from a versatile stable of studs, preventing injuries from wear and tear.
Tar Heel Blog will dive deeper into the Tar Heel secondary in its Position Preview on Friday, August 21. Make sure you keep checking in on tarheelblog.com for our comprehensive previews of every position, special teams, and coaching.